School Dazed!

School is something very few of us question in our daily lives. We attended, as did our parents, so why shouldn’t our children just follow suit? Industrialists of the early 1900’s steered our modern education system to serve their needs, and as the factories of that age needed fodder for their assembly lines our schools taught just enough to keep people feeling part of the new emerging world, but dumbed down enough to stand on an assembly line all day while enriching the few. As this trend took hold in the Western world we slowly said goodbye to a majority of our artisans and people working closer to the land, handing over the responsibility to a growing corporate world who happily took over the tasks that were once the domain of families, villages, communities – feeding, clothing and nurturing their young.

Somewhere in the middle of the 20th century as factory life was taking over, middle management was now needed to run the ever-growing soulless places of employment for the working masses. The education system responded in kind and designed university courses to fulfill that need. Hands-on skills and rich age old traditions started to become marginalised and to represent a lack of education. Lower education became nothing but a mere stepping stone to a university degree. The labouring jobs were for the illiterate immigrants. Those others who didn’t seem fit for higher education, or couldn’t afford it served as excellent fodder for the machine of unbridled capitalism. The new literate masses were managing factories and the corporate machine just grew stronger and stronger.

Can we blame only school? Obviously not, but schooling can be held partially responsible for shaping our society and dragging it down the path we are now on. We teach the status quo, and thinking out of the box is paramount to being a rebel. The end result is often people who find it hard to be individuals. Modern day families in America, and now parts of Europe, go into huge amounts of debt to send their children to average universities so after graduation they can begin their lives in debt working in the newest type of factories we have created – The Walmarts and the Starbucks of the world. Not only do we force this on our children, but we push our failing education and financial systems into the developing world toting it as the way forward. Hopefully these emerging countries and their people can look at the western economies crumbling and question from afar the logic in  following suit. It is harder for us to see it as it has been handed down to us on a seemingly silver platter, but that same education system, too many times over, has fallen far from the promised mark.

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A better way to spend a school day.

Education has much to give, and let me not be misunderstood, has given much as well. To reach its full potential though education must be allowed to flourish, then it’s impact will be so much greater. We need to stop seeing education as purely an academic pursuit, it isn’t. It is a tool for opening minds, and should change constantly. The damage can be done at a young age, and although the financial woes of higher education is a problem to many, the shaping and conformity that school represents to our younger population can have a much more far reaching negative impact on us all.

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Monoculture, not recommended in agriculture, why do we do it to humans?

Education is not here to serve the needs of constant growth or exploitation, it should be to nurture humanity and it’s environment. Grades should not be our benchmark of success. Happiness, fulfillment, and a more peaceful world would be infinitely more satisfying.

Education can be, and often is, a way out for many of our impoverished brothers and sisters, but education should be a multi-faceted interesting experience, not the book-driven, fact-spouting, mind-numbing childhood-consuming experience it now has become. Like everything in life, there is a time and a place. When we give up our young creative years sitting at desks, drawing within the lines, how can we expect anything else but a robotic, debt-driven society sitting in expensive cars, eating what corporations laughingly call food, working for the few while watching the rich elite happily still live a life of opulence that can’t even compare to the days leading up to the French Revolution. Ironically, the masses of today are so indoctrinated that dreams of another revolution have sadly become less likely than ever.

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As Bob Dylan sang about nearly 50 years ago, “The times they are a changin.” Let’s hope with the distant mirror of the past to look into, and the reality of the present right here for us to see up close, we will finally grasp the nettle and take back our power, question our educational and financial systems, and not stand idly by as we try to force it down the throats of our children, and the children of our distant neighbours in far away lands.

Thinkin’ out of the box.

Peace, Joe

 

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About thebikeguy61

I was born in The Bronx, in NYC. I traveled a fair bit of the world by bicycle for many years. In more recent years I have moved around Europe with my wife and 2 children. My first book was published in 2010, "Cycles of a Traveler". www.cyclesofatraveler.com Back living in France after a fantastic voyage across America with my family. Next book on its way, and always more interviews to look forward to.
This entry was posted in Education, Life on planet earth., Money & Economics. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to School Dazed!

  1. Ben Zuddhist says:

    EXCELLENT PIECE JOE. X

    Like

  2. Very interesting topic you have chosen. And many effective things you shared. I really appreciate you that you think about that.

    Like

  3. ella young says:

    Yes, Joe, I entirely agree.
    I was pretty upset to see the way Indian education is going – all rote learning, no thinking needed, and no hands on stuff like science experiments.

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    • thebikeguy61 says:

      Hi Ella, Yes the same can be seen in Sierra Leone. Local crafts suffer, and the society becomes consumers of cheap imported foods and toys. All to study a system that isn’t really such a great role model anyhow.

      Like

  4. Majella says:

    Hi joe
    Great article. Sandy says the most important thing that children need to learn is critical thinking and more and more I believe she is right. Very few teachers and even fewer curriculums even touch on it.
    Majella

    Like

    • thebikeguy61 says:

      Yes Majella, I agree with Sandy, critical thinking has taken a back seat to standardising our population. So we get what we now have. Huge bureaucracies running the world into the mess we now see all around us.

      Like

  5. William Julian says:

    I am not completely sure that schools have been solely designed to control the masses etc… All humans need at least an elementary training to springboard to deeper critical thought. Much of my experience in the educational field has taught me that most education is experiential and reliant on the intrinsic desire of the learner to want to take their learning to the next level (wherever that takes them).A very learned professor from Lehman College once reminded all of us soon to be graduates that a diploma should never be the end to your learning but only a beginning. Billy

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  6. thebikeguy61 says:

    Billy, I knew I’d hear from you on this one. You are an excellent teacher and have given your life’s work to it and I tip my hat to you. I didn’t say solely to control the masses, but our modern-day education system has done a great job in doing just that. In the UK the Public (Americans read private) education system was designed in the time of the Empire to keep turning out people to expand the Empire and keep control of it, and the system hasn’t changed much till this day. In America we have lost shop class, and many other creative aspects of schooling we once did have. The testing that is supposed to keep education standards at a certain level just force children to memorize and spurt out information which is then quickly forgotten or even worse never put to practical use. In the race to become a top school, children at younger and younger ages are under high stress to outperform other schools or students. We have become too goal orientated, and feel that the ends justify the means, but I personally disagree. We miss too many kids out on the way up, and creativity and critical thinking all suffer because of it.

    Here in France the education system for younger children is getting worse and is very good at putting out civil servants, but creativity suffers a great deal. Critical thinking is nearly non-existent, and unless the children are getting a lot of parental input at home, the end product of such a system gives us a society where the status quo infiltrates many sectors of society. Some schools are waking up and trying to do things differently, but with budget cuts, and a financial crisis affecting all sides of life, it is easy to cut the arts, physical education, or hands-on learning from the curriculum.

    Many of the great leaders and entrepreneurs in America were home educated, and some even drop outs because they didn’t fit into certain boxes. Home education is made very difficult in certain European countries, and even illegal in some parts of Europe and the world. What should be a choice in free societies becomes illegal, scary!!

    All I am trying to say is that we need to look at our society, see what we are getting in return for all the education people are getting, and re-assess the whole system. When our whole economy becomes dependent on foreign imports, and people forget skills that were once quite respected in village, town and city life, we need to re-think. I don’t think just consuming is an answer to our financial problems, and equally don’t believe that just educating in the academic sense is the way out of the world’s current problems from economics to the environment. We need to get back in touch with ourselves, not be afraid to be individuals, and realise that university degrees may not be for everyone, and a low SAT score is not the end of the world.

    I very much agree with your professor at our alma mater. Yes the learning never stops it is true but if a college degree is received or not it is not a benchmark of an educated person. Life is one big classroom and experience counts for so much. When a college education comes with a lifetime burden of debt with it a young graduate is not given a chance to express his or herself, but instead must enter immediately into the workforce to begin paying back student loans while accruing more financial burdens along the way. We graduated debt-free Billy, a gift from a nearly lost era. Yes my days at Lehman helped me in many ways, but my days after University were full of experiences that changed my life’s path and taught me so much more, but I was able to begin that path of exploration because after college I was debt-free and had $800 in my pocket. Something unfortunately many young people today who leave college can’t do any longer, and in my opinion in a debt-driven economy and culture is a form of manipulation because not many people blink an eye at debt at so young an age thinking it is normal, but it isn’t, I believe it is an extension of years of thinking inside a box that has been created by our economic thinkers who have dragged us down this path. My hope is that it doesn’t catch on in the developing world, because it is a form of enslavement and definitely stifles critical thinking, living, and flourishing to ones full capacity, and that is where I believe the subtle problem lies, people are so bogged down and indoctrinated to this type of lifestyle that no one notices its affects to a supposed free-thinking society.

    Thanks Billy, and keep the comments coming! Joe

    Like

  7. nanny marres says:

    great article, very important,
    and i am proud that I have two of these beautiful little figures above the stove

    Like

  8. ken Robinson says:

    Thanks for a great article it helps in this mad house the world has become.stay well Ken.

    Like

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