[re Paul Goodman] (Refuse to grow up into) the abhorrent morally neutral pragmatism of those running the establishment, ……characterized as the top-down, bureaucratized, hierarchical, centralized organization of the state and state-nourished institutions; or into the acquiescent acceptance of powerlessness of those who resign themselves to work within that establishment.
Let us talk about how to stop punishing ourselves trying to work the present system. Life, we can decide has to oppose churchly teachings, is meant to be enjoyed, now, here, while we’re on Earth, in gentle care of Earth, not when we’re dead. Let’s try to work… work from that – that we’re all FINE, from the moment we come out of our mothers. We don’t need improvement. We just want to get together to do what’s necessary and what’s enjoyable. We all want to know stuff … to learn stuff …. to do stuff; it’s what we are! human. All of these have been commodified into service for the profiteers, alienating us from the comforts of good work in pleasant surroundings among our friends, families, neighbors. School is the opposite. It’s the early, initial mechanism to create our alienation. Alienation is us not doing worthy, humane things.
Everybody hates school. Sometimes it takes a decade or two during and after subjection to the “free, compulsory”, as I heard one fighter for justice on Pacifica, the liberation radio network refer to school, schooling, before people can realize they do, did suffer school.
School can’t be ‘reformed’. First of all, it works just fine as seen from the top, from our Owners’ advantage. We serve the capitalist system as necessary. We are the unemployed, or the lowly employed, or the criminals keeping the jails and prisons in business. As well, we are the teachers and doctors and pipe layers and other maintenance workers, keeping the cities and nations going, serving those Owners, the ruling class. There needs to be `embedded’ into our city structure – my campaign for the Berkeley school board, a forum for examining ways out of this oppressive construct, beginning of course, with addressing State and Federal laws that lay basic rules for our confinement. Then we can proceed to discern that in fact, inclusion of us all through our interests, experimenting, love, ability, need, all these reasonable motives,… how we can motivate and educate – educe, not indoctrinate, as in fill the empty vessel process – how we can just do what we need and like. Competition, profit, competition for profit … these are undesirable and unnecessary. Just taking care of ourselves, of us all, and amplifying our lives in the literally innumerable ways possible can give us the substance we all want, that school militates against.
Educe – to bring forth from, such as ideas.
Offering a forum to examine the limitations to working for substantive change and possible ways to work to remove those limitations…
…and to discern why we want major change,
…not continuing to allow painful preparation – all lifelong – or, at all – to be acceptable.
School is the foundation to our system as it stands – which is why we want to talk about how else to learn – to teach, to study. There must be ways for this behavior to be enjoyable, so that we don’t find ourselves, 30, 40 years later having a nightmare of being back in school, having to do school again…you know that dream – like the one of being undressed in public for some surprising reason….
I often start off discussion with folks about school saying, ‘everybody hates school – students, teachers, communities, administrators…’ Many people are taken aback momentarily – we’re so accustomed to having to get through school for better or worse, in order to get on with our lives. …and to not SAYing our anguish about school. …especially not admitting it where our children can hear.
Varying responses follow, from immediate guffaws and agreement, to ‘I loved school’, to affirmed disagreement with my whole idea about the oppression we live under.
I know that many people have had excellent experiences in school. It’s difficult for people to catch themselves up and reflect honestly, finding much agreement, even by the most advantaged people, that school is one or another level of a horrendous experience, mainly needing tolerance in order to get it over with, to get on with ‘living’.
Does this make you think of your – or most people’s – jobs? Most fitting if it does. There’s a certain parochial aspect to us thinking it’s alright to be so uncomfortable throughout life.
Another sad realization is that this also makes us think of prison. Just to acknowledge: Prison should be an isolation reserved for people who are functionally unable to participate in society, people who have been horrified and-or denied fulfilling living to the point where we need them to be physically contained, constrained, possibly able to be rehabilitated, but treated kindly, nevertheless, in recognition of our humanity – the potential for decency by all people; the need for us all for loving care. As you know, this is not how incarceration works. For one thing, the wardens have to set themselves up as unapproachable lest tapping their humanity create an other than punitive atmosphere and environment.
School does feel a bit like what we think – or know – prison feels like.
Education has become a commodity. Supposedly if you buy enough of it, of the right kind, are in the right place to use it, you’ll get along ok.
Helping to confuse what education is is the way it’s administered; that is, the way it’s put into people.
Content is divided – geography from history from science from art from language.
But then, in order to make chewable bites, the pieces have to be owned by many sectors, absolutely disallowing integrating knowledge as a composite of one’s life.
Separating knowledge by subject matter, then has required the greatest arrogance of all: teaching creative thinking!!! The greatest insult to us!!! The people who thought that up should all be verbally slapped for removing from humans what is rightfully ours – our thinking, our ability – greater or lesser – to work things out, to consider things, to care, to share ideas with each other, to validate our thinking, to come up with new ideas from discussion… – What it is, people not aGREEing with the authority are diagnosed ‘not creatively thinking’!, something like, ‘you’re not LIStening to me’!, which you know follows behavior that doesn’t follow, again, the authority’s command/s. Disagreement by the lesser person, like the child, or student, or employee, or person incarcerated, has to give rise to disapproval – loud disapproval in one form or another: shouting at the subject; giving them a bad grade/grading them ‘failed’; determining and applying punishment.
Again, the commoditization of what we do naturally – the great taking – as have been taken our growing food, our living on land, our healing each other, our art, our play, our crafts work. Yes, there are people who do those. But it’s all of us who’d like to be able to have time to do those.
The natural human interaction, us teaching and learning with each other, has been denied us, permitted in a perverted form, uncomfortable for all involved, to a few people. Some people are made to be students, some teachers, and some JANitors!. As much as any of those people might be grateful for being allowed at least any of those positions, and say so, saying they like it, or love! it, they don’t. But of course, we’re not allowed to have that said. People in that circumstance feel they HAVE TO claim it; ‘can’t complain’, yeah?
Yes, that natural behavior cannot happen in a structure where we have to get to The Rich’s jobs. (Regardless our unions and the media and our mothers tell us those are our jobs, they’re not.)
The root of the word education is ‘educe’. What this means is that people whatever their age are complete, whole – unless, of course, acted upon destructively by their immediate environment. A baby comes out of their mother and is fine – not needing to become complete. A seven-year old child is complete, as is a 20, 30, 80-year-old. We’re not in need of repair all our lives. We’re fine!! We’re splendid!! We’re as magnificent as the elephants, the trees, …we, people. We all have contributions to make as whole people all our lives. We don’t have to become a resource by virtue of school.
Educing – using our content, our questions, our knowledge, our talents, our natural desires to study, teach and learn – bringing forward among our communities all our desires to live well and to enable each other as well, to enjoy life – these are education. These are in contradiction to ‘school’. I don’t think I have to go on at length to emphasize the negative reception school is to us – taking us in as though we need fixing, saying it will ‘educate’ us, as though we are that empty vessel needing to be filled with what school will, turning us out able to work capitalism’s jobs – or not. Too many people are marginalized through the device of school.
I know that Berkeley has been conscientious about these issues; it’s why I moved here over 30 years ago, in order to let my young daughter go to school here. Berkeley High at that time had just been in upheaval because of ‘Vietnam’. This was satisfying to me, and lent a notion that people, while segregated by their age could participate nevertheless, together to understand and stand up for that good life for all people. And Berkeley has persisted in innovating, creating programs where young people are able to do more among the community than less broad-minded, less funded, less enriched – parents that are part of the University – school districts can encourage.
I know that Berkeley also is plagued by societal ‘outsiders’, people whose personal circumstances, communal circumstances grow alienation so oppressive they have in large part, not been able to participate productively in the schools, and cause great disruption that has not been able to be mitigated by even the most arduous attempts at creative alternatives in the schools. So much of that disruptive behavior begins at nursery school – pre-school, and in Kindergarten; wildly disoriented children. As well there come to be the older children who just pull away from the stultifying days at school. I married one. And then bore two. And to a degree, was one.
I know that excessive class size, constantly reduced funding by a jealous state and federal government, limited building care, immensely poor wages for teachers, the need for police protection on campus, limit pleasant classroom experiences. And to many people it is evident that hope is scarce given the limited opportunities for self-maintenance while studying – can a student afford to stay in school, afford to go to and through advanced studies, get usable, worthwhile, well-paying enough work after the training and studies, in this derailed economic situation – all are concerns that fluster motivation and interfere with ability and especially desire to work toward goals required in the for-profit society. Recognition of the limited possibilities for inclusion and material security make the student aware the system is lying to them, abusing them, clarifying the reason for the abuse back – the variously criminal responses.
Teachers, the school, have no recourse to repair this. Students and schools know they’re – well, at least suspect – somewhere back there in their concern – they’re deceiving themselves and trying to deceive the students. Of course, many students go on to acclimate knowing or not the oppressive circumstances.
These limitations color the classroom experience, as well. Discouragement moves people toward disruptive behavior on site.
Clearly a host of reasons in the present structure stand in the way of making successful, comfortable educational experiences FOR EVERYONE, and even for many. Even people who complete high school, college, graduate work often have many bad experiences trying to get the kind of work we’re supposed to want and obtain upon ‘completion’ of an education process.
There too, gets to be a question, this one being who is allowed to work in our society. Not everyone, clearly. What about the status of work, is another question. We’re taught from early on that work is anathema, relegated to the lesser classes; a time we must suffer in order to get to where we don’t have to work; where we’ve enough financial resource so that we can stop working. This is a reasonable evaluation in this arrangement where most work is destructive to Earth, badly compensated, profiting the super rich, in the end. Almost regardless what the job is, from elected to employed in government, to research, to retail, to maintenance of all kinds, these maintain the Ruling Class’s society, for THeir power and profit.
These are definitely discouraging. These also offer us bad models. The example we’re told over and over, is that if we become the Ruling Class, we too will benefit from others’ labor. But we know the Rulers are the people who shift the armies around the world, including the local armies – police, to protect their interests. These Rulers own who make the laws – buy them in so many ways.
This is not new; it’s age-old. This country, the land that became named the U.S., was invaded from the 1600s by corporations who paid the teeny amount needed to encourage persecuted people to try to find relief elsewhere from where they’d been living. The Rhode Island Corporation, The Delaware, The Hudson’s Bay, The Virginia, and more corporations paid for a boat and the few supplies both for the crossings and for the survival after landing, convincing sad, hopeful – otherwise hopeless – people to take whatever advantage there might be to set up on these continents. Fortunately for those corporations communications were so bad there was little confirmation of how terrible the crossing and survival in the next place to live were that got back to the people who kept coming. Even as it did, conditions were so bad in Europe, England, that people left anyway – do or die.
People long realized the illusions they let themselves be gulled by – and for the same circumstances, substantially. Things are or would be so bad that this choice – not really a choice – must be selected. The resistance to compulsory classrooms has so much justification for being just that, resistance to the lies. Resistance to compulsory classrooms is so justified for being just that, resistance to the deceptions, the lies of how the classroom will practically guaranTY some security including pleasure.
We need to talk. We need to identify age segregation as not being what we want. Whom does it serve? It serves us who must go to the job. Whom does the job serve? It barely pays us, generally doesn’t feel good to do; if it is good work it’s usually done in uncomfortable environments – bad working conditions or too much time when it could be done in much less time, by many more individuals.
Were we all able to provide us all with the material we need and like to get along and to enjoy life, all people who could work however much they can work regardless of age – no arbitrary, forced retirement or exclusion from participation by age, all people provided with our needs and wants as we work, a four-hour work WEEK would over-produce. Taking that into our thinking about where we belong, we’d get another view of the objectives for society. The objectives would become enjoying life fully today – all of us. All of us building, taking care, studying a calculus for building a ‘whatever’ or knocking down the excessive structures mad(men) have been building these many centuries. …all of us playing – ball, violin; relaxing, taking a walk. Singing. All of us.
We CAN ALL sing, teach, build, heal, knit and sew and grow and make and distribute and consume – and enjoy our work and play and learn together. We have to work out how. We need a place to relax and talk about it. …to plan and create ideas to try it.
We have to move the governmental laws that keep us from freeing ourselves for our kind of living instead of the living that serves the system. The testing, the uniform classroom experiences and studies, the grading requirements…all artifices that serve the profit system, the separation system, the dis-integrating system….
If Bush can change the laws and make war… If the U.S. government can end labor protections … If the government can let slide anti-monopoly regulations and laws … Surely we can promote bodies of resistance to claim our heritage, our right to enjoy life – to like our children – not to look forward to their going back to school in the fall to get them off our hands – a standard attitude – so destructive for us….
We can offer ideas together if we can come out from under the laws that force us to teach to recreate the oppressive systems rather than to change them. Where innovations work out, we can use and enhance them. Where they need fixing or elimination and replacement with other ideas for how to be together, we could do that too. We need the economic structure that’d let us do that – our combined taxes coming back to us for our benefits, instead of into the Rich’s pockets, via Their wars and prisons and debt….
Many structures would have to be changed in order for us to examine how to make these changes. But there is no general forum for talking about these. Yes we do meetings here and there, and the boards work to try to do things as well as they can in our cities. My candidacy is offering formation of that forum that builds toward creating the changes such as these that we’d all like to see. The reforms that are tried within the frameworks permitted cannot begin to reach far enough actually to allow these changes.
Our only choice is to dig at the foundation together, remove and replace it with the objective of being comfortable, leading pleasant lives – FOR ALL of us, not isolating our children, not segregating ourselves into our jobs, not telling old people we/they don’t fit into the usual run of society. Instead of replicating the format that, no matter how we work at it, keeps repeating the same failures, let us create the forum to plan the total changes we’d like.
You’ll ask what my alternative is, not getting that I’ve avoided telling you a specific different structure.
Because we’re so accustomed to doing what we’ve always done, it’s hard to discern what in fact I’ve told you here. I’m saying we live and work together, in a natural flow of interests and abilities, relaxing and enjoying it. Knowledge is as desirable, as tasty as cake and love-making. We all do it, would do it, would urge others to do it. Our needs remain regardless of the set-up. In a just system, which the above requires, what’s called socialism because we’d all be taking care of each other and ourselves, we’d provide ourselves together what we need and like. Plenty of teaching and learning would HAVE to go on, and people would want to have it go on.
Absent profit, absent buying and selling the commodities – including the commodity education, we’d all be doing it all.
But most of all, YOU’D be making the world. YOU’D be arranging and changing how we do it all.
Socialism, you know, is not a pre-planned format. The taking of the fruits of our labors for us all, ending profit, permits us these efforts to give ourselves lives to enjoy – relax and enjoy, play… sing, do work relevant to our lives, not to profit.