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View Diary: Education - a comprehensive look at Arne Duncan and Chicago schools (75 comments)

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  •  The capitalist system at this stage -- (3+ / 0-)
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    Ms Citizen, dolfin66, ktward

    has been through thirty years of an enormous surplus of capital; productive facilities gone to waste, investment capital with nowhere to go.

    There neither was nor is any "pure capitalism" in the libertarians' sense of it, because capitalism in its mode of operation requires the capitalist state.  It is thus always most accurate to talk about a capitalist system, about the evolution and the history of the capitalist system.

    Immanuel Wallerstein put out a famous statement around the beginning of the century that we are now seeing the beginning of the end of the capitalist system.  The reasons he gave for this judgment are too abstract to mention here; but he's pretty much right.  The capitalist system suffers from extreme hypertrophy.  The vehicle is too big; the gas tank rapidly approaches "empty."  Resources are running out, while the point of "business" in this era has gotten too mixed up with predatory finance.

    Education appears to me as part of this decline.  While mainstream society clings as rigidly as ever to the utopian promises of the educational system (after all, one of the main selling points of NCLB was "closing the achievement gap"), actual educational systems waste enormous amounts of parent, teacher, and student time with a narrowcasted emphasis upon "standards," tests, and perfunctory "homework," all of which serve the system mainly as agencies of control over children.  When you have a system that  has as its main point the sequestering of children away from their parents so that the greater rituals of wage labor may take place unhindered by their presence, that's what develops.  

    There has always been, however, some degree of "slack" in the system; the point of criticizing Arne Duncan appears at this point as a concern over the disappearance of that "slack."

    Educational researcher Seymour B. Sarason reflected back in the '70s that the main problem with the schools was that in the eyes of their students they couldn't hold a candle to "real life."  So here we are, thirty-five years later, and it's still true.  Oh, sure, a few radicals here and there have advocated an alternative to this educational form; their ideas never gained any traction however.

    "You must do what you feel is right, of course" -- Obi-Wan Kenobi, in Episode IV

    by Cassiodorus on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:38:18 AM PDT

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    •  Great summary!!!!!!!!! (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassiodorus, Ms Citizen, JeffW, ktward

      That's the best and most concise summary of the entire scope of what I, and many others on this blog have been bashing their heads against for the year that I've been on this and probably longer.  

      When my students would complain about "why they needed to know" something, I told them a kind of fable about what it was like 50,000 years ago.  Instead of a cozy classroom, we'd be sitting around a campfire learning to knap flint into arrowheads and spearpoints.  If the students didn't learn the skill and the technology, the entire tribe's existence was immediately at risk.  I didn't realize until I read your comment that I was creating a scene for a new paradigm in education.

      Sadly, parents and our society are totally and irrevocably hooked on school as baby sitter concepts.  Learning to make a better society is an "oh, by the way..." deal while underpaid, overworked and unappreciated educators are slaved to the parents' whims.  

      Maybe we should collaborate on a book.  It could be fiction, or a non-fiction cold shower.  What do you think?

      "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

      by dolfin66 on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:56:24 AM PDT

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