Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘No Child Left Behind

Prime enemies to Capitalist America: Well-adjusted and well-fed minority and educated working class kids

Note: re-edit of the article posted on September 12, 2010

The prime enemies to Capitalist America are well-adjusted and well-fed minority and the educated working class kids.

Parents in the US are witnessing a reduction of 40% of their quality time to caring for their kids.

Kids return home alone, eat frozen food, watch TV, play video games, and are isolated from their environment.

Parents have to work twice harder for longer duration for less than what they earned three decades ago.

Even national health care coverage for the downtrodden has barely passed Congress with drastic restrictions.

Kids are getting hooked to alcohol and drugs and are seeking gang-type protection against their loneliness and disorientation.  Fact is, most States that are satellites to the USA lack national health coverage and the schooling system is mostly privatized.

Why IQ is dropping dangerously?

James Coleman reached this conclusion: “Kids competence in school depend largely on the total effect of the environment (family, community…)  The effect of school programs and system are secondary factors.  It is basically the lack of environmental support and care that is driving kids stupid and dropping from schools:  Kids are being herded to the job market earlier than expected and working in minimum wage jobs with no prospect for advance for lack of adequate education.

For example, Bush Junior has started this program “No Child Left Behind” and is continued by Obama with a nastier restriction.  This program is meant to just teach kids to pass the test.

Kids are tested every couple of years and so are the teachers tested for “performance” of teaching to the test program.

Not only kids are not learning but teachers have been robbed of their educational rights to forming good minds, reflecting brains, offering various perspectives and point of views.

Students are to answer according to preset ideological programs.

Obama wants teachers to be evaluated by students!

Ignorant kids evaluating how well the teacher is preparing him to pass a stupid test. Teachers have to play kid among kids to earn his salary.

Kids are not learning anything in deep; the educational system does Not want to produce competent and creative kids:  Just kids proficient in passing tests.  Later on, proficient in scalping institutions and bypassing regulations by learning how the system works.

John Dewey (1859-1952), social reformer and influential in educational methods, was a prime US principal sources of inspiration to a progressive educational movement.  Dewey wrote: “The ultimate goal of education is Not consumerism goods but producing free men, associated as equals.”

Dewey stated in 1920: “Power resides in the control of means of production, of exchange, of publicity, of transport, and of communication.  Those running these facilities are governing the society. The quest for profit is managed and controlled by banks, landowners, and barons of industries. This quest for profit is reinforced by the press, journalists, and the other vectors in publicity and propaganda.”

The British mathematician and philosopher, Bertrand Russell stated: “Education has for objective to extending values contrary to domination; it must be forming well-advised citizens, in a free society; to conciliate patriotism and liberty with individual creativity.  This pre-suppose treating children as we treat a young shoot endowed with proper nature:  Requiring the right soil, air, light, and water.

The current educational ideology can be summarized as follows:

“Each individual, in an ideal configuration, seeks to a position of master among slaves.”

Relentless competition and the lure for quick gain are sure ways to destroying a sense of community.

Normal people are feeling insecure, afraid, and uneasy in their environment (and the rate of suicide is climbing dangerously).

People are claiming to be “apolitical” (in a bad connotation) because they feel helpless to performing any social changes:  They simply blame the political structure, government, and official.

People are sensing after frequent crisis (preemptive wars, financial crashes, and reduction in opportunities and salaries) that governments are but shadows to the capitalist structure favoring private multinationals.

Capitalist enterprises impress upon governments the policies and laws that suit their monopoly and reducing common people to serfdom.

The media is not doing an honest job:  They are not pointing the finger to the proper sources of people’s insecurity and inequality in opportunity and wealth.

For example, David Moss of Harvard Business School compared two graphs extending for a century.

The first graph showed statistics of the gap between the rich and the poor in America over the years.  The second graph showed the tightening of financial regulations and financial crisis.

The two graphs matched completely.

In 1929, 10% of Americans hoarded 50% of the wealth (the 1% of the richest Americans disposed of 24% of the total wealth). In 2007, exactly the same gap between the classes were observed.

In Europe, more factors inter in times of crisis because the States are involved in supporting the downtrodden in matters of health, schooling, and subsidies to the less fortunates.

While in 1930 the gap shrank between the classes, this gap has not changed since 2007.  Most probably, the crisis is not over until the Federal government support the less fortunate in work opportunities and better salaries.

Note 1:  You are encouraged to read Noam Chomsky’s “For a humanist education”

Note 2: This ratio of 1/10 of the richest classes hoarding the vast majority of a country wealth in the capitalist developed (colonial powers) is steady, and what changes slightly is the rate of wealth. Actually, in all the non-developed States that claim to have “liberal economics” and claim to have a faked “democratic” system have the same ratio, but the members of the rich clubs rotate around the close family ties of the monarchs and dictators.

These  so-called “liberal economies” are meant to encourage the exploitation of the country by multinationals in order for the “elite class” to receive new quick foreign financial incomes.

Inspiring Young Inventors? Not investors, please…

An “experimental learning workshop” where kids engage in an essential but increasingly rare activity: they make stuff.

 posted this November 25, 2013 on Mind/Shift

How Do We Inspire Young Inventors?

In New Haven, Connecticut, where I live with my husband and two sons, we are lucky to have nearby the Eli Whitney Museum.

This place is the opposite of a please don’t touch repository of fine art. It’s an “experimental learning workshop” where kids engage in an essential but increasingly rare activity: they make stuff.

Looking around my living room, I can see lots of the stuff made there by my older son: a model ship that can move around in water (in solid ice is more relevant for those trapped in the Arctic) with the aid of a battery-powered motor he put together; a “camera obscura” that can project a real-world scene onto a wall in a darkened room; a wooden pinball game he designed himself. (You can view an archive of Eli Whitney Museum projects here.)

The people who run Eli Whitney call these hands-on projects “experiments.” As they put it:

“Experiments are a way of learning things. They require self-guided trial and error, active exploration, and testing by all the senses.

Experiments begin with important questions, questions that make you think or that inspire you to create.”

This process of exploring, testing and finding out is vital to children’s intellectual and psychological development—but opportunities to engage in it are fewer than they once were.

Frank Keil, a Yale University psychologist who is in his early 60′s said: “My friends and I grew up playing around in the garage, fixing our cars. Today kids are sealed in a silicon bubble. They don’t know how anything works.”

“We scour the country looking for young builders and inventors. They’re getting harder and harder to find.”

Many others have noticed this phenomenon.

Engineering professors report that students now enter college without the kind of hands-on expertise they once unfailingly possessed.

Kim Vandiver, dean for undergraduate research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said:

“We scour the country looking for young builders and inventors. They’re getting harder and harder to find.” MIT now offers classes and extracurricular activities devoted to taking things apart and putting them together, an effort to teach students the skills their fathers and grandfathers learned curbside on weekend afternoons.

Why should this matter?

Some would argue that the digital age has rendered such technical know-how obsolete.

Our omnipresent devices work the way we want them to (well, most of the time), with no skill required beyond pushing a button. What’s to be gained by knowing how they work?

Actually, a lot.

Research in the science of learning shows that hands-on building projects help young people conceptualize ideas and understand issues in greater depth.

In an experiment described in the International Journal of Engineering Education in 2009, for example, one group of eighth-graders was taught about water resources in the traditional way: classroom lectures, handouts and worksheets.

Meanwhile, a group of their classmates explored the same subject by designing and constructing a water purification device. The students in the second group learned the material better: they knew more about the importance of clean drinking water and how it is produced, and they engaged in deeper and more complex thinking in response to open-ended questions on water resources and water quality.

If we want more young people to choose a profession in one of the group of crucial fields known as STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—we ought to start cultivating these interests and skills early.

But the way to do so may not be the kind of highly structured and directed instruction that we usually associate with these subjects. Instead, some educators have begun taking seriously an activity often dismissed as a waste of time: tinkering.

Tinkering is the polar opposite of the test-driven, results-oriented approach of No Child Left Behind: it involves a loose process of trying things out, seeing what happens, reflecting and evaluating, and trying again.

“Tinkering is the way that real science happens, in all its messy glory,” says Sylvia Martinez, co-author of the new book Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom.

Martinez is one of the leaders of the “makers’ movement,” a nationwide effort to help kids discover the value of getting their hands dirty and their minds engaged.

The next generation of scientists—and artists, and inventors, and entrepreneurs—may depend on it.

Note: Read my articles in category Human Factors Engineering on Teaching methods https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2008/10/26/teaching-methods/

Young Americans Won’t Fight Back? What Resistance to crush in first place?

Traditionally, young people have energized democratic movements.

The ruling elite have managed another coup and created societal institutions that have subdued young Americans and broken their spirit of resistance to domination

Young Americans appear to have acquiesced to the idea that the corporatocracy can completely screw them and that they are helpless to do anything about it.

A 2010 Gallup poll asked Americans “Do you think the Social Security system will be able to pay you a benefit when you retire?”

Among 18- to 34-years-olds, 76% of them said no.

Despite their lack of confidence in the availability of Social Security for them, few have demanded it be shored up by more fairly payroll-taxing the wealthy; most appear resigned to having more money deducted from their paychecks for Social Security, even though they don’t believe it will be around to benefit them.

Bruce E. Levine republished from alternet.org: 8 Reasons Young Americans Don’t Fight Back

How exactly has American society subdued young Americans?

1. Student-Loan Debt. Large debt—and the fear it creates—is a pacifying force. There was no tuition at the City University of New York when I attended one of its colleges in the 1970s, a time when tuition at many U.S. public universities was so affordable that it was easy to get a B.A. and even a graduate degree without accruing any student-loan debt. While those days are gone in the United States, public universities continue to be free in the Arab world and are either free or with very low fees in many countries throughout the world. The millions of young Iranians who risked getting shot to protest their disputed 2009 presidential election, the millions of young Egyptians who risked their lives earlier this year to eliminate Mubarak, and the millions of young Americans who demonstrated against the Vietnam War all had in common the absence of pacifying huge student-loan debt.

Today in the United States, two-thirds of graduating seniors at four-year colleges have student-loan debt, including over 62 percent of public university graduates. While average undergraduate debt is close to $25,000, I increasingly talk to college graduates with closer to $100,000 in student-loan debt. During the time in one’s life when it should be easiest to resist authority because one does not yet have family responsibilities, many young people worry about the cost of bucking authority, losing their job, and being unable to pay an ever-increasing debt. In a vicious cycle, student debt has a subduing effect on activism, and political passivity makes it more likely that students will accept such debt as a natural part of life.

2. Psychopathologizing and Medicating Noncompliance. 

In 1955, late Erich Fromm, the then widely respected anti-authoritarian leftist psychoanalyst, wrote, “Today the function of psychiatry, psychology and psychoanalysis threatens to become the tool in the manipulation of man.”

Fromm died in 1980, the same year that an increasingly authoritarian America elected Ronald Reagan president, and an increasingly authoritarian American Psychiatric Association added to their diagnostic bible (then the DSM-III) disruptive mental disorders for children and teenagers such as the increasingly popular “oppositional defiant disorder” (ODD). The official symptoms of ODD include “often actively defies or refuses to comply with adult requests or rules,” “often argues with adults,” and “often deliberately does things to annoy other people.”

Many of America’s greatest activists including Saul Alinsky (1909–1972), the organizer and author of Reveille for Radicals and Rules for Radicals, would today certainly be diagnosed with ODD and other disruptive disorders. Recalling his childhood, Alinsky said,

I never thought of walking on the grass until I saw a sign saying ‘Keep off the grass.’ Then I would stomp all over it.”

Heavily tranquilizing antipsychotic drugs (e.g. Zyprexa and Risperdal) are now the highest grossing class of medication in the United States ($16 billion in 2010); a major reason for this, according to theJournal of the American Medical Association in 2010, is that many children receiving antipsychotic drugs have nonpsychotic diagnoses such as ODD or some other disruptive disorder (this especially true of Medicaid-covered pediatric patients).

3. Schools That Educate for Compliance and Not for Democracy.

Upon accepting the New York City Teacher of the Year Award on January 31, 1990, John Taylor Gatto upset many in attendance by stating: “The truth is that schools don’t really teach anything except how to obey orders. This is a great mystery to me because thousands of humane, caring people work in schools as teachers and aides and administrators, but the abstract logic of the institution overwhelms their individual contributions.

A generation ago, the problem of compulsory schooling as a vehicle for an authoritarian society was widely discussed, but as this problem has gotten worse, it is seldom discussed.

The nature of most classrooms, regardless of the subject matter, socializes students to be passive and directed by others, to follow orders, to take seriously the rewards and punishments of authorities, to pretend to care about things they don’t care about, and that they are impotent to affect their situation.

A teacher can lecture about democracy, but schools are essentially undemocratic places, and so democracy is not what is instilled in students. Jonathan Kozol in The Night Is Dark and I Am Far from Home focused on how school breaks us from courageous actions. Kozol explains how our schools teach us a kind of “inert concern” in which “caring”—in and of itself and without risking the consequences of actual action—is considered “ethical.” School teaches us that we are “moral and mature” if we politely assert our concerns, but the essence of school—its demand for compliance—teaches us not to act in a friction-causing manner.

4. “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top.”

The corporatocracy has figured out a way to make our already authoritarian schools even more authoritarian. Democrat-Republican bipartisanship has resulted in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, NAFTA, the PATRIOT Act, the War on Drugs, the Wall Street bailout, and educational policies such as “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top.”

These policies are essentially standardized-testing tyranny that creates fear, which is antithetical to education for a democratic society. Fear forces students and teachers to constantly focus on the demands of test creators; it crushes curiosity, critical thinking, questioning authority, and challenging and resisting illegitimate authority.

In a more democratic and less authoritarian society, one would evaluate the effectiveness of a teacher not by corporatocracy-sanctioned standardized tests but by asking students, parents, and a community if a teacher is inspiring students to be more curious, to read more, to learn independently, to enjoy thinking critically, to question authorities, and to challenge illegitimate authorities.

5. Shaming Young People Who Take EducationBut Not Their SchoolingSeriously. 

In a 2006 survey in the United States, it was found that 40 percent of children between first and third grade read every day, but by fourth grade, that rate declined to 29 percent. Despite the anti-educational impact of standard schools, children and their parents are increasingly propagandized to believe that disliking school means disliking learning. That was not always the case in the United States.

Mark Twain famously said, “I never let my schooling get in the way of my education.”

Toward the end of Twain’s life in 1900, only 6 percent of Americans graduated high school. Today, approximately 85 percent of Americans graduate high school, but this is good enough for Barack Obama who told us in 2009, “And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country.”

The more schooling Americans get, however, the more politically ignorant they are of America’s ongoing class war, and the more incapable they are of challenging the ruling class. In the 1880s and 1890s, American farmers with little or no schooling created a Populist movement that organized America’s largest-scale working people’s cooperative, formed a People’s Party that received 8 percent of the vote in 1892 presidential election, designed a “subtreasury” plan (that had it been implemented would have allowed easier credit for farmers and broke the power of large banks) and sent 40,000 lecturers across America to articulate it, and evidenced all kinds of sophisticated political ideas, strategies and tactics absent today from America’s well-schooled population.

Today, Americans who lack college degrees are increasingly shamed as “losers”; however, Gore Vidal and George Carlin, two of America’s most astute and articulate critics of the corporatocracy, never went to college, and Carlin dropped out of school in the ninth grade.

6. The Normalization of Surveillance.

The fear of being surveilled makes a population easier to control. While the National Security Agency (NSA) has received publicity for monitoring American citizen’s email and phone conversations, and while employer surveillance has become increasingly common in the United States, young Americans have become increasingly acquiescent to corporatocracy surveillance because, beginning at a young age, surveillance is routine in their lives. Parents routinely check Web sites for their kid’s latest test grades and completed assignments, and just like employers, are monitoring their children’s computers and Facebook pages.

Some parents use the GPS in their children’s cell phones to track their whereabouts, and other parents have video cameras in their homes. Increasingly, I talk with young people who lack the confidence that they can even pull off a party when their parents are out of town, and so how much confidence are they going to have about pulling off a democratic movement below the radar of authorities?

7. Television.

In 2009, the Nielsen Company reported that TV viewing in the United States is at an all-time high if one includes the following “three screens”: a television set, a laptop/personal computer, and a cell phone.

American children average 8 hours a day on TV, video games, movies, the Internet, cell phones, iPods, and other technologies (not including school-related use). Many progressives are concerned about the concentrated control of content by the corporate media, but the mere act of watching TV—regardless of the programming—is the primary pacifying agent (private-enterprise prisons have recognized that providing inmates with cable television can be a more economical method to keep them quiet and subdued than it would be to hire more guards).

Television is a dream come true for an authoritarian society: those with the most money own most of what people see; fear-based television programming makes people more afraid and distrustful of one another, which is good for the ruling elite who depend on a “divide and conquer” strategy; TV isolates people so they are not joining together to create resistance to authorities; and regardless of the programming,

TV viewers’ brainwaves slow down, transforming them closer to a hypnotic state that makes it difficult to think critically. While playing a video games is not as zombifying as passively viewing TV, such games have become for many boys and young men their only experience of potency, and this “virtual potency” is certainly no threat to the ruling elite.

8. Fundamentalist Religion and Fundamentalist Consumerism.

American culture offers young Americans the “choices” of fundamentalist religion and fundamentalist consumerism. All varieties of fundamentalism narrow one’s focus and inhibit critical thinking.

While some progressives are fond of calling fundamentalist religion the “opiate of the masses,” they too often neglect the pacifying nature of America’s other major fundamentalism.

Fundamentalist consumerism pacifies young Americans in a variety of ways. Fundamentalist consumerism destroys self-reliance, creating people who feel completely dependent on others and who are thus more likely to turn over decision-making power to authorities, the precise mind-set that the ruling elite loves to see.

A fundamentalist consumer culture legitimizes advertising, propaganda, and all kinds of manipulations, including lies; and when a society gives legitimacy to lies and manipulativeness, it destroys the capacity of people to trust one another and form democratic movements. Fundamentalist consumerism also promotes self-absorption, which makes it difficult for the solidarity necessary for democratic movements.

These are not the only aspects of our culture that are subduing young Americans and crushing their resistance to domination.

The food-industrial complex has helped create an epidemic of childhood obesity, depression, and passivity. The prison-industrial complex keeps young anti-authoritarians “in line” (now by the fear that they may come before judges such as the two Pennsylvania ones who took $2.6 million from private-industry prisons to ensure that juveniles were incarcerated).

As Ralph Waldo Emerson observed: “All our things are right and wrong together. The wave of evil washes all our institutions alike.

Bruce E. Levine is a clinical psychologist and author of Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite  (Chelsea Green, 2011). His Web site is www.brucelevine

 

Is your spirit of resistance crushed? America youth: Fight back!
Do these practices strike a chord among the youth in America?
1. Student-Loan Debt,
2. Psychoanalyzing children, categorizing mental kinds of pathology in children, and Medicating Noncompliance,
3. Focusing on obedience and compliance in Schools,
4. “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top programs,
5. Shaming Young People Who Take Education seriously,
6. Surveillance methods and technology as normal behavior,
7. Eight hours in front of Screens of television, internet, computer, cell phone…
8. The daily subjugation to Fundamentalist Religion and Fundamentalist Consumerism
I have published articles on each one of these reasons that are meant to cow youth in America from getting on the march for serious changes.
I find it interesting to abridge and re-edit an article published, in July 3,1 by Bruce E. Levine in AlterNet “Eight Reasons Young Americans Don’t Fight Back: How the US Crushed Youth Resistance”
|
“Traditionally, young people have energized democratic movements. So it is a major coup for the ruling elite to have created societal institutions that have subdued young Americans and broken their spirit of resistance to domination.

Young Americans—even more so than older Americans—appear to have acquiesced to the idea that the “corporatocracy” can completely screw them and making them feel helpless to do anything about it.

For example, a 2010 Gallup poll asked Americans “Do you think the Social Security system will be able to pay you a benefit when you retire?”

In the group of 18- to 34-years-olds, 76 percent of them said no.

Yet despite their lack of confidence in the availability of Social Security for them, few have demanded it be shored up by more fairly payroll-taxing the wealthy: Most appear resigned to having more money deducted from their paychecks for Social Security, even though they don’t believe it will be around to benefit them.

How exactly has American society subdued young Americans?

1. Student-Loan Debt. Large debt—and the fear it creates—is a pacifying force. There was no tuition at the City University of New York when I attended one of its colleges in the 1970s, a time when tuition at many U.S. public universities was so affordable that it was easy to get a B.A.  You could earn a graduate degree without accruing any student-loan debt.

While those days are gone in the United States, public universities continue to be free in the Arab world and and most developing States.  Schooling are either free or with very low fees in many countries throughout the world.

The millions of young Iranians who risked getting shot to protest their disputed 2009 presidential election, the millions of young Egyptians who risked their lives earlier this year to eliminate Mubarak, and the millions of young Americans who demonstrated against the Vietnam War all had in common the absence of pacifying huge student-loan debt.

Today in the United States, two-thirds of graduating seniors at four-year colleges have student-loan debt, including over 62 percent of public university graduates. While average undergraduate debt is close to $25,000College graduates average closer to $100,000 in student-loan debt.

During the time in one’s life when it should be easiest to resist authority because one does not yet have family responsibilities, many young people worry about the cost of bucking authority, losing their job, and being unable to pay an ever-increasing debt.

In a vicious cycle, student debt has a subduing effect on activism, and political passivity makes it more likely that students will accept such debt as a natural part of life. (See note 1)

2. Psycho-pathology analysis of children and Medicating Noncompliance. In 1955, Erich Fromm, the respected anti-authoritarian leftist psychoanalyst, wrote, “Today the function of psychiatry, psychology and psychoanalysis threatens to become the tool in the manipulation of man.” Fromm died in 1980, the same year that an increasingly authoritarian America elected Ronald Reagan president, and an increasingly authoritarian American Psychiatric Association added to their diagnostic bible (then the DSM-III) disruptive mental disorders for children and teenagers such as the increasingly popular “oppositional defiant disorder” (ODD).

The official symptoms of ODD include “often actively defies or refuses to comply with adult requests or rules,” “often argues with adults,” and “often deliberately does things to annoy other people.”

Many of America’s greatest activists including Saul Alinsky (1909–1972), the author of Reveille for Radicals and Rules for Radicals, would today certainly be diagnosed with ODD and other disruptive disorders. Recalling his childhood, Alinsky said, “I never thought of walking on the grass until I saw a sign saying ‘Keep off the grass.’ Then I would stomp all over it.”

Heavily tranquilizing anti-psychotic drugs (e.g. Zyprexa and Risperdal) are now the highest grossing class of medication in the United States ($16 billion in 2010).  A major reason for this, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2010, is that many children receiving anti-psychotic drugs have non-psychotic diagnoses such as ODD or some other disruptive disorder (this especially true of Medicaid-covered pediatric patients).

3. Schools Educate for Compliance and Not for Democracy.

Upon accepting the New York City Teacher of the Year Award on January 31, 1990, John Taylor Gatto upset many in attendance by stating: “The truth is that schools don’t really teach anything except how to obey orders. This is a great mystery to me because thousands of humane, caring people work in schools as teachers and aides and administrators, but the abstract logic of the institution overwhelms their individual contributions.”

A generation ago, the problem of compulsory schooling as a vehicle for an authoritarian society was widely discussed, but as this problem has gotten worse, it is seldom discussed.

The nature of most classrooms, regardless of the subject matter, socializes students to be passive and directed by others, to follow orders, to take seriously the rewards and punishments of authorities, to pretend to care about things they don’t care about, and that they are impotent to affect their situation. A teacher can lecture about democracy, but schools are essentially undemocratic places, and so democracy is not what is instilled in students.

Jonathan Kozol in The Night Is Dark and I Am Far from Home focused on how school breaks us from courageous actions. Kozol explains how our schools teach us a kind of “inert concern” in which “caring”—in and of itself and without risking the consequences of actual action—is considered “ethical.” School teaches us that we are “moral and mature” if we politely assert our concerns, but the essence of school—its demand for compliance—teaches us not to act in a friction-causing manner.

4. “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top.”

The corporatocracy has figured out a way to make our already authoritarian schools even more authoritarian. Democrat-Republican bipartisanship has resulted in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, NAFTA, the PATRIOT Act, the War on Drugs, the Wall Street bailout, and educational policies such as “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top.” These policies are essentially standardized-testing tyranny that creates fear, which is antithetical to education for a democratic society.

Fear forces students and teachers to constantly focus on the demands of test creators; it crushes curiosity, critical thinking, questioning authority, and challenging and resisting illegitimate authority. In a more democratic and less authoritarian society, one would evaluate the effectiveness of a teacher not by sanctioned standardized tests but by asking students, parents, and a community if a teacher is inspiring students to be more curious, to read more, to learn independently, to enjoy thinking critically, to question authorities, and to challenge illegitimate authorities.

5. Shaming Young People Who Take Education Seriously. 

In a 2006 survey in the United States, it was found that 40 percent of children between first and third grade read every day, but by fourth grade, that rate declined to 29 percent. Despite the anti-educational impact of standard schools, children and their parents are increasingly propagandized to believe that disliking school means disliking learning.

That was not always the case in the United States. Mark Twain famously said, “I never let my schooling get in the way of my education.” Toward the end of Twain’s life in 1900, only 6 percent of Americans graduated high school. Today, approximately 85 percent of Americans graduate high school, but this is good enough for Barack Obama who told us in 2009, “And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country.”

The more schooling Americans get, however, the more politically ignorant they are of America’s ongoing class war, and the more incapable they are of challenging the ruling class.

In the 1880s and 1890s, American farmers with little or no schooling created a Populist movement that organized America’s largest-scale working people’s cooperative, formed a People’s Party that received 8% of the vote in 1892 presidential election, designed a “sub-treasury” plan (had it been implemented would have allowed easier credit for farmers and broke the power of large banks) and sent 40,000 lecturers across America to articulate it, and evidenced all kinds of sophisticated political ideas, strategies and tactics absent today from America’s well-schooled population.

Today, Americans who lack college degrees are increasingly shamed as “losers”. For example, Gore Vidal and George Carlin, two of America’s most astute and articulate critics of the corporatocracy, never went to college, and Carlin dropped out of school in the ninth grade.

6. The Normalization of Surveillance. The fear of being under surveillance makes a population easier to control. While the National Security Agency (NSA) has received publicity for monitoring American citizen’s email and phone conversations, and while employer surveillance has become increasingly common in the United States, young Americans have become increasingly acquiescent to corporatocracy surveillance. Why?

Beginning at a young age, surveillance is routine in their lives. Parents routinely check Web sites for their kid’s latest test grades and completed assignments, and just like employers, are monitoring their children’s computers and Facebook pages. Some parents use the GPS in their children’s cell phones to track their whereabouts, and other parents have video cameras in their homes.

Increasingly, I talk with young people who lack the confidence that they can even pull off a party when their parents are out of town, and so how much confidence are they going to have about pulling off a democratic movement below the radar of authorities?

7. Television. In 2009, the Nielsen Company reported that TV viewing in the United States is at an all-time high if one includes the following “three screens”: a television set, a laptop/personal computer, and a cell phone. American children average eight hours a day on TV, video games, movies, the Internet, cell phones, iPods, and other technologies (not including school-related use).

Many progressives are concerned about the concentrated control of content by the corporate media, but the mere act of watching TV—regardless of the programming—is the primary pacifying agent (private-enterprise prisons have recognized that providing inmates with cable television can be a more economical method to keep them quiet and subdued than it would be to hire more guards).

Television is a dream come true for an authoritarian society: those with the most money own most of what people see.  First, Fear-based television programming makes people more afraid and distrustful of one another, which is good for the ruling elite who depend on a “divide and conquer” strategy. Second, TV isolates people so they are not joining together to create resistance to authorities; and regardless of the programming, TV viewers’ brainwaves slow down, transforming them closer to a hypnotic state that makes it difficult to think critically.

While playing a video games is not as zombifying as passively viewing TV, such games have become for many boys and young men their only experience of potency, and this “virtual potency” is certainly no threat to the ruling elite.

8. Fundamentalist Religion and Fundamentalist Consumerism.

American culture offers young Americans the “choices” of fundamentalist religion and fundamentalist consumerism. All varieties of fundamentalism narrow one’s focus and inhibit critical thinking. While some progressives are fond of calling fundamentalist religion the “opiate of the masses,” they too often neglect the pacifying nature of America’s other major fundamentalism.

Fundamentalist consumerism pacifies young Americans in a variety of ways. Fundamentalist consumerism destroys self-reliance: It creates the basis for people to feel completely dependent on others and who are thus more likely to turn over decision-making power to authorities.  This is the precise mind-set that the ruling elite loves to see.

A fundamentalist consumer culture legitimizes advertising, propaganda, and all kinds of manipulations, including lies.  When a society gives legitimacy to lies and manipulative tendencies, it destroys the capacity of people to trust one another and to forming democratic movements.

Fundamentalist consumerism also promotes self-absorption, which makes it difficult for the solidarity necessary for democratic movements.

These are not the only aspects of our culture that are subduing young Americans and crushing their resistance to domination. The food-industrial complex has helped create an epidemic of childhood obesity, depression, and passivity.

The prison-industrial complex keeps young anti-authoritarians “in line” (now by the fear that they may come before judges such as the two Pennsylvania ones who took $2.6 million from private-industry prisons to ensure that juveniles were incarcerated).

As Ralph Waldo Emerson observed: “All our things are right and wrong together. The wave of evil washes all our institutions alike.”

Note 1: In August 21, 2011, published this “education” article in The Atlantic “When Will the Bubble Burst? Student Loan Debt Swells 511 Percent”

“It’s no secret that American students are being crushed by student loans. We’re on track to cross the $1 trillion mark in total student debt, exceeding household credit card debt, sometime later this year. That sounds pretty insane, but thanks to our colleagues at The Atlantic we can see just how far out of hand the situation has spiraled.

The magazine tapped data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and found that total student loan debt increased a whopping 511 percent between the first quarter of 1999 and the first quarter of 2011:

student.loans

We all know how much havoc the housing bubble wreaked on our economy, but it turns out the growth of student loan debt was twice as steep as the growth of mortgages and revolving home equity from 1999 to the peak of the housing bubble in 2008.

One thing is for sure: if mass numbers of students start defaulting, or if they stop spending on other things because their money is going to paying off loans, a day of reckoning is surely coming. The only question is when?

Note 2:  Is the youth in America practically illiterate and are foreign to what is going outside their close surrounding?  Youth in Europe and in the Arab World are revolting, and successfully.  The latest ugly riots in England were preemptive warning to the government with the strong message: “You may balance the budget, but not at our expense”

I had posted https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/12/14/%e2%80%9cadon%e2%80%99s-world%e2%80%9d-way-of-life/ some time ago and then I stumbled on a chapter in “Element” by Ken Robinson related to educating children in school systems.  My post focused on new ways the family might adopt in order to permitting more opportunities and exposure for the child to discovering his talents, skills, passions, and constructing his own model for viewing the world.  Since schooling is a system and can be more potent than family setting in this modern busy world for enhancing a child development then, selecting varieties of schooling system models that offer environment for child mental development is most important to emulate.

The industrial age configurations and processes of passing students through the education chain of production line is transforming curriculum to static and lifeless programs:  Students are viewed as “subjects” and are not considered as the center of attention that teachers and school management have responsibilities for graduating literate and talented students.

In the last three decades, there is this dangerous trend of standardizing knowledge, information and “intelligence” to be imposed directly worldwide to all school and university system. Cram schools for passing SAT and entrance exams at universities, or even for “prestigious elementary schools” as in Japan are multibillion industries so that a few may access privileged schooling institutions.

In the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) federal programs that Obama resumed from Bush Junior, 70% of school districts have cut back on arts programs; teachers are pressured to cut back on teaching courses in order to focus on preparing for upcoming statewide standardized tests.  Consequently, if standard tests results are low then, failing schools are penalized:  Teachers are terminated and schools are closed to be taken over by private organization.

Schools need to be transformed so that teachers re-capture their status as the most valued assets in any social development.  Encouraging arts programs is the catalyst for opening up the creative skills and talents in students, exciting their urge for participating and learning.  For example, engaging in drama courses and the responsibly of mounting the theater with all its requirements and needed skills unleash the capability and enthusiasm of the students.  Students turn out to be more involved and excel in the other coursework of math, sciences, and writing skills.

In the Reggio Emilia school model, the program has a child-directed curriculum:  Teachers take their lessons where the student interests dictate.  Classrooms are filled with drama play areas, work tables, environments for interactions and communication.  The emphasis is on arts:  Children learn “multiple symbolic languages” such as painting, music, drama, math, experimentation… The teachers are researchers for the children, they explore their interests, and learn alongside the pupils.

Another example; in the town of Grangeton, the children run the town:  They work in the bank, the supermarket, they handle cash registers, they manage the museum, they write original film screenplay, they run the TV shows and the music of the radio station.  The key word according to director Richard Gerver is: “Experimental and contextual.  At no stage the message is of passing an exam.”  The rigorous classroom work boils down to practical applications of course materials.

Children are motivated and committed and they play the role of catalyst for families and communities to getting involved in project development.  The bottom line is that students need opportunities, exposure, and involvement in curriculum in order to discovering skills, talents, and life passions.  The transformation needs to becoming Student-Centered and the teachers highly valued in remuneration and independence as the cornerstone for successful school performance.

Note:  I consider this article as complementary to my post  since we need to improve systems that are more powerful than any individual family actions or programs.

The prime enemies to Capitalist America are well-adjusted and well-fed minority and working class kids.  Parents in the US are witnessing a reduction of 40% of their quality time to caring for their kids.  Kids return home alone, eat frozen food, watch TV, play video games, and isolated from their environment. Parents have to work twice harder for longer duration for less than what they earned three decades ago. Even national health care coverage for the downtrodden has barely passed Congress with drastic restrictions.  Kids are getting hooked to alcohol and drugs and are seeking gang-type protection against their loneliness and disorientation.  Fact is, most States considered satellites to the USA lack national health coverage and the schooling system is mostly privatized.

Why IQ is dropping dangerously?  James Coleman reached this conclusion: “Kids competence in school depend largely on the total effect of the environment (family, community…)  The total effect of school programs and system are secondary factors.  It is basically the lack of environmental support and care that is driving kids stupid and dropping from schools:  Kids are being herded to the job market earlier than expected and working in minimum wage jobs with no prospect for advance for lack of adequate education.

For example, Bush Junior has started this program “No Child Left Behind” and is continued by Obama with a nastier restriction.  This program is meant to just teaching kids to the test.  Kids are tested every couple of years and so are the teachers tested in “performance” of teaching to the test program.  Not only kids are not learning but teachers have been robbed of their educational rights to forming good minds, reflecting brains, offering various perspectives and point of views.  Students are to answer according to preset ideological programs.  Obama wants that teachers be evaluated by students!  Ignorant kids evaluating how well the teacher is preparing him to pass a stupid test. Teachers have to play kid among kids to earning his salary:  kids are not learning anything in deep; the educational system does not want to produce competent and creative kids:  Just kids proficient in passing tests.  Later on, proficient in scalping institutions and bypassing regulations by learning how the system works.

John Dewey (1859-1952), social reformer and influential in educational methods, was a prime US principal sources of inspiration to a progressive educational movement.  Dewey wrote: “The ultimate goal of education is not consumerism goods but producing free men, associated as equals.”  Dewey stated in 1920: “Power resides in the control of means of production, of exchange, of publicity, of transport, and of communication.  Those running these facilities are governing the society. The quest for profit is managed and controlled by banks, landowners, and barons of industries. This quest for profit is reinforced by the press, journalists, and the other vectors in publicity and propaganda.”

The British mathematician and philosopher, Bertrand Russell stated: “Education has for objective to extending values contrary to domination; it must be forming well-advised citizens, in a free society; to conciliate patriotism and liberty with individual creativity.  This pre-suppose treating children as we treat a young shoot endowed with proper nature:  Requiring the right soil, air, light, and water.

The current educational ideology can be summarized as follows: “Each individual, in an ideal configuration, seeks to a position of master among slaves.”  Relentless competition and the lure for quick gain are sure ways to destroying a sense of community.  Normal people are feeling insecure, afraid, and uneasy in their environment.  People are claiming to be “apolitical” (in a bad connotation) because they feel helpless to performing any social changes:  They simply blame the political structure, government, and official.

People are sensing after frequent crisis (preemptive wars, financial crashes, and reduction in opportunities and salaries) that governments are but shadows to the capitalist structure favoring private multinationals.  Capitalist enterprises impress upon governments the policies and laws that suit their monopoly over reducing common people to serfdom.

The media is not doing an honest job:  They are not pointing the finger to the proper sources of people’s insecurity and inequality in opportunity and wealth.

For example, David Moss of Harvard Business School compared two graphs extending for a century.  The first graph showed statistics of the gap between the rich and the poor in America over the years.  The second graph showed the tightening of financial regulations and financial crisis.  The two graphs matched completely.  In 1929, 10% of Americans hoarded 50% of the wealth (the 1% of the richest Americans disposed of 24% of the total wealth). In 2007, exactly the same gap between the classes were observed.  In Europe, more factors inter in times of crisis because the States are involved in supporting the downtrodden in matters of health, schooling, and subsidies to the less fortunates.  While in 1930 the gap shrank between the classes, this gap has not changed since 2007.  Most probably, the crisis is not over until the Federal government support the less fortunate in work opportunities and better salaries.

Note:  You are encouraged to read Noam Chomsky’s “For a humanist education”


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

December 2020
M T W T F S S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

Blog Stats

  • 1,441,760 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 784 other followers

%d bloggers like this: