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Corporate Diminishment of Education
by Leah Sellers
2008-02-08 09:40:54
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Giving the youth of America an education with a corporate mentality is an accident waiting to happen. The process of educating young minds to think should have less to do with the bottom dollar and corporate driven national tests and educational systems, and more with giving students the tools and knowledge from a vast array of bright, devoted and creative minds, in order to better deal with and shape the world as a whole.

The relationship a child develops with a knowledgeable, inventive and caring teacher is far more important than their being able to effectively regurgitate information on some multi-million dollar corporation's 'national or state test'. In this situation who is giving what to whom, and what for?

Education is not just about teaching students to get a job. It is about guiding them to become enlightened citizens for the future. Citizens who care about and knowledgably understand their neighbors, their government, and the world at large. Citizens who aspire toward noble ideals and standards within their conduct and the conduct of others. Citizens, who through hard work, perseverance and due diligence strive toward their dreams while enriching and considering the dreams of others.

Such Citizens are created through loving and disciplined parents, loving and disciplined teachers, loving and disciplined mentors, loving and disciplined bosses, loving and disciplined social structures, loving and disciplined relationships. Relationships in which everyone recognizes that each child and young adult develops differently and at different times. Social structures that common sense acknowledges as a fact of nature and circumstance and create environments which harness such potentialities. As humans, we are organic, sentient beings, not coldly metallic cogs for corporate machinery.

Citizens who realize that difference and being different is a scientific rule of nature and is important. It is important that no teacher is alike; that no teacher teaches the same materials alike. Difference creates variety and vitality and variety and vitality create questioning innovation and stimulated thought processes. Multi-million dollar corporate testing diminishes the student/teacher relationship. Taking the power of teachers out of the classrooms and giving it to distant, governmentally rule laden bureaucrats diminishes the student/teacher relationship.

School systems operating on corporate precepts and concepts that see parents and students as consumers and not as cooperative participants and learners ultimately diminish the functionality and fundamentals of education as a whole. These present seemingly innocuous truths diminish our collective future. Like Socrates, take any one person under a tree with a book in the hands of an inspired, knowledgeable and caring teacher and the pathways to new worlds and ways of thinking and experiencing life will emerge, blossom and bear fruit within the present and the future. Teaching is an inspired and inspiring vocation; not an occupation; not a tool for the gradual diminishment of our culture.

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Emanuel Paparella2008-02-08 14:46:32
The problematic of the true purpose of education is quite apparent some 2400 ago in ancient Greece. On one side you had Socrates teaching the young how to think well, convinced that nobody could teach wisdom to anybody and the most he could do was to function as a mid-wife in respect to truth. On the other side you had the Sophists who unlike Socrates “knew that they knew” and who taught the young the art of persuasion and how to win debates and charged hefty fees for their teaching. They were teaching the young that truth is instrumental and relative. In other words, they had turned education into a business of sort and a tool for the making of money and the grabbing of power, never mind the will to power. Enter Francis Bacon with his slogan “knowledge is power” and Nietzsche with his “will to power,” and we know the rest… It appears that things have not changed that much since the ancient Greeks and that those who are ignorant of their history are condemned to repeat it.

Bob Nelson2008-02-08 23:41:13
The last sentence says a lot. Several factors led to the present situation including (1) public financing of education, (2) the lack of educational competition/choice (i.e., school districts), (3) the lack of mobility of teachers (tenure AKA golden handcuffs), and (4) teachers unions (to obtain a reasonable salary while dealing with 1, 2, and 3). Concerning (4), from my observations of the time when my wife was teaching the administration (keep the kids QUIET – i.e., kids are not allowed to be kids) and the unions (work rules) were the biggest problems, although the union was easier to ignore as long as they got their dues and there were no contract negations going on. My wife is currently giving private piano lessons (a change from teaching math and science) and dose not hesitate to tell the parents of her students parents that they are wasting her time, their money, and the kids patience.

A separate problem is that we tend to treat educational institutions (at all levels) as trade schools (now that you got your degree when are you going to get a job, the complaints about “professional students,” and “it is not cost-effective to get an advanced degree”). Being a professional student is not a bad lifestyle (if your material needs are comparable to a monk) but it does not pay well.

Eva2008-02-09 01:31:46
I'm just glad I'm not a teacher, because I don't know what I would like to teach anybody today.

Sand2008-02-09 09:47:40
I find it most peculiar that learning theoretical disciplines, learning practical things, learning cultural foundations are held to be mutually exclusive. Of course there is limited time that can be applied to each but they are all important and earning a living after education is certainly nothing to be sneered at as it is the foundation of the individual existence and the existence of the nation economically and culturally. I doubt the sufficient money and thought and effort has been devoted to using the resources of the nation to properly equipping children for their future, as uncertain as that might be, and probably not much to giving them the tools to learn continuously throughout their lives through their own initiatives rather than under external disciplines. Certainly solutions to these problems are not simple or cheap but children are the future of the nation more valuable than any other resources and deserve better than they are getting.

Sand2008-02-09 10:36:23
A bit more on monetary allocation. The military budget is immensely bloated to support the technology for defense which, of course is a necessary government function, but the best defense of any nation is the capability of its citizens and much more consideration should be devoted to considered as to the proper balance of funds so that useless projects to subsidize the munitions manufacturers such as the idiotic non-functional and highly expensive antimissile hardware could be dispensed with in favor of properly mentally equipped citizens.

Jack2008-02-10 00:23:21
I agree with the writer's comment that one teacher imbued with a special vision of making the difference, one child at a time, makes all the difference. All the library books in the world does not equate a student's thirst for knowledge's. At best, teacher's can only hope to facilitate, and reach down to the child's internal locus of control to make it focused on learning...and that it's in their best interest. The cost's of ignorance far exceed those of an education. It used to be estimated that one dollar spent in education saved society 3 dollars in the long run, while the converse is true as well.

Good teacher's fertilize what curiosity a student has by providing positive comments and feedback. A child convinced in their own mind that they can learn and thus, do anything they want...is harder to discourage in the rutted road with forks that lies ahead of them. To believe in someone else is respect, to believe in one's own self, is self-respect. So great in need, yet hard to encounter. Nice points in the article.

Jack2008-02-10 00:25:48
I wholeheartedly agree with Sand's comment that "children are the future of the nation more valuable than any other resources and deserve better than they are getting."

Your priority is exactly where it ought to be.

Jared2008-04-14 18:49:14
Working in education, and trying to inspire children at level on a daily basis I derive great inspiration from writings and comments such as these. We are heading into impossibly complicated times, and if we do not prepare our children now to function outside of the box in concert with those around them the road ahead is perilous and frought with pitfalls from which there is no return. Thank you for keeping the faith...

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