Education is a ruse.

Education is a lump that’s been created to take our minds from us,

to make us beholden to some funnily authorized caretakers of our minds, who will repair them and hand them back to us fixed

ready to fit the form that serves servitude

serves our service – us mass’ – to our Owners.

If you refer to ‘our Owners’, people will guarantee you that they own themselves.

But that can’t happen in this structure in which our work all congeals in one pyramid – towering toward enrichment of what’s now pictorially been dubbed the 1%, illuminating for us all what only we communists socialists used to know. Our work – city and county worker, state – government worker, independent dry-wall-er, small and large grocer, great and small farmer, oil driller, soldier – esPEcially soldier, doctor – all work culminates in our Rich’s enrichment.

The pleasures of study have from the time we had books in school we couldn’t finish because of sharply delimited study assignments, courses whose syllabuses went unfinished at the end of the term, waiting for us someday to have time to complete the tempting, uncompleted ideas…the course enticing us to sink into them, only to force us gasping up out of them to get the grade in them and rush to the next required, slighted study – the pleasures are denied.

None of these beLONgs to us. All are to be skated over… around… on… through… as we ‘get educated ‘, able to receive a diploma or a degree or some pronouncement of what turns out to be our having reached a required next level, or employability at a certain level, rather than our having been able to enjoy engagement with our own mind and with our communities, with people who are similarly hoisted into towering thrills of ideas and data that enhance those ideas and poetry of prose and verse that go along with the ideas – and with the romances, the lovings that stir along with the thrills of thinking

Cut short

because now(then) we’re ready to be sacrificed to the god of job. We bow before the ‘8 hour day’, grateful that it’s not 18, as we’re told over and over. As though these roles fit us, fit humans.

Education is a ruse. Don’t believe it. Think whole lives. Think ‘no one is born genius’. …making us all geniuses ….given half a chance to be.

Disbelieve recess – 10 minutes to run around, then get back to the desk to conform to get a passing grade and rush to the next grade and the next – and get thrust out into the world – picture that canon, us blown out of it – misshapen from the blow and the lack of foundation – scrabbling for purchase – to get along at the job.

When I was going through ‘becoming’ a teacher I had to sit in a 4th …or 6th … grade classroom to observe. I was so miserable. I knew I would be. We have those nightmares of being back in school – and here it was, live. So I was fitted (not well) into that position. I now had a job – of sorts.

How many people ‘trained’ to be school teachers leave the job early on. And what are the compromises made by the people who last 30 years ….? Fighting the system to try to practice valid methods, or achieving success teaching Kindergartners or 3rd graders…only to watch it unwind as the child plows through successive grades. Many people do reach accommodation with the system – but at what cost… Those nightmares last pretty much a lifetime – of being back in school and having to deal with it again.

Somehow we ‘all’ do fit into finishing school one way or another, getting a job – (talking about what the norm used to be) – having some accommodation with their life to where people gather a family, do community activities – usually the kinds that sustain this brutal system

Except for the people that don’t – the people that with consciousness of their situation or just at a loss about themselves move on to live outside the common parameters, even to be lucky enough to encounter a Marxist, or revolutionary community and come to the immense relief and comfort that is.

We’ve well learned lately that there is no such thing as ‘our’ job. The jobs belong to our Owners. They giveth and they taketh them away – as they choose – as they are made to create THeir profit and power. Even that hallowed job teaching is terribly tenuous.

Employment is tenuous, depending on our submission – to the bosses, to the co-workers not troubling us regardless how bullying they act, and to the overall system, which we, by our work, maintain and further. Employment is tenuous depending on its service to our Owners’ enrichment. They didn’t like the comparative independence – which it hardly was – of schooleducation, so they took it away and substituted all these deformities called better – charter, government supported religious, specialty – science, arts, all the special words to tell us now we have to believe we’re being treated better by a ‘public service’, all the while we, our communities know we’re not.

I had planned to conduct classrooms by:

I would create a stimulating environment. Students would thereby direct the course of study. The teachers’ workbooks with little spaces for lesson plans, I long after realized, were to put pages from the text book to be assigned, and names of tests to be done.

I had one particularly splendid opportunity. This describes both me and the opposite – the way to do a classroom that is totally unacceptable.

This was a six week English summer-school make-up class. The children were around 9th, 10th grade age, 14, 16.

I told them that in order to pass the class they’d have to have a library card. The varying responses were ‘Of course! I have one’; groan – oh; and hopeless at being able to get one. Different statuses of material security – some had cards; some were unable to get one, likely for disappearance of a borrowed book. Some were stretched to go get one wherever the library was.

I never got the chance to check on this as a determinant. I was told all were to pass the class. That was ok with me; I certainly didn’t much care about the grading – except as I was required to do it.

I told them they’d all have to get a book or something to read, to bring it to class, to read a bit from it out loud each time we met, to read a bit from it at home to someone, to write a bit because of what they’d read, to read what they’d written to someone at home, to read that writing aloud in class, and to turn in the writing; that I’d review it for the writing and hand it back to them for their review. I thought it’d be nice if they’d rewrite any errors – but that was only a fond thought. I can’t remember that it ever happened.

I promised them that all this would be conducted in English, the title of this class.

I had been forced to take ‘English’ books (ratty things – not that I like new textbooks) from the storeroom into the class. I also still had a store of good reading material I’d collected during years of trying to teach. I brought those for them to select, if they wanted.

Some asked me what I’d do if they brought in the wrong reading material. Such as what, I asked. They named comic book, this in the days when comics were just becoming prized interactions, communications, literature, giggled meaning porn. I said I’d see; that if some material was not acceptable I’d say get something else.

So we read and listened and talked and I enjoyed the class immensely!!!

I took them by public transit to the wharf (Fisherman’s) for the boat tour – to statements that they’d never done this, been these places.

People on the public transit commented to us how much they enjoyed the children’s behavior.

I cry as I write this – knowing how wonderful we all are given half a chance to be, how much they enjoyed their wonderfulness – not out loud – no spell breaking… no praise by themselves for their usualness.

(I was once taught how necessary praise is. The demonstration mocked it: in the kindergarten classroom – ‘Good sitting!, Johnnie’! damn!)

I brought in a poet; and a dancer;

How respectful I was of these children.

We only spoke English – I mean, I was supposed to be teaching English – the conventional English class – not the ESL – all the children had English as their first language.

I took them to the MOMA San Francisco Museum of Art for the docent tour of their landscape artist exhibit. Lawrence Halprin. Along with it was a pamphlet of assignments: go out and talk with people on the sites the exhibit had models of. Ask questions listed in the pamphlet.

Couldn’t get them to do that.

And what was the temporary principal’s evaluation!! Guess ! Yeah – that I took them out too much! I stopped listening after that, as she continued. In cases like that, the underling in charge, I don’t blame them as much as probably I should – putting a negatively critical evaluation on me; must be that’s how she interpreted her place. …must’ve had that done at her plenty of times – or not, and just seen it done to others – thought it was de rigeuer…

So, another failure –

One time I walked 3rd graders over to the MOMA to see David Hockney paints the stage; again, a docent tour with pages of preparation, including the description of The Rake’s Progress. The children giggled that uncomfortable giggle as I described the bad gambling and sex activities and drinking – just mentioned – no details – Actually, they didn’t need me to elaborate, did they, living in the midst of that, as they were.

I had the chance to show them that this kind of adult talk is just respectable in the sense that it’s just saying what’s going on – didn’t need to be upsetting in any way to talk this way.

Walking over, some children ran-flew down the sidewalk – I held back saying don’t run out into the street, or be careful, or don’t do that, or the worst one, you’ll hurt yourself, or even don’t hurt yourself. They didn’t run into the street – or hurt themselves….

They had to bring drawing equipment, each one.

At the museum we were walked through and told… – what GREAT large dioramas of the stage settings! Hockney! yay! The museum YAY! Then I told them they had to find a choice to draw – we did this all the time. Everyone can draw, I insist – and demonstrated, drawing on the schoolroom blackboard – never having been skilled at drawing – but becoming able to as I told the children to – look – here’s a head …here’re eyes … a nose … and then they’d begun to look around to see of whom I was drawing…WHAT A BLAST! We’d go out of the building for walks – and they had to pick a view and draw it – and get the drawing posted in the room, again and again – not the best one – all of them.

I didn’t know how this would take place. Soon I looked around – in the several rooms – and children were sitting on the floors, or lying on their bellies drawing – looking at the displays and drawing from them….

Again I cry.

These just don’t happen – these ‘adult’ ventures, these respectful ventures, these ventures to make the children respect themselves…. just real living.

These are not my ultimate objective. These are what I had to do as I did my child-care for the day. These children, members of the reserve army of the unemployed, needed school to supervise them as their slave-parents, their disrespected parents, went off to work – or didn’t, depending, of course…

Education is what goes on as we live; it’s an exchange between us who have content, and us having more content. Learning the communication skills – reading and writing – those happen in a moment, in the real environment. Calculation happens in no time – I mean like long division, and then fractions. We just have to know that a child doesn’t know something and say, this is how. We do that all the time outside of school. We do that with adults. And just as often, the situation explains it to them – they barely even ask how.

So much of education is people who know how to accomplish a task painting a picture or a wall say, let’s do this, because we love to do it. There is no need to compel people to sit in a classroom at a desk in order to teach something. There is need to do living and to share skill, idea, information, desire, passion – which arises with doing.

There is the need to be able to read the book as far through it as the reader wants to – not to have to stop to hurry on to meet the next assignment-requirement.

There is the need to work as long as is necessary to get a job done, not to fill a required 8hour day whether or not there’s reasonable work to do – as my supremely talented daughter constantly finds herself having to do – sit and look busy long after the task is completed. My husband wangled this way and that not to have to be stuck in boring, unnecessarily repetitive work. School teaching was for me something like that kind of a choice. It just turned out to be so state controlled that the roomy timing didn’t compensate for having to run over students opposite the way they should be treated.

normaha@pacbell.net

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