I am now a committed writer, and at the beach I was thinking about efforts to finish Matriellez and the Treatise.
Since starting Matriellez there has been the emergence of the right – Trump Brexit and elsewhere. Fake News had been originally the accusation of leftie conspiracy theorists like me, but it has now become mainstream attacks on Fake News. This has got to have an impact on education.
Undoubtedly with the rise of the alt-right education has completely failed. Teachers have been pigeon-holed as leftie liberals and whilst there is truth in this, that is far too simplistic. A new way of teaching is required to deal with these manipulations.
First and foremost there has to be an end to classroom censorship along the lines that students can’t cope. There was a liberal ill-conceived approach of mollycoddling students so that they would not be exposed to the worst sort of indoctrination. Instead of that working, students as usual were alienated from teachers and some have become attracted to the alt-right as an alternative to liberalism.
Let’s examine liberalism in schools. Now what happens in discussions on social issues in schools. Teachers are supposed to present a balanced viewpoint so there is a sea-saw in which the distance between the two ends of left and right is very small. This is ludicrously artificial. Students often do not fall between these arbitrary extremes – especially on the right. Students are expected to fall between this balanced spectrum, and in discussions teachers direct students within these limits. This is censorship.
The consequence of this censorship is that students repress their views, and seek support outside of education where they might be able to learn. It is this censorship that leads to the alt-right pigeon-holing of PC and liberalism.
What I experienced was totally different. I was not liberal, I was genuine left and my views were considered too extreme. In fact I never believed that students should follow my views. What I do believe is that students should be exposed to all views and learn to discern what is the truth for them. It is discernment we should be teaching and not views. End the sea-saw and teach discernment.
It is my view that a teacher as in any other situation of moderation should express their view so that the students know and draw conclusions for themselves. But then in discussion the teachers should not participate whilst maintaining facilitative control. In this way I feel the spectrum widens.
With the widening spectrum more views could well be expressed. Students must feel they have the freedom to express their views. I had a recent discussion in which a white student who was regularly attacked by black bullies to get dinner money etc. felt that he could not describe his experience in a majority black school. All people should have been aware of his experience and further all people should know that the school avoided trying to resolve this criminal bullying (hiding behind race). This could only come out if all people were aware of the problem.
The classroom needs to be seen as a protected environment – a commitment from all students that nothing said will be responded to outside. The classroom needs also to be seen as a non-insulting environment. “White people not allowed to use the word “nigger” whilst black people can” is an appropriate topic for discussion but not if people in the room feel they have the right to insult others. To determine whether an insult has occurred would be the right of the class. The teaching point is discernment and not views.
This discernment can be then extrapolated to consideration of “fake news”, and the teaching point that is needed is that students should not accept anything unless they know it to be true. This creates difficulty for education because liberal education tends to present its own viewpoint as truth and eschew other viewpoints – censorship. It is this censorship that has enabled the alt-right to influence ignorant minds. Such minds are willing to accept as truth statements that many including factcheck organisations dismiss as lies because that truth fits in with a particular cultural outlook – often racist. If those minds were used to being heard, if their views were expressed and accepted as experience as opposed to being confronted by liberalism. If white youth feel fear on black streets that fear should be expressed. If black people say “man up” every black person suffers from racism and has to deal with it. That also needs to be heard. At present neither is, as it is not liberal.
It is important to recognise that liberal censorship is in operation and that this censorship has been manipulated into being a significant factor in the move to the right. Such censorship needs to end and genuine education by understanding as opposed to liberal imposition needs to be the modus operandi.
It is not likely that liberals will give up their foothold.
|Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.
Our understanding of leadership is dominated by our egos. I recently saw this article about leaders in schools, and for me it completely missed the point. A good leader is an enabler. A leader works with the people s/he leads bringing the best out of all of them.
Why is this even questioned? Because of what is imposed on our leaders. Take the school for example. What is the primary purpose of the leader? To educate – far from it. To ensure that the school works within the rules imposed on it by society. This basically means that a school must provide a workforce for the 1%, and ensures failures so that the children of the 1% can be successful. At the same time the leader must ensure that the teachers remain sufficiently demotivated and unaware of the reality of what “education” is supposed to be. Therefore the role of leader is that of repressor without giving away that it is repression.
I recently came across libertarianism again, some of whose analysis is spot on, but whose policy and practice absolutely sucks. One aspect is that they blame a system of government, and what angered me so much about my last encounter with such theoreticians was that his mindset about government meant that he could not allow for my compassion as teacher because I worked for the government even when I told him and showed my compassion towards him. Their mindset is so limiting.
It comes down to the function of government, not in theory but in reality. What are our governments? 1% puppets. What is the function of these puppets? To maintain the delusion that there is a democracy whilst syphoning all the money and assets into the accounts of the 1%. This the government does even when there is such a farce as the Clinton-Trump election. The function of government at the moment is maintaining delusion (as discussed in Lifting the Veil) and facilitating the expropriation of money to the accounts of the few. According to Howard Zinn’s “peoples-history-of-the-united-states-1492-present” the US has always been this way despite what the constitution says, and this would be consistent with history as the US was originally a UK colony and that was UK policy.
But in theory leading is enabling. A team of people can effectively only be successful when all people are working to their optimum, that is straight-forward. When all people are not enabled to do so the leader has failed unless the objective is not to get the best out of people. In most situations in the world today this is not what the leader is tasked to do, and this is also why libertarians and the apologist who wrote the flipboard article all miss the point; fundamentally the article is concerned with maintaining the standard delusion.
A leader evaluates the team, determines their relative strengths and enables them to use their strengths and helps them overcome their weaknesses; this might involve recognition of the weakness and ensuring someone else does the work instead. In many ways the effectiveness of the leader is the ability to maintain a different purpose to that of maintaining repression and delusion but to do that usually involves personal sacrifice, and most leaders have too strong egos to sacrifice themselves on the altar of compassion. Hence many school leaders to do not enable their teachers to educate, and many government do not enable democratic involvement that includes caring for the weaker.
One might further examine governments and the nature of fascism. Here wiki examines fascism. Usually fascism is associated with the right wing, but does it have to? My view of fascism is that it has two components – authoritarianism and the use of the military wing of government to maintain itself. Although I would not describe our neo-liberal electoral democracies as fascist there is a degree of fascism when one analyses in terms of authoritarianism and the use of military.
I begin with an incident with an erstwhile friend. We had known each other for a while, and he had a very good mindset that could be described as Icke-ist. I argued with him that he needed an open mind that was tolerant and did not attach to a mindset; this disturbed him. I could not agree with some of the Icke-ist approaches involving lizards and Illuminati. This came to a confrontation where there was no agreement and I felt so psychically shattered for three days it was worse than if I had been bullied. Here the friend presented his mindset, in effect demanded I accept it and when I didn’t applied use of force, I suspect unconsciously. Is this not the approach of a fascist?
What about western neo-liberal electoral democracies? They demand that we accept the delusion that they are genuinely democratic. We can choose to vote for candidates who ensure the system remains in favour of the 1%, and at times will use the police force to ensure there is no dissent against the prevailing system. Look at some of the atrocities that occurred against the Occupy movement. Whilst it would not be appropriate to describe such systems as fascist, they are authoritarian and do use the military if required. However mostly these neo-liberal societies have a social compliance where in general people accept the systems as they are and are happy with the delusions that are maintained. Usually as well they claim that there is free speech, and point to the lack of free speech as a facit of fascism. But in neo-liberal systems free speech is controlled in the sense that any criticism of the system is countered and the free speech is effectively useless. Such a liberal authoritarianism maintains a delusion but does not have an effective means of change based on democratic will except through a controlled electoral choice. It could be described as fascism without obvious repression.
This neo-fascism or neo-liberalism is what our western leadership is about. It is a style of leadership that does not enable the people in the same way as the leadership styles of the <a href="http://article do not enable teachers and do not enable education. The one good thing about Trump is that as a Republican leader he has exposed the delusion of the Veil in US politics, it will be interesting to see whether there will be any implications of this following the election – that I expect he will lose.
Just before the end of this term I attended a retirement do at the village school I volunteer for. This do was for two teachers, and it was fundamentally a community event.
I first met this community aspect 6 or 7 years ago at the kindergarten I taught at. Once a year the parents have a do at the school in which the kids dance (prepared by the teacher) and the parents bring food. A pleasant day but typically a tedious school event. Various officers from the education department also attended, and I got dragged into a formal meal with them. It was PR but the parents brought the food and it was community.
The retirement do had a lot more. The school had a day off, and the event started at 07.00 am. The thought of attending a school function (in Thai) from that time until early afternoon did my head in, but I wanted to show respect because I had worked with one of the teachers so I attended from 10.30. My Principal who is one of the few Principals I have ever had time for always parades her Native English speaker, and I don’t like it. I do not blame her, my working there apparently increases her school’s selection but I do not like it – it is a Thai community event.
At 10.30 the two retirees were sat on the stage, and the students all went on the stage and poured water from a small cup over the hands – a traditional gesture of respect, I think. I looked at it and became self-conscious as the Principal asked if I wanted to do it. My ego was sufficiently low to realise that if I didn’t it would be disrespectful so I overcame my self-consciousness and did it. This has no relevance at all to this blogpost.
After the whole hall, including parents, education office, police – monks had been there earlier – had paraded past, the dancing started. Every class did some form of Thai dance. I happened to be sat next to the two retirees – I suspect placed there by the Principal to be seen, and I watched as all kinds of people came up to the two teachers. Ex-students were there, and again I suspect that many adults who paid tribute were also ex-students and had made time to come back and pay respect.
I had lunch, the photos were still happening, and went home. I would hate to have to do that too often – tedious. But the teachers had something to remember. However genuine this display of community respect was it at least had the appearance of respect for a person who was important to the community and parents – a year 6 and year 4 primary school teacher.
I want to compare this with long-serving teachers in the UK who I had worked with. It was in two different schools, the three teachers had “risen” to Deputy Head, and had worked hard for their secondary schools. There were announcements in assembly, and the students were polite. Staff associations organised leaving dos, and more of an effort was put in for these people – and that was it. No parental involvement, no community involvement, the students did little. When I watched what this small village school and its community did for these two retirees and compared it with the lack of respect shown the long-serving Deputy Heads I had worked with, I just felt anger.
Despite all the politics surrounding education teachers are community lynchpins, these people are community elders, and our western communities are deeply lacking in their respect.
The article has a teacher recommending teachers increase online profiles, what do the parents give back for this? I do not blame parents it is the escapist ethos that is manipulated around teachers – as well as the pressure placed on parents’ time. But whilst I don’t blame the parents shouldn’t they be ashamed by comparison with this small farming community? Shouldn’t the communities? Parents, teachers and students should be working together despite the politics that intentionally divides them.
Look at this clip on consensus democracy taken from the group at Occupy Wall Street:-
…. this is democracy. This is the democracy that good education should empower. Where has it come from? Apologists for the education system would cliam that it came as a by-product of how these people were educated, but if you ask them they say that they are against the system.
I surmise that it has grown out of similar movements globally. From the movie “The Take” – a discussion of cooperatives that grew out of the financial crisis in Argentina, Horizontalidad worked on a 3-stage process leading to the cooperative:-
Perhaps this is the model that #ows is working on.
What is impressive – as can be seen from the consensus democracy clip above – is that these people are dedicated to genuine democracy. They spend time making decisions, they have a process which ensures that all people who want a voice have one, and they are not satisfied with token representation that enables individuals to be corrupted.
There are criticisms of #ows that appear in the media. Personally I think these criticisms are there as divisive tactics, but I will answer them in terms of democratic principles. Let’s start with the issue of representation. I have discussed it here but to rehash briefly representation allows for an individual to be syphoned away from the collective strength. Whilst it might be easier to discuss between individuals, in practice it was never a disc ussion between equals, and because the membership did not participate there were always doubts around the process. As for representation in a a voting democracy the process has been completely flawed by opportunists seeking power and financed opportunists seeking to subvert democratic power. As a result the current governmental process that some would argue had a democratic basis, in practice leads to a system that supports the corporatocracy – the 1%.
As for demands we have another red herring. What is wrong with the system? It doesn’t work. Why? It doesn’t represent the interests of the people. It is a democratic system that is not democratic. The demand is to call for a democratic system. Isn’t that enough of a demand? What isn’t clear about the demand? What the system actually wants is for the demand to be changed because they are unwilling to deliver it. In the US if Obama actually carried through with his electoral platform there would be the beginning of a reform of the democratic process, but there are evident doubts that what Obama promised were little more than a platform to get votes; certainly the administration he put in place had no intention of implementing his electoral promises. As I wrote here, when a plane breaks down and you ask for it to be fixed you don’t expect the airline to ask you how you want it fixed?
Demands have become a strategy of control in which the powerful are able to mainpulate the process. Take a list of 10 demands, cut them in half and give token agreement to the other five. This is demand negotiation. The existing system of demands and representation has no intention of being successful, and by successful I mean democratic, and that is why for such a long time it is only apologists who have called the system democratic.
The issue of the system as it stands is there is no intention of representing the interest of all the people in the democracy. For a school educating for democracy the education issue is not a discussion of representation but a question of empowerment and the need to develop a sense of collective responsibility as well as responsibility to the collective. This cannot come from a history of democracy or token representation on a school council. It needs to come from genuine power in which students desires can be enabled once established. In schools all the participants of the education process are disempowered, so why would it be different for students? Perhaps the most vehement critics of student representation are the teachers who have seen these students in action. Their demands are generally superficial, such as no homework. But that is because they have been disenfranchised, and they react by being superficial.
There are two areas of democratic involvement that need to be considered:-
For classroom democracy I have already broached the notion of peer evaluation. OK I am going to place this democracy in a context that makes it practical – within the context of natural development. There comes a time when parents know that they must give their children autonomy, I suggest this time comes at the time of Piaget’s fourth stage. I have already described the notion of autonomous mastery. This autonomy is developed throughout the school as part of WCAM, but if it is not empowered in some way then this autonomy will not yield democracy. Using Piaget’s model thios autonomy is going to come to feruition during the fourth stage of conceptual thinking, and it is at this stage their autonomy needs to gain substantive power. This can begin with the quality portfolio being peer-assessed. Earlier in the school there copuld havee been dry runs but at the stage of year 10 they coujld actually create the quality portfolio. How? Earlier in the school whilst encouraging the autonomy the teacher can begin to explin trhe values of critical assessment for example. by thed time students are in year 10 they would understand these values. With the evaluation dry runs they will have seen how their evaluations fit in woth these criteria and what is ewxpected by their teachers and by their peers – the fellow students. Once such evaluations become meaningful students will demonstrate collective reponsibility.
The radical aspect of this proposal comes in school democracy. Initially that sounds a daunting prospect to allow immature people to evaluate their education but in truth the evaluation is a only a problem if the education system is not designed for all the students. In other words if the system is designed for student failure how can their involvement be constructive as such an objective is not in their interest. The negativity which many students adopt when interfacing with the education system is a clear indication that deep inside they recognise that failure inherent in the system. Perhaps they don’t attribute that failure to design as do I and a number of others (John Taylor Gatto, Alfie Kohn, etc.). When whole communities become alienated – including those initially motivated to participate (as in the case of the UK Afro-Caribbean community in the 60s and 70s), there needs to be a recognition from the authorities that the system needs fixing. Attempting any of the educational changes I have proposed cannot work in this system within the corporate paradigm designed to fail the 99%, but if it were a system to educate 100% then there is no reason for the 100% not to participate. And there would therefore be no reason to assume that peer assessment and evaluation cannot work – no reason to believe that the students could not work within a school run by consensus democracy.
In fact once you begin to open your minds to the possibility of students actively participating in their own education then you can begin to expand your educational objectives. Who knows the students better than the teachers? The students. If their evaluation could be trusted how much more useful information could be taken from school to the workplace? As a Buddhist I know that which is lacking most in society and that which is most needed is sila – moral integrity. If you look at Zandtao , you will see that sila is the basis for the Path and and for a happy mature life. Suppose you add sila to the Quality Portfolio, who best can assess the moral integrity of those in the class than the students themselves? Of course the arguments used against such an approach are based around current behaviour of adolescents in school. We assume that jock-worship or cheerleader egotism is inherent in adolescents, why? These are responses to their environments – schools that are failing them. If schools become places where adolescents participate, then we have students supporting each other. Then we have the best judges.
Some of the classes I taught the students were motivated. Within all classes there are far more dynamics than teachers are aware of, how can teachers be that aware? They are not included in all activities. Do the students know who are the best at a subject? Of course. If I taught a technique they soon knew who had grasped it. As I always encouraged work-based discussion (as opposed to chatting) conversation occurred about the work – hopefully, and this meant that the solution tended to get passed on from the best to the worst. This was not students asking all before finding the correct answer – they knew. They did not wait for assessments to know who had grasped the ideas, they knew. They also knew who would cooperate, who was good, who would work with each other and so on. They knew. Students know so much – even about you the teacher. At the moment that knowledge of the teacher is used disruptively – when the teacher is at a low ebb we can have fun etc. But what if that knowledge could be used in assessment positively? This is what I envisage with peer assessment through the quality portfolio. Then not only will we get work-based evaluations as we do at present – who has passed which exam, we get skill-based assessment with the attribute of the quality portfolio I discussed before – insight, critical thinking etc., but we also get different qualities that teahers cannot assess the best – peer collaboration, sila etc.
Through Occupy I have learnt the value of consensus democracy in the classroom, and this has led to an improved Quality Portfolio. Sad really as all this improved education is based around a system designed to educate – not the corporate paradigm design of failure. Schools are designed to create the 99%. Sad.
When I first started thinking about the four components of Matriellez education:-
…. then initially I feel there is little to be altered when considering democratic empowerment; but then I began to think:-
“Why did the realisation of the changing approach to democracy at Occupy affect me?”
And the answer is clear I needed a change in mindset. I was the teacher in the classroom leading the students to knowledge. Typically as a maths teacher I would put an example on the board, use inclusive techniques to get the students to follow, then help them practise. In terms of exam results this tended to work for those who wanted to pass. But it is all leadership, it all revolved around my telling them stuff they should learn to pass an exam, I was the leader of knowledge, they accepted this, and they tried to pass or fail. But they just accepted. Isn’t this the current failing in democracy? Some people pass by participating in the so-called democracy as some form of representative, others get what they want from the government by voting – and if they don’t they maybe try to do something about it, but most people just accept that nothing can be done. What happens in the classroom is mirrored in daily life.
Change the teacher’s mindset. Whilst the teacher has more knowledge this is not the theoretical purpose of education, the original purpose of education is to bring out from within – educare – latin. How can that happen if knowledge is imposed from outside? Mindsets need to change to bringing out, and the key to this is student confidence. Students need the confidence to genuinely express themselves – not the false expression that comes with fear and territory. Give them the confidence to express from the heart.
This problem is seriously difficult for the teachers. At present there are a significant proportion of teachers who believe that once the material has been taught that is the end of the process. If students then fail tests it is because they have failed to learn or consolidate the material. More enlightened teachers begin to consider ongoing assessment as a means of recognising whether students have learnt and adjust their teaching strategy accordingly – evaluation from assessment. But these approaches lie within the exam ambit, they are approaches that lead up to exams, what is taught is governed by those exams, and how much of what is learnt depends on the understanding of the students and the qualities of the teacher.
All is fixed by the exam and delivered by the teacher, and little is left to the innovation of the student. This is not usually a bone of contention with the students. Most accept that they have to pass exams, many will blame the teacher as not being “good” – or worse adjectives, equally many will blame themselves, but few will blame the test and almost none would say that the test is designed for them to fail. The nearest expression concerning the content is expressing the sentiment “what is the point? I’m bound to fail.” The teacher mutters encouraging platitudes and life goes on.
But what if we attempted to change these mindsets? What if the teacher did not have to deliver a set curriculum, and what if the student were judged on knowledge or understanding they have obtained independent of any curriculum?
Previously I have not discussed curriculum as it matters little when you consider the problems the corporatocracy creates. The curriculum is an adjunct to the testing. Take my subject maths – a subject that most curricula globally consider core. The corporatocracy is not concerned whether students learn maths, the maths that the CEOs need is carried out by computers and analysts, it is the mindset that is the result of the education process that is needed. And that mindset comes from accepting the education system as it is delivered in all its aspects and conforming to it with top marks – no matter what is delivered. Once you have been inculcated into the school system, then the next step is to be inculcated into the business system conforming to all its aspects – including its heartlessness – in order to gain top positions. Every business is different and therefore a curriculum learnt at school is not important except as a structure for providing conformity.
In school the measure of conformity is the testing. Everything is geared towards the tests, and the essence of testing is that a few pass and most fail. Suppose all these appalling carrot and stick impositions currently being placed on teachers’ salaries actually worked and they were able to get blood from the stone – exam successes, the authorities would simply move the goalposts – they do not want everyone to pass especially those who have not been oriented to accepting the prevailing system – the status quo. The exoteric curriculum is just a statement of attainments vaguely connected to the tests mattering little, the esoteric curriculum of creating failure and conformity is the essential curriculum that the corporatocracy is interested in.
Once you introduce the quality portfolio the issue of testing is not a problem – there are no measures connected to failure. But in terms of empowerment it is essential to consider the value of the curriculum. For democratic empowerment we want students to learn and be confident in their learning. Firstly this means the removal of testing, testing empowers only a few. Now the quality portfolio assesses educational aspects such as critical thinking, insight and whatever other value-orientated criteria is placed on the QP. Such a QP will not reference knowledge attainments, and knowledge attainment is what is essentially contained in a syllabus. So this empowerment, or autonomous mastery, removes the need for syllabi. What other aspects of the curriculum is there? Once you go beyond the basic skills of early years education such reading and writing – as discussed earlier as WARC (in Chapter 9), there is the accepted balance of subjects, arts, science and social science – as well as a certain amount of physical development. Then there is an acculturalisation element, not usually much, what might be contained in civics. Now how much of these components relate to autonomous mastery – empowerment?
In a sense that question is completely rhetorical – almost irrelevant. If the student is determining their own learning through their own autonomous mastery, then curricular knowledge attainment is irrelevant. In terms of this mastery what matters is the process, the determination, the level of innovation, and their methodology of learning, all of these demonstrate mastery and can be evaluated on the QP.
Curriculum and testing become a thing of the past as the student seeks their own knowledge – and their own empowerment through attainment of that knowledge and the mastery thereof. Evaluation of that knowledge becomes an essential vehicle for empowerment. If the learning approach is able to deliver an environment to enable autonomous mastery, the evaluation thereof is the essence of the empowerment. There are two aspects to this empowerment. The first aspect is the autonomous mastery, the student empowers themselves through the attainment of knoweldge by their own mastery gaining a confidence in their own abilities. This is very important but empowerment doesn’t stop there, this mastery needs also to be recognised by society, that recognition eseentially cones from the teacher at the moment. So despite a better educational method we are still stuck with the leader complex – the teacher.
Much of this leader complex that exists in our current education system has been obviated by Matriellez as the teacher is not seen as the deliverer of knowledge but the student is seen as the discoverer of knowledge – the master of their own learning. This is not as ridiculous as perhaps it might first seem. What about those first drawings of mummy and daddy? Objectively compared to Turner or Picasso they are pathetic, but they are mastery for that stage of development. Parents have no trouble in empowering that mastery. Imagine if at that stage the child were asked to pass a test on whether that drawing could pass Art 101 (or an appropriate level) how disillusioned and unmotivated those children would become. At home parental love encourages the students, in many cases in primary classrooms the teacher’s love adds encouragement, but in the end the student’s mastery is put to the sword by the testing system and they become failures.
For the QP the evaluation of that “drawing” or any piece of work needs to reflect their process, personal mastery and an objective mastery. This is very difficult. For this evaluation to be democratically empowering it needs to be democratically done – peer evaluation. Aaagh! To me that sounds gross for something as important as the QP being taken into the world of work, yet from all accounts peer evaluation works. It is not something I have tried as I am old school leading as teacher. Peer assessment with teacher arbitration, can that work?
I must reflect on it. It is certainly democratic. My first reflection is the appalling cliques that exist in school in which the biggest jock is the most popular and this might lead to “jock” favouritism or “cheerleader” favouritism. At the same time the most intelligent in our current system often become outcasts, an image they often choose to cultivate – geeks. If such were the criteria of peer evaluation for the QP then that would lead to a dumbing-down of education – even lower than it already is. But if the education model were changed and these popular students were not failures and therefore envious of the academically successful, perhaps peer evaluation could work. If the teacher provides the sole evaluation then there is no democracy, if the evaluation is solely peer the wrong attributes might be the criteria – not on paper but a downgrading based on emotion, with the teacher as arbitrator there might be a balance.
I need to look into this peer evaluation as a genuine form of democratic empowerment.
Occupy is a significant political movement even if it makes few gains against the corporatocracy. It is a global movement of young people who are saying there is something wrong. It has no leaders, and that is significant democratically. Here is a journalist Penny Red describing her views of the movement globally at the moment (Democracy Now 4/10/11):-
In this clip I would like you to note Penny’s description of the organisational structures that she has encountered amongst activists globally and at #OccupyWallSt. Mirina Sirtin, who is also on the panel, wrote a book “Horizontalism” concerning the struggle in Argentina in 2000. At that time the economy was in ruins, the government had closed bank accounts, and the people said enough was enough. There was no way they could challenge the global economic structures that were being imposed from above, and so they began a democratic movement they called Horizontalidad – Horizontalism. It is these Horizontalidad structures that Penny Red is describing at #OccupyWallSt.
Now this is the background to my realisation that in my whole life in education and elsewhere I have been contributing to vertical structures – the structures of the corporatocracy. And it is in changing these vertical structures that I want to address in this blog (in combination with the other facets that have made up the earlier parts of my book at Matriellez website). As I develop my understanding of this process so it will be incorporated in my book, but I have much to relearn as I am the archetypal vertical teacher.
Quite simply I have readily accepted that students come to teachers to learn, teachers have the knowledge and students must accept that knowledge from the teacher. In many senses that sounds fine. Now place that in the context of the corporatocracy, what I have described earlier in the book as the corporate paradigm. Because the students expect to receive knowledge from their teachers, then they expect to receive everything from powers-that-be. They then accept governance from government, usually meaning they accept without questioning. Now even in teacher-led traditional classrooms teachers encouraged sensible questioning but does government? Government accepts questioning but it does not accept questioning that leads to change, they do not accept questioning of the corporate paradigm. And neither does the education system accept questioning of that paradigm, nor does it accept questions on testing. The education system, as government, accepts some questioning, and both direct that questioning away from the area that most needs change – the corporatocracy or the corporate paradigm.
And the teacher in most classroom methodologies contribute significantly to this by accepting the leadership model of teaching, the teacher imparts the knowledge and the student accepts that knowledge leading to its reproduction in tests. The measure of success in education is whether the student reproduces the same knowledge that has been imparted by the teacher. This acceptance process is integral to the process of the people accepting how they are governed – irrespective of whether the government is right or wrong. It is acceptance of a model of democracy that says that postholders are elected and then make decisions that must be accepted until the elections come again, at which point in theory they can make a better choice. Even though the choices are rarely better, there is only a marginal difference in most partisan democracies, it is a requirement of our neo-liberal pseudo democracies that we accept government leadership during the periods of office. Recently in the US and UK we have had abject bare-faced liars in power. Particularly with Blair and Obama these people came to power with promises they have never kept. Breaking of those promises ought to have been termination of their government but a well-educated electorate accepts that leaders have to lead and promises don’t have to be kept.
In the classroom teachers make a fundamental promise, and that is that they will educate. To educate now is a euphemism that the students will pass tests so effectively teachers encourage students to think they will pass tests – this is the basic promise that underlies the education system. If you follow what I teach, you will pass the tests, and if you don’t it is your fault that you fail. As discussed throughout the book this basic promise of passing the tests is a bare-faced lie, a lie that many teachers are not fully aware of. If the corporatocracy does not have failures who will do the work for them? By the end of their education most students are used to failing, and they are used to their leaders, the teachers, not delivering on promises. They are used to receiving from leaders and not being able to act for themselves – they are disempowered.
But what if we started a process of teaching whose purpose is to empower? Not to empower as indiviudals in a selfish aggressive manner akin to the corporatocracy now, but empower as individuals in a sharing and responsive democracy acting responsibly. What if we started a sharing democracy in the classrooms, a sharing of knowledge that includes the teacher. Once empowered in this way, when these students become adults, they would be able to share in organisational structures as at #OccupyWallSt rather than be recipients of exploitation. In the structures of the corporatocracy wage enslavement forces people to borrow money to live on Nature’s land, to borrow money for shelter in houses, pay taxes to fight wars for the profits of the MIC, follow policies that damage our ONE planet and eat food that damages health.
I have not begun to describe learning democratically but it does sound incredibly dangerous. Teach people not to follow their government? That sounds like anarchy, I don’t want that I am not Anonymous. But whilst I don’t want anarchy I don’t want the current order in which we are slaves growing up to give our money to the corporatocracy. Effectively this blog will investigate a meaningful way of learning democratically, but with our government puppets the way they are that would mean some defiance unless the government changes.
To me I don’t care about that now. Defiance is needed because the corporatocracy is taking us to war for profit and defiance is needed in support of our ONE planet. What we want is educating for democratic and acceptable defiance – a very difficult balance. And it starts with democracy in the classroom empowering the students moving away from leadership by the teacher, empowering students to share for the good of all. To be honest as yet I don’t know how but I must – it is part of Matriellez.