Saturday, 13 June 2009

a vignette on the politics of education …

Information is power. Education is power.
(I'll apologise in advance for the forthcoming series of generalisations.)
It's an increasing sign of the times that we proles, collectively, know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
'We' don't want power any more. Too much responsibility. ;)
'Hey, Big Bro, I'm an honest citizen!: absorb all my personal information and stick it on a 'smart'-card; feel free to 'stuff up' (wooops) occasionally and leak it; scrutinise all my financial transactions; monitor me with videocams in every public place.
Because, since I've been so comprehensively pimped, I really don't need to know your agenda.'

In return?
'I just want cheap consumables and plasma bonuses and 10GB downloads; 'economic stimulus' handouts and cheap air-fares and pretend news featuring Brittney and Gordon Ramsay.
But I want 'em NOW, goddamnit!'
(The grandkids? Stuff 'em.)

Inevitably, the ascendancy of 'wants' over 'needs' impacts on the quality of information which is delivered to us.
In the media?
Competition: 'bottom-line'-obsessed shareholders: cost-cutting: shortage of (educated) true professionals who know how to source and write up real news: sectional, dollar-corrupted lobbyists increasingly in control of the public information-stream.
Consequentially, shoddy writing and dubious material rulez.
(The Truth? like whatever, dude.)

A priori, in the classroom? Same deal!
Market economics, craving drones but cloaked in the garb of Political Correctness, for example.
Due to budgetary pressures and inadequate ('flexible' & borderline arbitrary) 'outcomes benchmarks', too few students are allowed to 'Fail' any more.
Hence, in this (education / empowerment) resources void, there is little pressure on students to learn from one's mistakes and get it right next time.
No, the real pressure is on the institution - on the teachers - to achieve (frakkin) 'outcomes' ahead of imparting genuine, lifelong knowledge.
Kids are too often rated 'Competent' with little or no genuine actual proof, then pushed ahead into the next grade.
(Should it prove more expedient to the school, they're simply abandoned: I work with an organization which tries to rescue some of these.)
Those who survive school end up, poorly-equipped, in the workforce (even in tertiary institutions) with their various bits of paper which, quite simply, lie about their accomplishments.
Inevitably, many turn out as reporters and school-teachers. (Most dangerous of all, parents!)
Almost every working day I deal with with 'professionals' holding at least one tertiary qualification who haven't achieved Year 12 literacy standards, who can't do Year 10 maths, who can't sustain a coherent argument, who believe in the 'powers' of 'crystals' … who can't drive a car properly (some even don't know how to lift the bonnet).

And so the wheel keeps turning.
The culture, as I see it, is badly broken.

Without a solid grounding English standards, for example, are mutable … or don't exist at all.
A believer in a truly inclusive society, I can live with (and even accept) the consequences of a widespread decline into vacuity - but that doesn't make it all right.
As a body, Western society has apparently taken the position that the individual's propensity to consume is more important than their personal empowerment – more important, for that matter, than the welfare of future generations.)
This will continue until we collectively cry 'Enough!'
Meanwhile, bullshit rules.
And I'll guarantee it's gonna get a lot worse before it gets any better.

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