Wednesday, October 12, 2005

little voices

from: adbusters jul/aug '05. #60.vol.13.#4


Lian said...

wondered if you could comment a little on this. I'm at a loss as to whether this is about adults and children or about the education system.
Sorry, feeling a bit out of touch.

chuck said...

do children truly speak the voices of angels? i feel more like they protest against things they don't realize will be contributing to their eventual growth. should their voices be swept beneath the rug? of course not. but i'm not sure that giving them a bullhorn would be nothing more than a dissonant note in the ears of adults.

Anonymous said...

I was put in a box today...
trapped by the mind of another
"Christian" he mused...
while tightly fastening

This stifling chamber
now impenetrable by word or deed
masterfully crafted
by fat words void of action
meticulously maintained
through heartless tradition
firmly rooted
in obstinacy and pride
ruthlessly defended
with piercing judgments

I was put in a box today...
trapped by the mind of another
i scream for my freedom
the echo convicts

The builder of this box
he or I?

elnellis said...

thanks chad and chuck... and anonymous?... i guess where this add drew me in was in the idea of recovering lost voices (women, ethnic, poor, oppressed) and i was struck by the question- "since the privileged white male has so swiftly missed these others, why should we assume that children have been heard?" and not just vocally (true- the nonangelic whining about homework is not the issue) but what about learning styles? isn't the classroom geared towards just one? and the difference between the way little boys vs little girls learn? and the speed at which everyone develops differently? and the way we celebrate certain achievments over others (the math wiz kid over the crayola artist)?
i'd love to hear what you guys think too...

chuck said...

hey mr. anon, i'm not sure we're actually talking about christianity here fella, might want to repaste to chad's blog.

anywhoo. i hear what you're saying about structural rigidity, but also we have to take into account that this rigidity's source is a biproduct of economic/competitive forces. for example, you have 200 6 year olds in your school district area. you budget allows for 5 teachers. 25-35 kids in each classroom divided by 1 teacher= cattle car educational movement. kids fall through the cracks and are moved up when they should stay back and kept in place when they should be moved up. the demends placed on the teacher, principal and superintendent are that they must meet a state requirement for 6th grade graduation each year or they risk being fired. there are so many amazing elementary school teachers who yearn for indivdual, case learning, but simply find themselves caught in a western 'factory' model of education. i guess in the end the home schoolers really are the superior race afterall. damn.

Chauffeur said...

El sistema educativo, del país que sea, es una mierda. Las condiciones en las que se desarrolla la vida escolar no son saludables, Philip Jackson en su libro "La vida en las aulas", Compara la escuela con otras instituciones entre ellas una prisión y un hospital mental, y NO HAY DIFERENCIA. en las 3 te obligar a estar ahi, no es si quieres o no. bueno, el problema mayor que le veo es que estamos tratando de forzar a un niño a entrar en un ambiente que él siente hostil, me pregunto cuantos traumas se evitarian si no se obligara ir a la escuela, al menos en las condiciones que tenemos hoy día, por lo pronto Columbine no hubiera pasado y muchas otras situaciones se hubieran evitado.

Lian said...

Obviously, can't respond to Jaime's addition to this discussion, sorry Jaime.
I think there are tonnes of problems with the US educational system - one of them being the lack of personal attention and the "cattle car" system you're talking about Chuck. But I see the other problem beginning to creep in over here in Aus (which has an excellent system - a much smaller population of course) - that is, the reluctance to point out failure. This has been a problem in the US for a long time and recently Aus grading systems were changed so that an E is not a fail or "unsatisfactory" it is now an "unsatisfactory achievement". Since when should an E be called an achievement?
The type of attention and specified work kids are getting definitely needs work, but they also need to be told when they are slacking off or are simply not good at a particular area. We don't need to encourage a fantasy land of "you can be whatever you want" any more. Let's be more honest about who we are and who our kids are.

elnellis said...

yup, now we have parents sueing schools for destroying the kid's self esteem by assigning a failing grade... back to the entitlement issue so prevalent in our culture.

as far as the economic side of it... i can see what you mean chuck. i often tend to speculate in the ideal, not the real. and i refuse to accept the obvious... homeschool is they way to go. damn's right!

and as for what jaime brought, what educational system of what country really "works?" i'd be curious. and "works" reaks of pragmatism... who decides what a kid "needs to be taught" in order to be a well adjusted, assimilated citizen. is the goal to build upon and provide stimulation of a child's natural gifts and tendancies? or is it really to create more uniformity... more Normal people. "The Normal is the good smile in a child's eyes...It is also the dead stare in a million adults."- peter schaffer

elnellis said...

Allan Bloom, in his provocative peice, "The Closing of the American Mind"... well after reading half of chapter one i was struck by his take on the educational system - very much in sequence with what you gentleman are speaking of. Each educational system under any and every regiem is speciafically set up to "produce" citizens that will "cooperate" under said regime.
The following quote may be of interest as it seems to fall in line with the "everyone is equal even though we aren't" statements regarding grades ect.
" So indiscriminateness is a moral imperative because its opposite is discrimination. This folly means that men are not permitted to seek for the natural human good and admire it when found, for such discovery is coeval with the discovery of the bad and contempt for it. Instinct and intellect must be suppressed by education. The natural soul is to be replaced with an artificial one." (pg 30)
Also "The purpose of their education is not to make them scholars but to provide them with a moral virtue - openness. " (pg 26)

Maybe now i'd better finish the damn book...

chuck said...

you're quite the prodegy aren't you young sylas, as supreme chancellor palpatine said, "we shall be watching your career with great interest."

ironically one of redemptive things i got from moody was from dr. lee in educational foundations. he was able to really elucidate the varied learning modes into: idustrial-teacher centered learning, ephasizing the production of a consistant product with a standard of acheivement.
garden-student centered learning, where the student is let loose to observe and interact forming their own conculsions.
finally the commmunist-social centered learning, where a collabrative effort takes place in experimentation and discorse, and the results are ultimately measured in real world context of a living community.

now obviously the last sounds the most attractive, but also the one most potentially wrought with disaster due to it's ambiguity of heirarchy. but i think it's possible to see this happen in america, it'd be a chance worth taking.a kind of home schooler community. so i guess moody was the perfect school afterall. damn.

pedro said...

My wife and I were backpacking lastweekend here in Minnesoooota, where I reside, and we met an interesting couple. The husband had taken a temporary hiatus from his doctorate to be a better husband/father/person, having realized that in splitting himself so many ways, he was becoming mediocre in all ways.

Anyway, this guy's Ph.D. was in American Lit., and his dissertation was on how language and literature are used in education to push ideology on impressionable minds. His research had involved various ideologies, including one dear to his heart - environmentalism. He related his conviction to me that he found the practice of abusing literature into pushing an ideology (even one with which one agrees) to be insidious.

I fully agreed with him and related my own pre-college educational background in a Christian school that utilized a fundamentalist evangelical curriculum that twisted literature (and especially history) into espousing a Christian perspective, a practice that I find equally odious.

My junior year of high school I attended a school which espoused a more liberal perspective, and my American history classes contained content that was novel to me, most of it cenered around historical social issues (the oppression of Native Americans and African Americans, feminism and the advent of birth control, civil rights, etc.)

From my experience and perspective, such utilization of education to espouse ideology is humanly unavoidable (fundamentalist islamic primary schools do much of the same in many areas of the Muslim world). What is required, then, in the education of our youth is not insulation from ideology or perspectives that differ from our own, but expoure to different perspectives. Education should ideally equip people to THINK and be able to debate and discern the merits and detriments of various schools of thought. Children do develop this ability throughout their early mental development, but we can begin to equip them as they are able to be equipped. I feel that the ability to think critically is one of the greatest gifts that I received froom Moody.

The value of critical thinking, as Sylas pointed out, is that it does lead to critical discrimination between thoughts. The opposite of bigotry and closemindedness is not openness in the sense of believing that all modes of thought and ideas are equally valid or true, for such an absurd concept is really non-belief. The opposite of bigotry is acceptance of dialogue and respect of belief, even if that respect is not agreement with the veracity of the idea. Socrates recognized, at least, the value of a good question. A good questio does not express judgment but promotes inquiry and discovery.

In encountering others we change and are changed.

Obviously there is the risk that free-thinking and critical reasoning may lead to conclusions with which one may personally disagree, but that is a risk that is worth taking; after all, no one is perfect, yet the grace of God abounds ("there's grace in the Kingdom", as one Moody prof was wont to say)

Such a practice promotes self-and-other-understanding and the willingness to enter into another's thought for empathy and understanding. The book Ender's Game is an intriguing look into empathy, indeed love, through completely knowing other even if other is absolutely foreign an alien.

Anonymous, I don't know why you feel that you've been put into a box, but we desire to know you, your identity, your thoughts; we desire to know not to tear down but to dialogue and to build up. I am sorry if you have had a history that has resulted in a harsh view of Christianity. Yes, Christians can be vicious bigots (as can anyone else who refuses to seek understanding who refuses to value another's right to believe differently). Please accept an apology and respond to this plea for restitution.

p.s., Coffee should pe part of any intellectual inquiry. I find that its psychoactive properties stimulate intellectual activity.

pedro said...

more thoughts:

The nature of our system in the West is that education must on some level be pragmatic, because education here fuels specialization.

Lawyers specialize in an aspect of teh law; doctors are trained to specialize in an aspect of the medical field; MBA'a are taught to run businesses.

In some ways, specialization is necessary in such a complex, technologically-rich society, but what has been lost is the ability to reason and think logically - to compare, contrast, and corrolate ideas. My wife and I just moved out of a small college town in southeastern Minnesota, and I was appalled at the lack of thoughtfulness and critical reasoning that was exhibited by a majority of the students who attended and graduated from that school. They did not attend the university to learn to think; they went to get stheir slice of the American pie, to share in the American dream. For most, education is about getting a good job and living a good (?) middle-class life.

What we need is some people who can (as Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann has said) take a "crude look at the whole." That is, we need some who can pull all of the specializations and fields of academic pursuit into a consistent interrelationship. Otherwise, the capitalist Western machine will roll on until it is fatally sabotaged or until it runs out of steam.

Jaime (pronounced /hymay/) said...

Sylas me siento muy orgulloso de ser tu tio. When i was your age i used to read comics, but its good you start getting interested in other literature.
Lian, What i was saying is that, Philip Jackson in his book "La vida en las aulas", Compares the School with differents institutions and found out that the Prison, Mental hospital and Schools are pretty much the same, because they force you to be there and you have to submit to a schedule that somebody else planned, this are just a few similarities, i guess if you give it some thought you can come up with other reasons why are they similar.