Education 4

It is bad enough that I am responding to Pirsig without my getting on his bandwagon of Phaedrus popping at education but at the beach today I decided I would. He began his discussion on education by discussing accreditation, and for most westerners outside university, the US and outside the US system accreditation is not normally spoken of. However it is important to discuss the difference between the US system and elsewhere in the West. At school the issue of accreditation doesn’t arise because students learn for public exams, and using the results of these exams to gain university entrance. Whilst originally this process was transparent, over the last 30 years it has become less so – we maybe need to look at that but not yet. Accreditation at universities became an issue in the UK in the 80s, we should look at that as well – but not at the beginning. Whilst the US has SAT’s these are not equivalent to the exams because the school has internal exams and scores for these exams are combined with the SAT’s to secure university entrance. School accreditation is an issue in the US, but not in the West generally. In the US there must be some sort of moderation on these internal exams but internationally within the US system the system is remarkably flawed.

I worked in secondary schools, and the longer I was a teacher the more I worked with students just below university because I was more experienced and knew better how to get them through the exams. When I left teacher training college I was interested in self-realisation so how did I then become and exam crammer. I am guilty of “plagiarisation” throughout so when I call my level of education the Conformist Church of Exams you might see some similarity? This is better understood using this sentence:-

Before you go to the Church of Reason you need first to pass through the Conformist Church of Exams.

The students that Phaedrus worked with, and was critical of, had spent many years in the Conformist Church of Exams before they entered the more liberal Church of Reason. Let me be clear the purpose of my level of education was not to get kids to pass exams, its primary purpose was conformism. And this conformism I have referred to many times, most of the students in state education had to be trained to accept wage slavery. Society does the first job, it makes the students want money. The Church then tells them that the best way to make money is to pass exams, and once the students have accepted this most students then fail. At this stage they have been indoctrinated in the need for money, learnt that they are failures and are so ready to take uninspiring jobs - wage-slavery. This is not a new analysis, I learnt it when I went to teacher training college 40 years ago but it is truer now than it was then.

So what happens to those who are successes, those who will got to join Pirsig’s level? These are the more intelligent, and therefore more of a danger to the status quo – the system that the 1% have created. Their conformisation is much more intense. First and foremost they are taught fear. They are placed in cauldrons of classrooms where it is intended the teacher does not have control. I have already discussed the impact of removing the power of the teacher to use violence. This ends the short sharp shock. Don’t be fooled into thinking the right wing want to bring this back – they don’t, they already have it in their schools if it is needed. They are making political capital about the disruption to increase the likelihood of parents paying for private education because state schools are disrupted.

Kids with street smarts know before they start that there is no chance for them, they know they will fail. Some have already chosen to use their intelligence on the streets – in crime. Once they have decided that, the teacher has completely lost control. I remember a discussion with a bright student. His father gave him two dinner moneys, one for his food and one for the gangs; it worked he ate. How do bright kids perceive these kids? They are frightened. For some the street kids dumb down the “boffs” who are scared to try hard. The more affluent the school the less street kids but there are always plenty – enough to make the smart kids see exams are the best way for them. Pass the exams at all costs.

Once the intelligent kids are frightened enough, they do what is required to pass the exam. And the main requirement is conformity. When a child is young and free, they have questioning minds. By the time they are entering these Conformist Churches, they are beginning to question society – that is the intelligent response. Immediately they would want to question the teacher, and some teachers would want to respond to such questioning. But that questioning is not curriculum, it is not exams, and other bright children want to pass the exams. So if there were a sympathetic teacher the fear amongst the other boffs would be sufficient to maintain conformity. Soon such intelligent people learn that questioning is not the game, and they get the qualifications to enter the Church of Reason – and they have been taught the mindset that Pirsig was trying to fight.

So as a teacher why didn’t I go mad, why did I become an exam crammer? Bought off eh?

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