School & Schooling

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Teaching / Society / NoHier / Kleptocracy /
@ K. early 2000s

pk on On School

Baby oysters are ready to start filter-feeding the moment they’re born. A lion kitten won’t be ready for independence for quite a bit longer. To the degree that lions are social creatures, the independence will never be total: a lone lion is a sorry critter, the more so if it’s female: the females are “twice” as social as the males. Even social vegetarians : elephants, for example : have years of development to undergo, to endure, before they become a mature member of elephant society.

Cooperating in groups is an old business. Bees and ants were at it long before there was such a human critter as an “Abel” or a “Cain.” Bees have a kind of a “nursery”: as do wolves, as do human-beans. “School” relates to ways in which man, the social creature, has corralled the young for periods of orientation, instruction, drill … throughout the age of the species. I don’t doubt that Cro-Magnon man sorted those who had undergone puberty from those who hadn’t for certain occasions. Neither do I doubt that “boys” were separated from “girls” for even more occasions. I concede all of that: and yet insist:
What school has come to mean by current times is unprecedented both in biology and in human history. Not only is school artificial, school is harmful: a pathology: a ruinously expensive pathology. Such schools are incompatible with quality knowledge. Such schools are incompatible with quality society. Such schools are intolerable for a spectrum of reasons.

Not only is school ruinously costly to nearly all societies; school is harmful to learning. Anyone succeeding in the world at large must unlearn staggering proportions of his “education.”

2008 05 04 The phrase “harmful to learning” I just changed from “harmful to education.” Shame on me. Many a person won’t follow the distinction even when it’s Ivan Illich or pk doing the explaining; but I’m one of the first to see Illich’s point, and I remain THE one to insist on repeating it no matter the cost to me! (Poverty, jail, censorship, banishment …) Learning is a natural process, inseparable from survival; education is a factitious artifact of industrial kleptocracy. Education has half-bankrupted the world, lowered intelligence, narrowed skill, and will kill us all before it’s done.

What’s taught in schools is more akin on the one hand to propaganda, to brainwashing, than it is to knowledge. On the other hand, it’s more akin to sheep herding, preparation for the abattoir, than practice for democracy.

Were we interested in liberty alone, coercive schooling would be an abomination.
Were we interested in education alone, mass-produced schooling would be an abomination.

I could, and still may, expand on the above points, but in this initial draft choose to proceed to this point: compulsory and universal schooling was not successfully resisted by those citizens of the nineteenth-century United States who allowed a half-assed Jeffersonian democracy to be transformed into an industrial fodder-feeder. The industrial captains and their lieutenants yanked the cloth from under the silver right while we were all sitting at table. Not bad as a magic trick (and just great for profits), but very bad for the health of the society. That’s done: Indelible. What I see as worse:
The public failed to take the opportunity given it in 1970 to slough off kleptocratic prescriptions: possibly to reverse the damage.

By 1970 Ivan Illich had combined the socially sane intentions of certain cyberneticists to, in van Foerster’s words, “map the community,” with the school criticisms of thinkers from Paul Goodman and John Holt to Everett Reimer and Illich himself.

A library which maintained data on learning resources (including consumer feedback about those resources) and was cybernetically available to the public through myriad public terminals would be all the education institution a free (and convivial) people would want.

Realize: that was well before the PC!

By 1971 I had multiply corresponded with Illich and was advertising that I would be the librarian.
I founded the Free Learning Exchange, Inc.

And here’s the kicker:
The public, didn’t support it: failed to fund its own liberation: its own entryway to the networking of free information.

I thought I could make a good start for maybe $100,000. IBM’S Directory of University Relations told me that $20,000,000 a year would be more like it for New York City alone. Even were he a hundred times more right than I (and I don’t doubt that he would be, I not knowing anything about budgets at that time), that’s still a pittance compared to New York City’s public school budget: to say nothing of New York City’s total education budget: day care through post-docs. (Include non-coerced education to get the proper figure that should be compared: FLEX would have served all learning needs: with pure, unadulterated information!)
FLEX literature was handed out on the streets of New York. Local, city wide, and national newspapers gave some publicity. News and interviews soon spread to radio and cable TV. Human resources began registering their availability. Would-be learners were writing and calling: to be put in touch with other learners or with “teachers” : their choice.

As the one actually trying to do it (as other learning networks in other cities, world-wide also opened for business (the Learning Exchange in Evanston having had Illich ties far longer than I), I envisaged a universal network: one whose scope would include Tierra del Fuego and the Aleutian Islands; but whose administration would remain decentralized: grass roots. I’ll do NYC. Denis is doing Evanston. Once we hear from pks or Denises in Lima, in Seville, in Peking … I’ll hope to lead us in how we can interconnect. I saw my job, first, as being to actually start it, and second, to make sure, the best humanly possible (by this individual) to make sure that the institution, ideally publicly run as well as publicly financed, remained pure. That is: no compulsion, no coercion may intrude: at the institutional level. That is, a teacher may compel students to, for example, read a particular book: just as a parent may; but there must be no social compulsion that any student must be a student of that coercive teacher. If you’re coerced: it’s voluntary. Either you entered the contract or your parents put you there and engaged in a contract on your behalf. Compulsion cannot be banished from human behavior so long as some humans are not yet adults. But compulsion should be tolerated only within the family; never by a state or a church. [note]

Budget Ignorance
2016 11 28 At IBM the Director of University Relations, 1971 or so, asked me how I came up with my budget of $100,000 (he said it sounded to him like I needed $20,000,000 a year): I’d specified so much for rent, so much for salaries, so much for supplies, utilities … I’m very fond of the answer I improvised, I make sure the story gets told here and now:
I said, I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t doubt that I’ll make mistakes. Money and time will be wasted: because of my and the world’s inexperience. If I had $20,000,000 a year now a lot of it would be wasted. Give me $100,000 how and I’ll know better how to spend $20,000,000 by next year.

Somebody should have interrupted both of us and said, Look, the guy is trying to remodel the whole of society. The guy is offering to build an internet, for Christ sake. Give him $100,000 today and $200,000 tomorrow and $20,000,000,000 next year.

And stick your computers up your ass, IBM: the guy’s trying to minimize their impact on us, not deliver us entirely into the hands of the machines.

If only.

I’ll be back. I still haven’t addressed the things that are the real target of this piece: schools, including universities, as a kleptocracy’s way of assuring that certain ideas don’t get discussed, that, like a church, schools have their own taboos, their own heresies: all unacknowledged by the (largely unconscious) participating censors.

I mention Abelard below. Abelard couldn’t get a fair hearing in his own 11th century: he hasn’t gotten one since. I can personally testify that his subject matter is still censored because Abelard’s nominalism is a key part of my doctoral thesis that my university used a series of tricks to subvert: to prevent the clear presentation of. The Inquisition lives: but has gone secular!

There are now so many files on schools and schooling here at that a casual visitor may not be able to see how many trees there are or how many forests. Hitherto those files were concentrated in either of two directories: my FIX / FLEX directory (now Deschooling or the school experience section of my biographical narratives. Subsequently a third folder has further complicated things: additional school stories, stories that hadn’t come in my original gush. Now I initiate this file and put it in my NoHier / Kleptocracy section as an overview from my current perspective. The FLEX directory is only just being moved to my new server. Next up there, perhaps even before the menu is renovated, will come my History of Schools, Universities.
mixed, moved, all sabotage

Compulsion by Family vs. Compulsion by State:
The right to coerce may be sub-contracted by a family member to someone outside the family. Eloise’s father gave Abelard full-parental authority to be strict with her. Papa may not have liked the result once he learned that the priest was screwing Papa’s teenager twelve ways from Sunday, but he had asked for it. And Eloise certainly seemed to like it.

M. Night Shyamalan’s Hindu parents sent their son to a Roman Catholic school: not so that he would be Catholic; but so that he would experience strictness. And look at the result: he makes interesting films and makes them well: films in which some off-beat themes gain original treatment.

2016 02 11 Most of my school comments since 1995 are in my deschooling section or among my school stories. This, from Society / … Kleptocracy is an exception.
My Shyamalan comment is way out of date: his first film was great, his first several films were interesting, but I no longer twitch a brow hair when I hear of a new one: dreck and more dreck.



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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