Confuse Meanings

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Teaching / Society / Social Order / DeGate / DeSchooling / School’s Purpose /

What the word “school” has come to mean in modern times is state-controlled “education.” State licensed, state monitored “education” confuses a number of distinct concepts: learning, training, knowledge maintenance, knowledge development …
This 2002 09 20 I do not bring the time or energy to make these distinctions the way I would like, but I can and am, marking a place to do it: and simultaneously promising to develop a particular ramification I find no peers in the acknowledgement of: namely, the confusion between the profession of “English,” my own trained profession, in its state-controlled manifestation: public school English; and the “ideal” discipline of English as I came to imagine it as a Ph.D. candidate: that is, the English encountered by some at certain institutions, from Columbia to Cambridge, and as imagined and practiced in the minds of some, from Ogden & Richards … to pk.
First I ask you to recognize in general the tendency of words to change meanings: naturally.
To “read” derives from the German root “reden” which once meant “to pick up”: the origin making sense once you realize that priests burned things in order to interpret marking made by the fire: on analogy with gypsies reading tea leaves. The priests burned the pig’s bones or the sticks, or whatever, and then looked for signs (or runes) in them: like finding camels in clouds. They picked the bones out of the fire, picking them up, (reden), to examine them.
“Thing” derives from old Icelandic for a political meeting.
Words naturally change, morph … Sometimes the change trances a gain in value for the thing considered, sometimes a loss. “Translate” meant to change ontological status: like the Virgin Mary going straight to Heaven, without having to die first. That’s an example of elevation. The opposite is denigration. Notice the root that word has in common with “Negro.” The idea of “black” hasn’t fared well: certainly not since the Manicheans and Christianity. Blackening means to make something bad.
Those things are parts of the natural language. They’re “inevitable”: like air on the planet earth and poison gases on the planet Venus. Don’t waste your time fretting about them. Now I asked you consider another category of word change: politically powered, state manipulated. The constitutional right to bear arms means … you don’t know what it means until a lawyer or a judge or a whole court process tells you what it means. And then some other court process can reverse that: or modify it: or turn it inside out. In essence, the right to bear arms has come in the United States under the United States government to mean that you can’t do it.
The constitutional guarantee of the right to free speech means that the government can’t censor you: unless it manufactures some excuse. The government can’t burn books: unless the books are by Wilhelm Reich.
“Your” “money” is “yours”: if the IRS lets you have any of it.
Education isn’t the only concept perverted by state control; but it is the concept that I concentrate on in this folder of this directory. Ivan Illich emphasized “learning” as what we do to survive and flourish in the circumstances in which we find ourselves. The child learns not to touch the hot stove: either by mama telling him; or by painful experience. The apprentice learns to set type by living with and working under the printers in a guild or by living and working with the carpenter, or tailor, or shoemaker. The scholar once learned law or literature by living among court procedures on the one hand or university dons on the other.
State “education” takes all these things and perverts them into a one-size-fits-all industrial process. The raw material is unique biological and social creatures. The product is something mass-produced and interchangeable: disposable, like tissues, artificial and disposable, like Kleenex.
Is this the level headed job I meant to do here? No, but it’s a start. And it does go in the right direction. What I must do before I improve it is capture my idea about the Profession of English before it flies away, never to be seen again: in my lifetime.

School’s Purpose

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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