The picture above says it all i.e.
All too often this is the fate of our young people who because they have such a poor education, must choose between flipping burgers or joining the military!
Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m now 65 years old & that the love of my life, my best friend & wife, Jeri has passed away that has brought me to this point? I think the last vestiges of my youthful idealism that we could take back our country from the corporate cockroaches, has died as well? But, I understand on a much deeper level now just how pervasive or insidious the corrosive corruption of wealth is on our public education system. And since we are a nation that values quantity above quality & if you can’t quantify your accomplishments, most people dismiss you as a bullshitter, loser, liar or all three, I am including the following personal info:
I have taken a fairly objective guesstimate of how much time & energy I’ve invested in educating myself & I’d say that I’ve spent at least 49,000 hours over the past 30 yrs. or so in reading, writing, attending college classes, lectures off campus, listening to political programs, watching political, social, cultural documentaries, etc. And I have made copious notes in the blank pages of many of my books. My personal collection of books is probably close to 10,000. And no, this isn’t an ego trip but to substantiate the sincerity of my pursuit of truth over the course of my lifetime.
Here’s a quote from President Woodrow Wilson that lays it out bare for all to see;
“We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class of necessity in every society, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.”
I have been wondering for decades if it’s all just a matter of coincidence or a conspiracy that has brought us to this pitiful state of ignorance in America? In fact, I just asked Noam Chomsky in an e-mail I sent him yesterday & he replied that no, it’s not really. I’ll simply put it like this, there are many forces that benefit from a dumbed-down public & they have been pretty brazen in their public proclamations regarding their agenda. If you care to educate yourself on this detailed history, check out John Taylor Gatto’s “The Underground History of American Education.” And no, I’m not going to simplify this critical history for you because I’ve done that for most of my adult life & all it does is encourage people to continue in their intellectual laziness.
My wife was a special education teacher for over 32 yrs. & a large part of being a special ed teacher is being/serving as a resource center i.e. knowing where the resources are to help students, other teachers, parents, etc. and guiding people to those sources to hopefully inspire them to empower themselves. Well, I too feel like a resource center but as the old saying goes; You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. By-the-way, there is a critical difference between being innocently ignorant & being willfully ignorant.
Furthermore, I am not nearly as understanding or forgiving as I used to be i.e. I believe that a good portion, perhaps the majority of those who voted for Trump, the undeniably most ignorant president we’ve ever had, are willfully ignorant (purposely block out any facts, knowledge, or wisdom that contradicts their dogma & prejudices). They say that knowledge is power but a commander in chief who is so clearly willfully ignorant is a clear & present danger to not only America but the entire world!
Call me cynical, pessimistic, jaded, burnt-out or whatever you like but, I seriously wonder if most of those who voted for Trump will ever wake-up to just how colossal the con-job he pulled on them was? I doubt that even as their food stamps, unemployment, meager health care, etc. is either eliminated entirely or cut so significantly that living in their cars will seem like a step up, they’ll wake from their Walking Dead coma.
I’ve studied under and worked with thousands of teachers over the course of my life & I can count the truly great teachers on one hand. The education “profession” is like the military i.e. do your time, don’t rock the boat, & collect your pension—if they didn’t invest it in Wall St. and it has vanished. The kind of teachers who inspire & light that candle of curiosity are slowly marginalized until most of them quit in utter frustration. A good example of this is Marva Collins. And again, no, I’m not going to spoon-feed you, if you care you’ll make the effort.
The constant talk we hear on the news about educational reform, etc. is just that i.e. talk or rather, empty rhetoric. It’s an elaborate public relations campaign designed solely to win political points & funding or defunding public education, depending on your political posture. Trump’s appointment of Betsy De Vos is simply the most blatant fuck-you to those of us who have a semblance of hope or belief in public education left in us.
In conclusion, here are some key points to bear in mind & some resources you can make use of. Quite simply, find out what they teach in the most elite colleges to get an idea of what is truly worthwhile pursuing intellectually. Common sense tells you that if the elite, ultra expensive colleges teach the classics in literature, philosophy, politics, etc., it must be worthwhile so don’t fall for their bullshit when they tell you that those subjects are useless in the “real world.” Buy a copy of “Problem Solving & Comprehension,” Arthur Whimbey & Jack Lochhead. It contains plenty of problems that help you learn how to analyze & approach complex problems. Do the exercises with a few family members or friends & you’ll see a marked improvement in your critical/analytical thinking skills. There are literally thousands of on-line courses you can take from such privileged universities as M.I.T. And no, you won’t get college credit for these courses but they’re Free! So you no longer have the excuse that you can’t afford a good education. And so what if you don’t get the credit for the course, you gain the knowledge & you don’t leave college $50,000 or more in debt. Use your imagination/creativity & show perspective employers what you can do from what you’ve learned. And once you get your foot in the door of a company you’d like to work for, the sky is the limit. Basic classes in subjects you feel inadequate to tackle can be taken relatively cheaply at local community colleges.
Bottom-line, we are the most privileged people on the planet & billions of people who are suffering terribly around the globe would love to have a fraction of the opportunities that we have. To squander those opportunities & feel sorry for ourselves is close to blasphemy in my book. Once we’ve empowered ourselves & our loved ones, hopefully you may feel like giving something back & reach out a helping hand to others? It’s utterly foolish or simply stupid to look to our nation’s “leaders” for solutions. Grass-roots action is the only thing that may save us! I’ll leave the last word to the famous, H.G. Wells, the noted science fiction writer of the last century;
“Civilization is in a race between education and catastrophe. Let us learn the truth and spread it as far and wide as our circumstances allow. For the truth is the greatest weapon we have.”
—Rob DeLoss, Port Angeles, WA, March 10, 2018
P.S. Here is Noam’s reply when I asked him if our public educational system was a conspiracy; “Not really a conspiracy. Mass public education was pretty much designed as a two-tier system: turn independent farmers into disciplined wage laborers, and keep an elite system for those who run the world. Contemporary versions are teaching-to-test vs the elite schools.”
Moreover, I asked Noam why we’re still using behaviorist methodologies in our public schools after it had been discredited decades ago (in no small part because of Chomsky’s refutation of B.F. Skinner’s arguments) and this was his response;
“Behaviorism is very convenient for the masters: it provides them with a justification for exercising control, since, after all, humans have no inherent properties (like an instinct for freedom, or sympathy for others, or other pathologies) that are harmed by the molding of behavior by the masters.”
So, you decide for yourself as to just how free, egalitarian, & democratic a society we live in and that our soldiers are supposedly fighting for around the globe???
Oh yeah! Just remembered this powerful bit of honesty:
“Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this: ‘You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself — educating your own judgements. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being moulded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.”
― Doris Lessing,