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Stephen Gets His Wish… In California, Anyway ;)

Stephen shared this video today on OLDaily. It’s a sad spoof of the impending collapse of the public school system in California.

Hot for Teachers w/ Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green from Megan Fox

I reblogged this video with the title “Stephen Gets His Wish” (with mostly humorous intent) based on his recent post, We Learn. In the post, Stephen describes the manner in which educational institutions are severely damaging children’s learning:

The reason we have so many students who are utterly unable to learn for themselves is precisely *because* of corporations and institutions…. They [the institutions] are not providing help. They are actively hindering it. It is in their interests to keep students dependent and unable to learn for themselves. They actively act against attempts to provide this support. [Institutions] have expended a great deal of effort to ensure that… students remain passive and disempowered.

If these terrible claims against institutions are true, the complete collapse of a state’s public school system would be an utter boon for the education of the children of that state. So we should be happy about what’s happening in CA, right?

If, on the other hand, you feel any impulse to fight to save these institutions, that impulse must derive from a belief that formal educational institutions [aka schools] are actually helping children learn.

Cue discussion… =)

4 replies on “Stephen Gets His Wish… In California, Anyway ;)”

Hi David – I have some difficulty in reconciling your previous assertions about the demise of higher education and some of your recent posts on the topic :). Higher education and public K-12 education can’t share that different a fate, can they?

What is it that university does for society? What do we lose if they no longer exist? I’ve argued previously that those who are most seeking to see education change are those that may find they have lost the most. Society needs higher education institutions (though not in their current form). Higher ed plays a key balancing role in society. It seeks to create equality in the spaces that other power institutions leave inequality.

Humanities should be the heart of public education. But, as Ellul argued, the technification of society is all-encompassing. What can’t be reduced to logic and control is not valued. Higher education is a counter-voice to this trend (well, it could be argued that the church is too). In this sense, higher ed’s greatest role in society is a social role, a role of developing some capacity in individuals to hope, to create, to grow, to advance knowledge, to participate in the “vital combat for lucidity”, and to enable people to participate in society. In a sense, higher ed serves to develop the morality of individuals by introducing learners to “big ideas”, big thinkers, and the history of humanities goodness and cruelty. If these goals are achieved, the inequalities thrown up by other systems can (theoretically) be addressed.

If you agree that higher education’s greatest role in society is somewhat similar to what I listed, the real question is: can a decentralized, distributed system serve the function in society that the current university strives to serve? Does humanity – the whole of humanity, not just a fringe few – need institutions (church, higher ed) to be moral and ethical? Humanity seeks knowledge almost out of instinct. History would suggest morality – care and concern for the weakest of society – is not as automatic.

I don’t think anyone wanted a sudden collapse, but a gradual, supported, incrementally developed replacement. So, given that mass protest doesn’t work in the US, what now?

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