“What if I told you that the hidden agenda of those controlling public education policy has actually been… to snuff out young people’s natural creativity, curiosity, independence, freedom of thinking and love of learning?”
For a long time now, we’ve been told by our leaders and the media that our nation’s education problems are caused by bad teachers, low expectations, lazy students and/or unclear national standards. They tell us that by setting higher standards, making school more rigorous, testing students frequently and then firing “bad” teachers we will be able to “fix” our schools.
To put it bluntly, this is nothing but a Big Lie. What if I told you that the hidden agenda of those controlling public education policy has actually been to crush innovation, make children more obedient, force teachers to “dull & dumb down” their instruction, and do whatever else is needed in order to snuff out young people’s natural creativity, curiosity, independence, freedom of thinking and love of learning?
How could this be so? It is so, because the real power behind education policy has never been educators, or parents, or even government officials. The real power since the beginning of the last century has been large corporations and wealthy individuals, who want schools to help them train our children to obey authority, do what they are told, seek pleasure from material consumption and accept their rank in the economic food chain.
This is so because those in power want subservience and conformity, not creativity and freedom of thought. They seek obedient workers and pleasure seeking consumers that lack critical thinking skills, believe what they are told and do not question authority. These are the people that profit from our ignorance, and would lose control if we and our children got smarter, better organized and less dependent. As comedian George Carlin, put it, “You’ve got owners.”
Not that countless teachers haven’t done their best to fight against soul numbing policies, to be creative and inspirational, to motivate students to enjoy learning. During the early 1990s there was a great surge of research and innovation in American education, with new understandings about the human brain and progressive learner-centered approaches flourishing in public schools across the United States. These were described by journalist Peter Jennings in an ABC News Special from 1993, called Common Miracles: The New American Revolution in Learning.
Unfortunately the “learner-centered revolution” was quickly put down and forgotten in the U.S., though it still thrives in expensive private schools, Montessori schools and nations like Finland. Since the Bush administration put their No Child Left Behind policies into place, trying to enjoy learning and be creative in school (for most teachers and students) has been like trying to stop powerful tidal waves from destroying sand castles on the beach.
Here below is an excerpt from a Wall Street Journal article, written in 2008. It’s fairly clear from reading this that since then, with the Obama administration’s Race to the Top and Common Core, the situation has actually gotten worse, not better:
“In “I Hate School: Why American Kids Are Turned Off Learning” sociologists Ben Agger and Beth Anne Shelton contend that “by the time American students are in junior high and high school, they hate school and cannot wait to finish an acceptable terminal level of education and establish careers and families, mimicking the suburban lifestyles of their parents.”
Agger and Shelton say an increasing anti-intellectual bent among young people can’t be laid solely at the doorstep of television and popular culture. “Our schools are failing because they are warehouses and work houses,” Ms. Shelton says in the release. “They verge on penal colonies, where teachers are wardens and children are inmates. Children constitute a pre-labor force, tasked with producing homework instead of goods and services.”
The sociologists posit that in an ideal school, “grading and testing would be minimized and teachers would not be cops or dictators. Schools would have fewer desks and more open space. … Homework would be minimized, as real teaching and dialogue fill the day. Formulaic writing would be replaced by essaying, journaling and thought pieces. Standardized tests would be replaced with portfolios of best work and art.”
So, what can we do about this? For starters, it would help to have a sense of how the Big Lie of education is a part of the larger agenda of corporations and the wealthy attempting to crush American independence, entrepreneurialism and democracy. We are living in what historian Steve Fraser called “The New Guilded Age,” a time very similar to that of the robber barons and wealthy industrialists at the end of the 1800’s.
Our problems were not created by Pearson, Bill Gates、Andrew Cuomo or Arne Duncan. They’re just the newest gang of bullies on the block. The attempts by those in power to dumb down education and control our children has been going on for a long long time.
To really change things we need to educate ourselves and our children about what has been going on, take our power back, wake each other up and challenge the con artists that have profited from our obedience, conformity and ignorance.
Collaborating with others, parents and students have the power to take control over their learning once again. We can encourage young people to be more autonomous and self-directed, to think deeply, critically and creatively. Help them to connect the dots and grasp the Bigger Picture, understanding why certain adults in positions of power are trying to manipulate and control them, for only that understanding will set them free…
“The Matrix is everywhere… It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.” ~Morpheus, The Matrix
“At first, the primary target [of wealthy elites at the beginning of the last century] was the tradition of independent livelihoods in America. Unless Yankee entrepreneurialism could be put to death, at least among the common population, the immense capital investments (that) mass production industry required for equipment, weren’t justifiable. Students were to learn to think of themselves as employees competing with one another for the favor of management, not as Franklin or Edison had once regarded themselves — as self-determined free agents.” ~John Taylor Gatto, The Underground History of American Education
“I never blame teachers or schools… But there is this deadly culture of standardizing, that’s being pushed on them, politically. My core message here is that we have to personalize education, not standardize it. That all children are different, and we have to find their talents and cultivate them.” ~Ken Robinson
“In recent years, there’s a strong tendency to require assessment of children and teachers so that you have to teach to tests. And the test determines what happens to the child and what happens to the teacher. That’s guaranteed to destroy any meaningful educational process. It means the teacher cannot be creative, imaginative, pay attention to individual students’ needs..” ~Noam Chomsky
“Asking kids to meet target on standardized tests is like making them meet a sales quota. Our kids are not commodities.” ~K.L. Nielson
* Noam Chomsky on the Dangers of Standardized Testing * Schools That Learn – Peter Senge * Let a Child’s Spirit Be Free to Unfold – M. Montessori * How Schools Kill Creativity – Ken Robinson * Self-Direction is the Key to Mastery * Flow- The Psychology of Optimal Experience * Understanding How Our Brains Learn * Standardizing Education – Common Core’s Hidden Agenda * Toward a More Creative & Holistic Model of Education * Flaws at the Heart of Current Education Reforms * Real Learning is a Creative Process * Children Need to Be Free to Learn * It’s a Pink Floyd World – Welcome (Back) to the Machine * Educational Malpractice – The Child Manufacturing Process * 5 Myths about Standardized Testing & the Opt Out Movement *