Age segregation

As you know, if you tell an idea over and over, …after a while it becomes accepted, regardless its veracity.

Who’s a scholar

Creating people who need to be educated

School reform – not

Creating things people need to buy

…no study’s ever been done, no experiment, to show that any of this age segregation is the right or better way to do living.

The ‘scholars’ (I mark it because we’re all scholars regardless how we pursue that tendency – or are inhibited from pursuing it by surrounding limitations. Most people don’t get the chance to pursue their scholarly intentions) The scholars write saying, ‘a 3 year old does this, a 7 year old that, a 30 year old this and that, and so on. They make it up, do research to support their examination, regard the variances from their original idea, if such there are, and publish, and become highly respected – or, even more highly respected. Whether in fact the hypothesis they’ve just shown by reporting evidence to back up their idea, the idea that increases their stature on the job, is the only way to consider the circumstance gets lost in the process of proving the point.

Then, guided by this actually feigned – not so much intentionally – body of commentary the authors compile – this that passes as substance becomes de rigueur. Equipped with these variously contrived theses that fit the long accepted contrivances of how to live in the capitalist-ically made world, in itself a brutal, limiting construct, these become the standard, the way things are done. The derivatives of these analyses become for purposes of teaching – for teaching business techniques(tactics), or how to read and write, or reading, literature, scientific research – they become the guides for constructing these studies; for constructing work-jobs, schools, thinking; these ideas are institutionalized. As these conclusions appear with frequency, regularly, and are headlined and implemented, they are called reform, school reform, meaning improvement, advancement, change. These institutions, the ideas, the course outlines, the buildings, the campuses, all perpetuate the age segregation with which we live. And they are no different from what has gone before.

They certainly are not reform in the sense the community is required to infer they are; they’re not structurally different from preceding forms. And their content while told to us as different, isn’t. The reforms don’t (can’t) repair the failures that school embodies – by its nature.

Scholars must find the situations of people living age integrated 500, 200, even 100 years ago, … with arms thrown up in amazement! at this quality of life, lacking; sufficient, but lacking, ‘needing’ development. My mother told me when I was growing into female form that I was ‘developing’, an acceptable – though worrying concern. It took me decades to translate that status, developing, into imperialist imposition for profit, developing housing and stores – meaning what had been shops, and infrastructure systems – transportation, schools, hospitals and offices, into where we’d played baseball in empty lots. These people, described as ‘living on pennies a day’ (imperialism’s money), evaluated relative to the assessments the authors want to make, want us all to make, are shown to be illiterate, to have no written language – a rather rich spoken tongue, suitable to their survival living and their storey telling and their song composing, but none written; they don’t have Fieldcrest sheets on their bed – maybe, or towels in their toilet rooms.

So their social set-up that they’ve been living for centuries is summarily in need of development, we’re told.

Roads get paved, docks and airports built so imperialism’s transports can carry the extracts out, the murderous devices including laborers – overseers – who will control the local labor, suppress union organizing when the people begin to rise against this oppression – carry imperialism’s devices in. Shoes become a necessity. …walking barefoot on the aggregate and tar or asphalt is not like walking their ancient dirt paths.

Labor becomes virtually indentured to the jobs touted as good for them, moving the extracts – minerals, or forests – to these Owners’ warehouses. …and the rest, the familiar gathering of yet another tribe of people into the imperial embrace.

There is no room on these plantations to continue inclusion of all the members of the original community in the daily functioning. The children must be brought into this ‘new’ configuration – done by requiring them to ‘pass’ through school, school being the sharing of the Owners’ conditioning content, so the children – and their families – will become familiar with the Owners’ processes.

Age segregation becomes the basis of the reconfiguration of the society.

These have happened and are happening to the last age integrated societies. Agri-farming – agri-production of blouses and houses and turnips and care for babies and for physically/mentally limited people must be done by reclassifications of who’s appropriate to do what is now reclassified as work; even made into jobs – although housewife-ing…househusband-ing never is…can’t have too much formalization of the worker status. If wife-ing were a job, it’d have to be included in the lexicon of work that gets paid, however poorly, bringing endlessly innumerable more people into the work force, cutting profits. Placing housecare into the same status as a job would ruin everything; almost EVERYone then could clearly be seen as a worker, pointing even more strongly to our need for us to organize… to resist ….

The children, forcefully extracted from the family into child-care and Kindergarten, and their adults, experience that alienation with which we are all too familiar; the one where children are thrilled to be released from school at the end of the day and at the end of the school year, and their adults are thrilled to have them return the next morning or in August or September. The distance between these two groups is everywhere evident in capitalist society – as though it’s natural for parents and children to be kind of enemies of each other. The separation is good, though, for selling stuff to the children. All the children need – endless pencils and book packs and fashions – not. At least they didn’t when stuff was not how our Owners got our labor and our money.

I just watched a ‘children’s’ tv show, one of those blaringly painful productions that parents and children and ‘teachers’ are required to like, to let themselves get conditioned to like, much as the earliest responses to these shallow screechings must have irritated people, I’d guess – . Inartistic in sound and vision quality, and in language as they are.

People went fishing. They learned huge amounts of ‘science’ including numerous communications skills – reading, writing, speaking, thinking, drawing, teaching – the children as well as the older people teaching – themselves and each other. All asked and looked for answers to questions; – research, you know.

Except for the squeaky speaking, the interchanges were intelligent, not dumbed down. …reminding us that living is education – that which is stolen from us when we’re young, and when we’re parenting, bogged down with poor ratios of older persons to care for children, that we go about stealing back for years, at great pains, because retrieving ourselves from the severe alienation capitalism requires in order for us to think we’re living ok, that school was good, that we’re doing better than most of the world, and that we must – a deathly submission – serve our country! soldier-ing, …that this half of life is done with great recrimination and melancholy – for all that we’ve missed in life…

Living age-segregated and under the 40hour week compulsion imposes requirements that leave us wanting late into life, instead of enjoying life. We miss our children, they their parents and siblings and neighbors, and our lovers, – in the bloom of those times.

normaha@pacbell.net

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AFTERLOGUE

I didn’t know I hated school until I was about 60 – years old, maybe even later – maybe not until I began to live with death – my dear husband died and death gripped my heart – eventually, literally.
The agonizing clutch of loss of one so dear and essential, he who gave meaning to my life – because I chose he would and he could, made my view become that looking back to see what I’d done. Up until then I’d gotten together with Jack – the meaning in my life; the beauty, the color, the self-respect because he who I worshipped became with me and gave me reason to feel that way about myself, now wasn’t there to shore up my being. So, what had I done?
And pretty much, nothing, really.
That had been ok all those years – because he was here branding meaning onto my life.
Now when I look around I see the events of our lives together and am well pleased at what we did, what I did. But I now, for the first time, compare what I – we, even – might have done had we – maybe just I – not been so content, confident we’d found all we needed, and could find any more if it became that we needed more.
So I looked at my time as a student and later as an employee – a grocer – in my folks’ store; an office clerk – during school breaks; a parent – albeit accidentally, unwillingly, and then a school teacher –also unwillingly, but out of necessity.
I’d promised when I was 9 that I would not ‘be’ – do schoolteaching. But I did – for 15…20 years.
As a student at U. Chicago I had not had a background that enabled me to reach a maturity where I could understand the content of the courses – even French – let alone history, physics, social sciences. Even music – a year of fine arts study – I forget what that came under – I didn’t grasp that there was analysis to be made.
So I ‘fell in love’ and got married – and did a lot of things for 54 years (child, divorced, schooled, careered, married, traveled, another child, working at jobs in between). None of these was done driven by purpose – by a goal; rent, of course; dinner, a coat, transportation, etc. Except – I did manage to tell myself I wanted to work to repair the dreadfully damaging way of the world – attack to end capitalism – profit, growth – and all that means.
If I had known that – really known it, not just poked at it – said I’d do it – instead no-way got that that was A THING to do, to study, to connect to, to be, to become, I’d have lived so differently.
I realize this is not so different from many people’s lives, regardless the common question to a very young person, what do you want to be when you grow up. If I were ever asked that question – and I don’t remember having been, I never answered it. I never understood it…not until these recent 2 or 3 decades.
I did claim the meaningful direction against ‘the system’ about 45 years ago, but doing it as a position – What are you? (you know – secretary, janitor, cook, etc etc). There wasn’t a position 45 years ago, a job, as far as I knew. I did go to work for a community action program in Roanoke – from Chicago where I’d been schoolteaching. That’s likely what I’m talking about, the job as Education Organizer. But I quickly got myself kicked out of that position. It wasn’t right, anyway. I had no idea – well, I had a utopian idea – which I knew was inoperable – for this work. The idea I had was not far from what I’ve recently written, this book…School Is The Opposite Of Education a study to release us from our confinement https://njfhar.wordpress.com/2014/12/10/table-of-contents).
Now I have the wherewithal to look at the disorientation – the lack of orientation, of direction – the origins of that – which are social yes; gender sourced, class sourced, relative to the times. My folks did tell me I could be anything I wanted to. I just really wanted to be part of someone, embraced, sleep with – literally sleep, be adjacent to – to love and be loved – although elsewhere I’ll describe my truncated loving ability. And once – again – again – I had that I was done; not aimless – but not with an objective. …other than as I said – which took ages to search out.
I’ve said school got in my way – in retrospect.
What would I have done had there not been school – elementary, high – the wrong one, it turned out; I could have gone to the U. of Chicago Lab School – that would have changed everything. My folks moved from the area of a top high school in the country – Hyde Park High. But the U.C. school would have given me the same advantage – a place to think, to be with others who were not bogged down with hard working class lives like the people at the high school I did attend, bogged down with racism and sexism and efforts to fit themselves in to work I had no ability to see was what I was supposed to want too. Very classist distinction.
I didn’t ‘get’ it. I didn’t ‘get’ the cliques. I just knew I didn’t have friends. I had no enlightenment – except from home – and after a while from Young Progressives, of Progressive Party – good to do, good to do. But still, school being dominant, as far as I knew, being the parameter of my life – I just never knew I was supposed to ‘want to be when I grew up’!
Plus the dear parents kept me overoccupied – with piano and ballet lessons, the ballet, which seemed to be the direction I’d follow, became physically inaccessible for me, bursitis. So I was lost. I knew then I was shocked – in great pain at that loss, diversion, confusion, but could not think of an answer. I couldn’t go to Julliard or Bennington to study choreography – we didn’t know I had talent for that. And it was not evident that I could work up materials on my own. So that slid by.
Meanwhile, my immigrant folks were off-put by me, and I by them even though I highly regarded and lived according to their ways; classical music, no lie – a MAjor problem – I should have lied a lot! Commitment to communism – much the way devout children take up their parents’ religion. The distance between me and my parents could be why I so yearned to be close with someone – for me, a man; …could be why getting that alleviated yearning. In fact, when I got together with Jack I stopped having stomach aches!
Much of that was true of Jack, too; immigrant parents, never enough material security, sufficiency, warmth from parent to child. And Jack too, took up his parents’ standards.
HUH! I just glanced back to see the computer underlined a word – overoccupied – because it’s a misspelling according to the on-line dictionary – and got reminded of the other main loss in my childhood. I played baseball. In another time and place I would have been a contender!!! It still brings up all the sorrow at all the limits that prevented that pursuit. Closure of that direction – for gender, for class, for having no idea that I might DO that – certainly not available as it was to some stars in high school – I mean – I was stellar!! at it! – and that too, didn’t happen.
Chalk up another confusion, disorientation….
All these bounded by school, confined into the school structure – as people are confined into the job structure – limiting everyone’s (yeah – not EVeryone’s) life by the 9-5, it’s called.
Hating school – that I came upon these last years – is the same hate I advocate about our relationship to all aspects of our lives, the controls against us being permitted to build enjoyable, fulfilling lives for ourselves, for us all. My hatred of school is just seeing the role it plays in confining me and my fellow people, in constraining our view of our place in the world.
I’ve gotten people together to talk about the approach I take. I warn people – I’m not going to tell you a program – what to do instead. I’m going to urge you to propose how else to live than using that structure. Nevertheless we get together and they say …do school this way; do school that way; they always propose school – fixed, of course, as the answer to the problem that school is. …the way they say ‘capitalism’ – fixed, reformed, repaired, as what to do about capitalism. Well, no, the people I gather with don’t say that. But they do call out for jobs! school! both of which intentions show the breached view available.
So, the call, my call, is for us to live together – as I say many times throughout these chapters. Now I’ve gone to describing it as let’s live together like Pesach (Passover) dinner. Everybody gets together and be-s and does and says, young, old, die alle meshpochah – the whole family – of people. We do what needs to be done, what we want done, what we want to do, no age segregation. We teach and learn and study at the site, in a classroom, on location, wherever whatever we do is being done. Work becomes how we live, amid not work. It becomes our joy. Everyone works – all members of society be productive. Everyone assumes an obligation to produce necessities, which are pleasures too, and to not produce anything – just relax, just sit and have a coffee and a smoke – well, not a smoke – but reproduce the market gathering – walk to the market – not drive to the mall – and visit with each other.
A health clinic on every corner, next to a farm, with livestock on it, rotating through the sections, feeding the earth that feeds them – and us, across the road from the opera house and the stadium, across the street from the community house and the grocery store, shops integrated with farming, not concreting the land, healing it, reclaiming it, living city-rich far from cities. As well as living in urban density. Everyone has to do stuff – that’s our way, human’s way. Capitalism prevents that. Considering then that all people can work – 2yearolds, 90 year olds, what do you think is the percentage now of people that work – in the U.S. and in industrialized nations. 10%? I think so…
In that circumstance work becomes that wholly other arrangement that is part of the meaning of our lives along with all else that we do – that we have TIME to do – because maintenance takes up such a small amount of our time – 10 hours a week – unless we WANT to spend 100 hours a week at it because it’s so splendid – maybe just for a few weeks – or years – or our lifetime – up to us – as needed, wanted.
Can you see it? Which part can’t you see? Can we talk about what you can – not see? Can we get together over the idea and start to build our daily lives toward this direction? We’d have to change the laws that make us watch our children every minute, so they can go off to where they would, to do what they would – – yeah that takes some work. But first we have to stop aiming for what one struggling student called ‘free compulsory education’. We know what she meant. But it comes out ‘funny’ – free compulsory…
Some responses have been ‘these ideas have to wait until we’ve actually gotten to the better way to live’. But it’s working to enact these ideas that will bend us toward building that better way to live. After all, these put us up against the system that murders us for resisting our Owners’ processes. So it’s a long haul to start to get there…
So let us name things to do. Jobs. Work. Then let us describe our behavior together. It includes teaching each other how to do it; includes agreeing to do it. It includes working out ways to do it. It includes language skills, including beginning reading and writing – because we like to teach – we enjoy sharing our knowing and our questioning.
Only in the capitalist system is there a disease of not ‘knowing’ oneself, of having to go off to ‘find’ oneself. The alienation required in capitalism creates the loss of oneself, and that need to commoditize finding oneself – through paying for counseling – or traveling East to meditate – religion-surf.
This book describes the alternative to school. It says we should live together. It says ALL study can go on living together and doing what’s necessary to live together. We’re supposed to enjoy being here, I say, not constantly be trying to come out of being disturbed by what we have to do. Claiming our minds through the way we live is not utopian; it’s essential. It goes together. As we live together we be ourselves, together. And we just teach and learn all the stuff and do it.

normaha@pacbell.net

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The Political Economy of Dyslexia monthlyreview.org http://monthlyreview.org/2014/09/01/the-political-economy-of-dyslexia

I encourage this kind of research; it’s fun; it stimulates hypothesizing – conversations together with similarly interested, trained-skilled thinkers and analysts on the subject. This activity is among the greatest pleasures; – – getting ideas and developing them, whether they come out at the initial goal whether or not there is one, whether or not it agrees with the initial thinking, the original cause of the research.

Importantly, it exemplifies my recommendation about how we live learn teach study; people all ages who are interested belong on site of any of this research. They come together because of the mutual interest; they learn they’re mutually interested because they hang around together, because they look for each other to tell each other some of the ideas they want to consider. They bring along their 2year-old. The 90 year-old joins them. Then they spend 25hrs a day – except for the time they take to tend to their basic needs whatever those are, including care of people, including cleaning up after themselves (NO JANITORS!) – they spend their time WORKing at this idea, contributing thereby, to the well-being of the community.

Within this study people who haven’t yet learned how to read write calculate beGIN to, if that’s appropriate, or side-step to find out how to – in a classroom that’s around, or with someone or several people who want to teach and-or learn the skill/s.   Learning those takes minutes, hours, not 8 to 12 years (un)learning them, as goes on in the compulsory ‘education’ – school we live with. School is reformed over and over, always, as the review says, to accommodate our Owners, to supply the profiteers with a malleable workforce.

Calculation study goes on infinitely. …just as do studies of all facets of our thinking. …just as studying Shakespeare comes out of living with literature – with reading and writing, advanced calculation beyond arithmetic and algebra and all goes on endlessly.

This review shows us the role of remediation – special ed.   Schools showing they had remediative populations could get more funding. Remedial programs solicit funding from the common weal – deceptively – well, incorrectly – working a made-up problem; quantifying it; hiring people trained to teach regarding one or another debility. In fact, remediation was for some decades, the largest direction, the largest site of school funding. School having created ‘misbehavior’ of one sort and another, being unable to limit it by older controls – threats, parental involvement, actual striking, deprivation of rewards or privileges, there became the ‘mental health’ classification, treating aberrant behavior as an anomaly, which to a degree it is – at least in this aberrant society, an anomaly requiring medication or psychiatric therapy.   With the competition from private schools, a for-profit business effectively growing out of public school, like so many of our public services – transportation, utilities, recreation, public housing, – privatization of what we, workers, make – private elementary school has to a degree caused reduction of the emphasis on creating a population of imbeciles by perverting educating, substituting reforms, including medical intervention; in effect what we’ve seen in ‘school’ the past 100 to 200+ years.

Calling what goes on in school education is directly connected to our subjugation. Us accepting that we need to be educated, as well as that we must educate, means we accept that we are not educated; and we accept that only through the schooling process do people get educated. Education in this form is an aggression against our intelligence, our knowledge, our individual make-up as well as against people’s communities. It obviates our intrinsic value, our extrinsic talents, our participation in our society, forcing us to be molded by school, instead of by our thinking and experiences together. School is not educational. It is the opposite.

Again, educe: 1. to draw forth or bring out, as something potential or latent; elicit; develop. 2. to infer or deduce. This means we all have content. Education is us coming together to share it, to expand it, to think together. Education is us getting up in the morning, walking out the door, and seeing, hearing, thinking – or staying in bed and thinking, – and the rest of our lives.

It is an insult to be hated, that we must BE educated.   Being told we need to be educated surely hates us.

The review looks at some thoughts about complex understandings of what goes on when we begin to read, and what the popular process of being educated is, how it creates conditions said to require therapy of one kind or another, emotional or physical. Many methods for instruction divert our many naturally arising directives to learn and think and get along.

The dyslexia diagnosis much too conveniently ties into the deceptively based therapeutic place of the classroom.

In the review you can see the terribly – the overly – complex analysis of how we come to read, and how dyslexia is a function of that process. The blame is a physical breakage in the brain, or a genetic factor – like the genes of alcoholism, or of criminal behavior. …like the genius gene AS IF!

 

The Political Economy of Dyslexia by Steven L. Strauss is a neurologist in Baltimore, Maryland and author of The Linguistics, Neurology, and Politics of Phonics: Silent ‘E’ Speaks Out (Erlbaum, 2005). This article is adapted from a keynote address delivered in May 2012, at the 2nd Medicalization of Education conference held in Salvador, Brazil.

There are two diametrically opposed conceptions of reading and dyslexia, each with loyal advocates. This analysis will clarify some of the important categories that are needed in order to participate knowledgeably and critically in current discussions about dyslexia.

The first conception is dyslexia as biological disease—medicalized dyslexia. By the medicalization of dyslexia is meant that dyslexia is considered to arise from a pathologic condition of the human brain and mind. The etiology of dyslexia, in the medicalization perspective, is to be found in abnormal circuitry in the brain and in a corresponding abnormality in one circumscribed segment of psychology, psychology itself being one of the main functions of the brain.

In principle, the medicalization of dyslexia can take a number of forms. But the dominant principles of medicalized dyslexia, at least in the way they are discussed in the U.S. media and professional journals, can be summarized as follows:

Dyslexia is a specific type of learning disorder, manifesting as an otherwise unexpected difficulty with learning to read. It is unexpected because the dyslexic individual is normal with respect to all the presumed prerequisites for becoming literate—such as normal intelligence and adequate education level.

Dyslexia arises from the effects of an abnormal gene or gene complex.

The abnormal gene interferes with the normal ontological migration of neurons (nerve cells) to specific regions in the brain.

These now pathologic brain regions are unable to carry out phonological processing—the conversion of alphabetic letters to oral phonemes (the basic sounds of the language).

As a consequence of not being able to convert visual language to oral language, the author’s text is unable to enter the language processing parts of the brain, a necessary step in reading, as the human brain is hard-wired to process only oral language, not other material forms of language.

As a result, the reader is unable to identify words and find their associated meanings in his or her oral lexicon. The reader is unable to turn print into meaning.The most widely cited figure in the medicalization model of dyslexia is Sally Shaywitz, a pediatrician at Yale University.1

A very different conception of why some people fail to learn to read can be found in the transactional sociopsycholinguistic model of reading, whose most widely cited figure is educator Kenneth S. Goodman.2 Rather than looking inside the poor reader for the source of the problem, this model looks to the surrounding social context. Its principles are:

Reading is making sense of print.

Making sense of print is a process of constructing meaning as one moves through the text.

The construction of meaning is a psycholinguistic guessing game, in which the reader recruits a variety of cuing systems—syntax, semantics, graphophonic (letter-sound) knowledge, background knowledge, and background belief systems—to formulate hypotheses about the author’s intended meaning.

These meaning hypotheses are continually tested against incoming text, to be either accepted, rejected, or revised.

The various cuing systems differ in the degree to which they are effective and efficient in helping the reader construct meaning from print. Background knowledge and syntactic knowledge are highly effective and efficient—they are more meaning-laden—whereas graphophonic relationships are much less effective and efficient, because they have little intrinsic connection to meaning.

The use of cuing systems in constructing meaning from print is, in essence, the same phenomenon as that which occurs whenever we make sense of the world—whether that means interpreting a visual scene, sounds in a park, or oral language.

Therefore, reading is not its own unique psychological process. Instead, it is one example of what humans do all the time. We make sense of our world—or at least we try to.

The impulse to make sense of the world—of language, behaviors, scenes, and scents—is entirely natural, requiring no formal instruction, though it requires appropriate means, motive, and opportunity.

Therefore, learning to read is a fundamentally natural process, requiring no formal instruction, but only exposure to authentic reading materials.

For a beginning reader, this exposure to authentic reading materials is a social event, accomplished alongside a more competent partner. A teacher, parent, or older sibling sits and reads with the child. This is a Vygotskyan notion.

The early cultivation of the notion that reading is all about making sense of print is aided not only by the partner’s focus on the author’s meaning, but by the text itself being supplemented with meaning-laden cues, like pictures of the characters and actions.

As a consequence, the cause of failure to learn to read, when the child is otherwise healthy and normal, is to be found in environmental factors, chiefly in inadequate access to means and opportunity, which may suppress motive. Failure to learn to read is therefore a social phenomenon, akin to failure to learn French if you grow up in Salvador, Brazil. It is failure to learn a certain language—written English, or written Portuguese.

The phenomenon of individual reading failure must be understood as part of the more general social problem of illiteracy.

Medicalized dyslexia, in my view, overestimates the number of people who may actually have some neuropathologically based reading disorder, because it conflates into this category cases of reading disability which are more likely the result of social factors, that is, individual instantiations of the same forces that produce illiteracy as a social phenomenon. The transactional sociopsycholinguistic model underestimates the number of true biological dyslexics, because it has no biologically based research of its own to justify excluding it as an explanatory mechanism (though broad principles of cerebral organization are most consistent with it).3

But there is no question that the medicalized approach is highly suspect as a scientific enterprise, because its very conception of the reading process as the piecemeal processing of increasingly larger linguistic units is at odds with empirical facts that have been known for a half century. In general, we know that reading, in fact, is the dialectical interaction of whole-to-part and part-to-whole processing, guided always by the effort to make sense of the text. Therefore, to the extent that medicalized reading and dyslexia is promoted as political policy, it is merely political propaganda parading as science.

It can therefore be appreciated that those who promote medicalized dyslexia will insist that they are just being good biologists. They are simply interpreting the scientific data, the hard facts. They will support their claims with high-tech experimental studies, which can dazzle the lay public. Notions such as class and its role in the unequal social distribution of literacy and illiteracy do not figure into their elegant experiments.

Conversely, those who recognize the social character of literacy have had to defend alternatives to experimental design in the scientific study of language, because the function of language, which is the level at which the psychology of making sense and constructing meaning operates, is fundamentally altered when language is taken apart, then taught and learned one decontextualized piece at a time. Function-centered research cannot be pursued with strictly experimental methodology applied to abstracted portions of the phenomenon. An experimental study of how children sound out a word on a flash card does not extrapolate to how a proficient reader treats that very same word in a linguistic text and psychosocial context.

Shaywitz’s seminal 1998 article “Dyslexia,” which appeared in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, can be thought of as a key milestone in the evolution of the contemporary medicalized approach to reading problems. More than a decade later, Shaywitz criticized the transactional sociopsycholinguistic approach to understanding reading failure, writing that “self-appointed opinion makers…ascribe children’s reading problems entirely to sociological or educational factors and totally deny the biology.”4 The most generous interpretation of her phrase “self-appointed” is that her opponents are on shaky scientific grounds and are entitled to no nod of approval from the broader scientific and academic community. In fact, Shaywitz was herself an appointed opinion maker, serving on the politically appointed National Reading Panel, whose charge was to prepare a report for Congress that would be described as one with major “significance for the future literacy of this nation and for the economic prosperity and global competitiveness of our people.” So announced Dr. Duane Alexander, head of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, on the occasion of his presentation of the National Reading Panel report to Congress in 2000.5

Thus, Alexander took Shaywitz’s high-tech, allegedly basic, scientific research on reading and dyslexia, and gave it the economic dressing for which it had certainly been commissioned in the first place. Its political rationale appeared in quite explicit terms with the recent Council on Foreign Relations publication of Joel Klein and Condoleezza Rice’s document U.S. Education Reform and National Security, which states that “America’s education failures pose five distinct threats to national security,” including “threats to economic growth and competitiveness.”6 Klein was the Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, before moving on to work for an education division of News Corp, publishers of the right-wing tabloid the New York Post. Rice, of course, was the National Security Advisor and Secretary of State under George W. Bush.

The very title of the report raises questions as to what the consequences might be for those who oppose the “reform.” But the content of the report also emphasizes that the economic and political concern about reading and literacy is not merely proficiency as a reader. Rather, it is “reading for information,” or, extrapolating further, reading to become an engineer rather than a lover of poetry. Indeed, the specific emphasis of the current, corporate-promoted education reform in the United States is on just two school subjects—reading and mathematics. Reading for information, that is.

There is the type of reading we do for work, and there is a very different type of reading we do in our free time. The type of reading the medicalizers have in mind is work reading, reading for specific information, reading for developing and troubleshooting new software and other digital technology. Academic researchers are all too familiar with the difference between work reading and non-work reading, since in professions that have only fuzzy boundaries between work time and free time, there is often the unfortunate, sometimes irresistible, urge to do work reading during leisure time.

When the sole type of reading that counts for government policy is work reading, reading for information, and when such reading is deemed critical to U.S. global economic competitiveness, it is clear that we are talking about reading as a labor skill, one that is necessary to maintaining U.S. hegemony in the global capitalist economy. This is a polite way of saying that a new form of literacy would be required to sustain the U.S. empire. According to the logic of empire builders, dyslexia is the failure to learn a specific labor skill.

It is therefore no coincidence at all that the theoretical model of reading promoted by the medicalizers is an automatic, computational, information-processing one. Identify the letters in a word, compute their phonemic equivalents, concatenate the phonemes into words, retrieve the word’s lexical meaning, compose the meanings together, and arrive at the author’s meaning. A government commission on education and the economy identified “21st century literacy” as the ability to “read, write, and compute,” the crucial linguistic labor skill needed to win the battle for the market in the new digital economy.7 The National Institutes of Health (NIH) provided policymakers with a scientific cover.

The policymakers proceeded to enact No Child Left Behind, the “education” reform law that would push reading as the chief twenty-first century labor skill needed to maintain the empire. George W. Bush called it “a jobs bill.”8 Any doubt that mastering certain labor skills is the real goal of NCLB is eliminated by the simple observation that the law only applies to public schools, that is, the schools for working-class children. It does not apply to the private schools for children of the overprivileged—schools attended by President Obama’s daughters, for example.

A closer look at the theory behind medicalized dyslexia reveals that Shaywitz and her colleagues actually ignore their own criteria for identifying reading failure. Shaywitz’s “Dyslexia” article defines developmental dyslexia as “an unexpected difficulty in reading in children and adults who otherwise possess the intelligence, motivation, and schooling considered necessary for accurate and fluent reading.”9 But what does she mean by “motivation” and “schooling”? These are never defined, as if their meanings are all too obvious. They are taken for granted. Scholarly research on this is never reviewed.

But is schooling in an inner-city, poor neighborhood, where school libraries are empty and the school-to-prison pipeline constitutes one of the tracks, the same as schooling in a privileged, suburban neighborhood, filled with all the latest technological gadgets? Is motivation equal?

In giving lip service to their relevance without addressing them head on, the biologically based model of reading is not true to its own definition of dyslexia. It pays a big price for ignoring social variables. In fact, it betrays an implicit social theory, one in which the motivation and schooling of inner-city kids and privileged well-to-do kids are considered equivalent.

But to understand motivation and related matters as they apply to reading would require a scientific investigation of factors such as family literacy, the patterns of library use, and distribution of work time and free time. These cannot be studied with experimental methodology; they require ethnographic tools instead. And such tools are not in the medicalizers’ workshop.

When the medicalizers do wax social in their thinking, they betray a truly profound level of ignorance and imperialist hubris. Reid Lyon was the director of reading research at the NIH during the period of activity of the National Reading Panel. He wrote and spoke widely about the need for phonics in the reading classroom—getting kids to master the letter-sound relationships of the language in order to convert visual language to oral language. These relationships, he claimed, are based on an alleged “alphabetic principle,” which maintains that “written spellings systematically represent the phonemes of spoken words.” Lyon wrote that “unfortunately, children are not born with this insight (the alphabetic principle, SLS), nor does it develop naturally without instruction. Hence, the existence of illiterate cultures and of illiteracy within literate cultures.”10 This quote does not require much additional comment. But it is surely worth summarizing: illiteracy in the third world is due to the unfortunate population not having been taught the alphabetic principle. Means, motive, and opportunity play no role in this sophomoric pseudoscience.

This is the logic that derives from the modes of thought that come from a society whose fundamental driving force is to build and maintain an empire. But it is precisely empire that generates illiteracy, and the truth is that we will really never know what dyslexia is, what its real incidence and prevalence is in society, until we control for the harmful effects of empire.

So I would like to make the radical proposal that we pursue the scientific study of dyslexia by “controlling for empire.” And since learning to read requires means, motive, and opportunity, all of which are denied by empire to enormous segments of humanity, I would say that the best way to control for empire is to eliminate it once and for all.

There are good reasons to take this proposal seriously, not the least of which is that the medicalizers have taught us virtually nothing. Their biological and psychological assertions are empty.

For example, being able to image brain regions where sounding out letters takes place does not mean that sounding out letters is the key to successful reading. It just means that we have a technology that can identify where the brain accomplishes the conversion of letters to sounds. For sure, we have learned something about the technology, that it has a certain degree of cognitive resolution, so to speak. What it tells us about reading remains an open question. When a researcher asks, “Where in the brain does sounding out letters occur?,” this could easily be interpreted as a question to the MRI machine, essentially, “I want to see how good you are. Let’s see if you can show me where in the brain sounding out letters occurs?” In fact, the MRI reading researchers have also demonstrated where in the brain the identification of false fonts occurs, false fonts being letter-like creations of the researcher. In other words, magnetic resonance technology is powerful enough to find brain regions that carry out otherwise useless and meaningless tasks, like identifying a font as not conventionally familiar. For all we know, sounding out letters is just as useless and meaningless. Its status as a central principle in a model of reading and dyslexia needs to first be established on the basis of the empirical evidence from reading research. In other words, the high-tech evidence cannot be interpreted in the absence of a theory of reading.

The medicalizers claim that giving dyslexic readers hours and hours of intensive direct phonics instruction can literally repair their damaged brains. They obtained MRI pictures before and after such instruction and showed that whereas previously the poor reader was not utilizing the letter-sound brain sites in the expected fashion, after the instruction the scans were just like those of skilled readers. “We had observed brain repair,” boasted Shaywitz.11 No; they merely observed that the subjects of their studies learned what they were taught.

The medicalizers’ claim that there is a dyslexia gene, or set of genes, is a preposterous notion within their framework. By their own logic there can be no dyslexia gene because, in their model, reading is not a natural cognitive phenomenon. Written language is not language, they maintain. The brain is hardwired to accept only oral language. That is precisely why words have to be sounded out. Therefore, there can exist no reading gene, which means there can be no pathologic mutation of such a gene. Therefore, any gene that puts a child at risk for dyslexia must be more general. It must impair broad cognitive functions only one of which is reading. But that is not a dyslexia gene, just as a gene that causes muscular dystrophy is not a dysfootball gene.

Despite their bold assertion, the brain is not hardwired to accept only oral language. Every expert on sign language can explain why. It is learned in an entirely natural fashion. It is a real language, with complex syntactic and morphologic structures. And it certainly cannot be translated first into an oral form in order to gain entry into the brain’s language regions, because its users are largely deaf and mute.

Morphometric discrepancies (the differences in size of certain brain regions in normal compared to dyslexic readers) are easily explained by the one thing we do know about children with reading problems—they do not read. Or they do not read as much as children without reading problems. We know from brain plasticity research that brain regions grow in size the more they are used. Taxicab drivers in London have larger anterior hippocampi than non-taxi drivers, and the size increases with experience. This is plasticity. The researchers who get excited about morphometric differences in dyslexics need to control for plasticity in their studies. As far as I can ascertain, they have not done this.

The medicalizers’ exalted alphabetic principle is a myth. The historical transition from logographic (word-based) to alphabetic (sound-based) writing, which was consummated when the ancient Greeks added vowel symbols to the Semitic consonantal system, achieved the advantage of creating an orthography with a relatively small number of manipulable units. Compare the two dozen or so letters of the Roman alphabet to the tens of thousands of signs in Asian logographic writing systems, like Chinese. Logographic signs represent individual words, which are inherently unlimited in number. Every oral language, however, utilizes a small, fixed, finite set of individual sounds, or phonemes.

Now, alphabetic symbols can represent sounds, of course, but they can also express lexical information, such as when two words with the same pronunciation are spelled differently. For beat and beet, or tents and tense, the distinct spellings are tolerated because they convey distinct words. Conversely, spellings may not change, even when pronunciations do, in order to show that we are dealing with a single lexical unit. The plural suffix in backs and bags is a voiceless spirant in the former and a voiced spirant in the latter. They are not spelled backs and bagz because, apparently, this visual change obscures the linguistic fact that the words end in the same suffix, despite a difference in their pronunciations.

The medicalizers have no explanation for a whole range of established facts about real reading. Here is one: proficient reading is not a process of accurate word identification. How do we know this? From observing and analyzing real reading. Real readers who are proficient at reading for meaning do not look at fully one-third of the words on a page. Real reading is not pronouncing words presented individually on flash cards; this is not a communicative event. Real reading means reading authentic text—language generated by an author with the intention of conveying meaning. Only in such cases is the reader’s goal as it should be: to make sense of the print. And making sense of the print now includes taking into account that the text was composed by a human agent who composed the text purposefully. What is this author trying to say? That is a communicative event.

In such cases, we see that a proficient reader omits words, adds words, and changes words. Here is a typical example. A story might contain the sentence: Well, sitting here in the living room is a lot better than doing what I did the last time Bill was away overnight! A competent reader instead begins: We’re sitting here in the living room is a lot better, but then corrects this to the actual sentence on the page.12 This reader is reading for meaning, to make sense of the text, and does not tolerate phonics-based changes that lead to nonsense.

If proficient reading is making sense of print, then we can predict empirically that the reader’s text will vary from the author’s, because making sense of the author’s text does not require that the reader reproduce that text word for word. All that matters is that the reader’s text be a coherent and cohesive manifestation of any of the innumerable ways of making sense of the print. In contrast, if proficient reading is the accurate identification of individual words, in order to be able to enter the language module of the brain and retrieve the words’ meanings, then we would predict that proficient reading is the accurate, faithful reproduction of the author’s text by the reader. In this instance, the medicalizer’s model of reading makes the wrong empirical prediction.

In fact, poor reading is characterized by an attempt to be phonically accurate. Here is an example of a poor reader’s oral rendition of a piece of text. Instead of reading The bees had been making honey all day long. At night it was cool and calm, this reader reads The best had been making hone all day long. At night it was cold and climb.13 Sense is sacrificed on the altar of phonic accuracy.

These are typical examples of the differences between the oral readings of proficient and nonproficient readers. Proficient readers are willing to sacrifice phonic accuracy for coherent meaning. Nonproficient readers are willing to sacrifice coherent meaning for phonic accuracy. But making sense is what the human brain does all the time. To not do it requires vigorous, conscious suppression. It feels like holding your breath. Soon enough you just have to let go and let the lungs do what they are supposed to do.

The medicalizers want kids to hold their cognitive breaths. That is not sound medical advice.

So all the brain imaging research, genetic research, and pathology research on reading is fundamentally irrelevant, because it is generated by and interpreted within an unsalvageable theory of reading. All the proposals about how we need to drill kids hour after hour on letter-sound relationships are entirely counterproductive, because they take the focus off meaning.

So why is this preposterous pseudoscience in the media, in the classroom, and in the laws passed by Congress? What is the big difference between medicalized reading and the alternative?

The big difference, the one that really matters, is this: the ideas and opinions of the medicalizers are in power; the ideas and opinions of their opponents are not in power. And, to paraphrase Karl Marx, the ruling ideas of society—the ideas that are in power—are the ideas propagated and promoted by the ruling class.

Am I saying that the owners of the giant corporations in the United States came up with medicalized reading? That they took time away from their greedy plunder of the planet to try to understand the reading process and dyslexia? That they just became curious about psychology and language and wanted to make a humanistic contribution?

Of course not. The truth is that the current economic crisis has been of such a profound character that corporate America bought the quick-fix, snake oil phonological processing model, the one that asserts that within a matter of weeks it could repair a human brain. One is reminded of the Stalin-era acceptance of Lysenko’s quick-fix solution to the young Soviet Russia’s famine crisis.

Corporate America got scared in the latter part of the twentieth century. As they themselves understood, they were losing hegemony in the global capitalist marketplace. (That translates into: the empire was falling apart). Recessions began to occur. Their profits were in danger. They had to act fast. They needed a plan. They went to their think tanks. The think tanks advised them to retool the U.S. labor force completely, and to use the public schools to do this. They needed a whole new generation of workers, trained to enable winnable competition in the global, high-tech, digital economy. They needed workers skilled in information processing—knowledge workers, engineers. One such skill involves reading software and hardware manuals, and composing new ones.

But teachers and educators had long before recognized that new research about reading for meaning could explain what they were observing with their children. Phonics was becoming less and less the vogue. The newer understandings of reading also promoted self-selection of reading materials by the children, itself an inherently democratic act, for the very simple reason that it is harder to focus on meaning if you are not interested in the topic. In other words, teachers were adopting a paradigm of literacy which recognized the fundamental importance of meaning-centered curriculum and democratically run classrooms.

The corporate execs of the Business Roundtable and similar outfits had a problem on their hands. Freely chosen meaning and true democracy in the classroom threatened their plans to hijack public education. They had to get rid of the existing classroom paradigm, install a new one, and retool the curriculum. When practiced on a larger scale, we call this “regime change.” And that is precisely what they did. They came up with a plan. And they had both major parties in their hip pocket. In 2000, the Republican President George Bush said, “Phonics needs to be an integral part of our reading curriculum; intensive reading laboratories; teacher retraining.” And in 2005, Democratic President Barack Obama said, “We’ll have to reform institutions, like our public schools, that were designed for an earlier time.”14

So Bush’s No Child Left Beyond evolved into Obama’s Race to the Top, both effectively consummating the handover of the public schools to the corporate agenda. This agenda referred to public schools as “workforce development systems.” It conceived of public schools as factories that manufacture workers with a certain set of labor skills. They call these “21st century literacy skills.” The emphasis is on digital literacy. Only mathematics and a certain type of reading are important in the new curriculum. This new type of reading is reading for information, reading to compute, reading in the world of software and hardware. “Read, write, and compute” is the new mantra.

To make sure classrooms devote their efforts to manufacturing digitally literate workers, schools must demonstrate progress, or else they get shut down and handed over to private companies. To demonstrate progress, kids are given endless tests. More and more, in fact, public school is just test preparation. In some kindergarten classrooms, nap time has been eliminated to allow more time for test preparation.

Tests are the school factory version of quality control. Kids who pass the test are learning the desired labor skill. They are permitted to move along the assembly line. We call that “getting promoted.” Kids who do not pass the tests are held back and, eventually, discarded, like just another flawed product. They find work either in the military or in prison.

Reading is now work reading, seen as an exploitable labor skill. And what is dyslexia? It is failure to become a competent digital worker.

We all know what capitalism has done to the life span. If you are old you are considered worthless. You no longer have the skills and energy to make someone rich. Your wisdom about life does not count for anything anymore.

Now capitalism is trying to destroy youth as well, as it did at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Then, if you were five-years old, you were considered a worker. Now, if you are five-years old, you are a worker-in-training. And, one day, when being five-years old is not considered young enough to begin labor-skill training, then it will be four, then three. The NIH will find some charlatans who have evidence that we can teach reading skills to kids in the uterus.

Clearly, it is not enough to have our own ideas and science and logic that opposes and exposes the ideas, science, and logic of the medicalizers of children. It is necessary, of course, but the opposing ideas are in power. They have an advantage not in virtue of the empirical facts, but in virtue of having the armed state backing them up. Becoming knowledgeable about the science of these issues is only the first step; we also need to completely replace the profit-driven economic system, which falsely and viciously medicalizes children who cannot master a certain set of labor skills. We need to organize society around the needs of the majority of humanity, not the privileges of a tiny handful. We need to bring some sanity back to science, society, and humanity.

To do this we need to abandon wishful thinking. Empire is the fundamental priority of both the Democrats and Republicans. But there are rumblings occurring under the surface. There are protests all over the country against the war on quality public education. There is a movement of civil disobedience urging kids not to take the punitive tests, a pedagogical Russian roulette. Save Our Schools and United Opt-Out are two grassroots organizations working to educate the public about the dangers of the Bush­–Obama corporate education reform agenda. Many socialist parties and groups understand that there is a capitalist-class attack on the public classroom. Now it is crucial that we also understand that the evolving classroom struggle must address the pseudoscientific program of the medicalization of education.

When the day arrives where we are victorious in putting an end to empire, literacy shall bloom in every corner of the planet. We shall clear away all the lies and pseudoscience that currently suffocate so many young people. And, if there are those who truly have difficulty becoming literate, we shall treat them with compassion and respect. The highest priority of society will be the health, happiness, and well-being of its children. And if there are indeed some children who, after society’s best efforts, are still unable to learn to read, they will not be denied a life of dignity and love. They will not be given the message that there is something fundamentally wrong with them, that they are failures in life. Because they are not failures in life. They will be one with all of us, dancing together in our dancing circles and singing together in our choirs.

Notes

Sally Shaywitz, “Dyslexia,” New England Journal of Medicine 338 (January 29, 1998): 307–12; Overcoming Dyslexia (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003).

Kenneth S. Goodman, “Reading: A Psycholinguistic Guessing Game,” Journal of the Reading Specialist 6 (1967): 126­–35; What’s Whole in Whole Language? (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1986).

Steven L. Strauss, Kenneth S. Goodman, and Eric J. Pauslon, “Brain Research and Reading,” Educational Research and Review 4, no. 2 (February 2009): 21–33, http://academicjournals.org/ERR.

Shaywitz, “Dyslexia,” 4.

Joel Klein and Condoleezza Rice, U.S. Education Reform and National Security (NY: Council on Foreign Relations. New York, 2012), 7.

Duane Alexander, “Director’s Testimony at the Hearing on the National Reading Panel Findings, April 13, 2000,” November 30, 2012, https://nichd.nih.gov.

Twenty-first Century Workforce Commission (Washington, DC: National Alliance of Business and U.S. Department of Labor, 2000), 22.

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, U.S. Public Law 107–110, 107th Congress (January 8, 2002), http://ed.gov.

Shaywitz, “Dyslexia,” 307.

G. Reid Lyon, “Report on Learning Disabilities Research,” 1997, http://ldonline.org.

Shaywitz. Overcoming Dyslexia, 86.

E.J. Paulson and A.E. Freeman, Insight from the Eyes (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2003).

Susan B. Argyle, “Miscue Analysis for Classroom Use,” Reading Horizons (Winter 1989): 98 .

“October 11, 2000 Debate Transcript: The Second Gore-Bush Presidential Debate,” Commission on Presidential Debates, http://debates.org; Barack Obama, “Knox College Commencement” speech (June 4, 2005), http://obamaspeeches.com .

normaha@pacbell.net

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Humanities and social sciences matter for everyone By Richard H. Brodhead, guest commentary © 2013 Bay Area news Group Posted: 06/22/2013 Updated: 06/24/2013 http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_23505363/humanities-and-social-sciences-matter-everyone

“With unemployment hovering above 7 percent and the United States facing challenges from Syria to North Korea, you might be surprised by the skills some corporate leaders and military officials say Americans now need…”

This kind of posting is frequent in our print media.  It infuriates me – presses many of my buttons about how we’re supposed to live.  If you’ve read this far you already know why.  I’ll repeat, just because it so irritates me – you know how it feels good to verbalize feelings – we talk about a child’s success, a meeting with a lover, a lovely pair of shoes, a trip – travel, …. These feel good to say.

I need to know I’ve responded to this writing that influences people to succumb to all the elements of schooling that are so oppressive.

The article warns us to prepare against unemployment.  This is not possible in capitalism.  Too many people study in fields impelled by this kind of direction, telling which fields of study – at the college and plus levels will get us good employment.  Too often people follow these directions and then find the excess numbers of qualified workers in that skill causes there to be no available position in that field anymore. Or the degreed person has to go from one job to the next trying to get close to being able to maximize their income and their security at some job they can get because of their degree/s.  Too often no such job is found at all and the schooling has no bearing except having awarded the degrees – the worker having gotten a college ‘education’, so is employable at some job better than ‘hamburger flipping’, THE prime example of failure in employment; the driving force that lets one know they have failed to make the right choice for schooling.   Again, this is common in capitalism.

Capitalism requires that most people feel incompetent, failures. Proud, strong, confident, supported people will not take the insult and deprivation of bad pay, unemployment – with it’s super-crazy-making having to run around trying to get employment. The rise in resistance, insurrection, struggle.

One way media colludes with the capitalist structure is to urge many people to study in a field; teaching, biological research, computer techniques, doctoring, etc etc.  That way the overabundance of eligible employees will keep the waged relationship where it commonly is – poorly paid, with limited or no security, limited or no benefits, the content of the job boring and repetitive, Taylorist limitations having been applied to limit the workers’ input, imagination, ownership of the area of the work, their self respect at the job; and push for ever increased output. 15 minute doctor visits inDEED!!! Be FUrious!

The article talks about the U.S. needing to compete with other competitive locales throughout the world; thereby, the need for the labor force to fit the need to make outstanding achievements at the jobs.  The worker, the well schooled, heavily indebted worker is like a robot, made to fit into the Owners’ production niche, to win against other producers, winning the business in monopolistic manners against all competitors, getting the most profit,  having few or no challengers against their ascendance.

Workers are forced to strive, to get ahead, to take advantage of – not to miss – opportunities. These are competitive behaviors particularly relative to making us believe there is a shortage of sufficiency and that we have to run over others of our brothers and sisters. But we know we are able to provide us all plenty – if we don’t have to enrich The Rich.

These are the opposite of joyful work and cooperation, the elements that are natural for us for all our work.   Not allowing that is a mark of our alienation – the alienation Marx identifies throughout his work.   We do want to cooperate.  It’s easier…and friendly.  When competition isn’t rewarded – by financial gain, by raised status, by the appearance of job security, pension – the causes of the competition we’re accustomed to, we won’t compete – in that way.

This writer, Broadhead, and the system we live in want us to shore up “American prosperity and national security” , now deciding that these objectives require that students be trained in the humanities and social sciences.

If instead people would begin working – being integral to production – from their earliest age, they’d have been including those as part of their work.  The problem is again, the divide in order to conquer – the commodify in order to divide – name elements of knowledge in order to separate them; then sell them – courses separated from the whole body of knowledge from the 3rd grade and earlier, on.   Math – is part of science, is part of social studies is part of literature is part of gym-recess-playing around is part of arts – .

The separation is a control device.  It gives us a people to rule over elements of our lives – that have been separated out – by custom, by the profiting.  If a person or body of people can control an element of knowledge, an element of production, an element of living – washing dishes, doing research, child-care, teaching, making a device everyone suddenly has to have – they can claim it as a niche wherein they can profit; they can OWN it; they can extract it from the commons – for their profit.   And they can reconstruct it, redefine it – so that its obvious definition to us because of our common uses of it becomes muddled, controlled by the Owner of it.

We are “warned of serious consequences” if we don’t follow this ‘new’ directive – to give a broad education – that is, to allow more of the natural thinking and studying along with study of an area by which the student will have a job, make a salary, perhaps even find a way to become free of being tied to a wage; perhaps even become one of the super rich by that study – or an analogous one, or even through a distant study that was done fortuitously, accidentally, because previous study led to it.  Whether or not the end – to profit – is always in mind, finding that niche to control by which to benefit for life, is central.   Three people winning Nobels for the same area of invention is usually accidental, not intentional; usually the winners didn’t know they were working in the same areas.  That the Nobel found them all – only means that the multitude of others who were working on or near the topic are not known, not recognized.   Instead of publishing to the world that ‘I’m working in this area; are you?  Can we collaborate?”, the effort is jealously guarded.  And the prize is great; 10s of 1000s of dollars and more come to the victors.

And the humanities and social sciences broaden the students’, the researchers’, the technicians’ approaches, so they can win – the prize/s, the awards, the recognition, that is rewarded by lessened obligation to clean up after themselves; more opportunity to require the janitor and maid to do the ‘lowly’ work, while the star basks in the luxuries accorded to a person who does not wash to keep their environment clean.

Invariably now, so much performance having been grabbed to individual owners, investors, ‘middlemen’, who profit off employees’ work, the glory goes to both, the accident of creation not being the only way to get the reward/s.  The booking agent, the broker, the head of the insurance company that sets the rules for doctoring, they are first in line to have society shake their hand, lavish the praise on them.  The football player – what a contradiction!!!! – you player, suffer suicidally on the field.  The team Owner wins.  But the player had to get through  – They don’t all have to get through college, do they?

I can’t put up with professional sports.   They hurt me too hard.

“Producing broadly capable people”, who can best make profits for owners of the businesses these people are produced to enter – the robot-person, produced out of a machine – of schooling – to be the money-making machine.

I don’t have to mourn the routing of the pleasure of work and play into the path of profiting.  You know it.

The article goes on to conspire a process of preparing always, to serve in the profit system, discovering elements of living that were discarded as efficiency on the job – and in the home! – no loss of movement to casual disorder – As efficiency, time-saving was raised to the standard we now know.  Shop efficiently.  Cook efficiently – all those murderous prepared meals using those processed foods – processed to taste good by adding a flavor – not a flavor natural to the food; an artificial taste made from health defying combinations of extractions from once organic materials, thus named ‘natural flavors’ on the wasteful packaging.

Here’s a grand line from the article:  “Faculty at our colleges and universities, too, should form collaborations with K-12 educators. They also might reach beyond their own disciplines to join with colleagues across their campuses to provide the diverse perspectives required to tackle “grand challenges” such as global conflict or urban poverty. Meanwhile, government agencies needing students with advanced language skills and transnational expertise should work in new ways with universities to provide the necessary training.

“Especially amid the current budget battles in Washington, some may be tempted to dismiss these disciplines as a frill that’s fine for interested students to spend time with on their way to medical school or the corporate world, but hardly essential for landing a job in a tough economy. Those who actually run businesses and institutions, and whose cultural leadership help define our civilization, know this argument is wrong. Without broad training across the arts and sciences, they agreed, young people will struggle to thrive in a global economy or engage successfully in the demands of citizenship.”   We agree – they’re right – but for the wrong reasons, for the wrong methods.  The living, the natural reading literature, researching, comparing notes together, cleaning one’s spaces around them, dancing a while,  – all those were once part of how people functioned.  Then they were extracted for ‘efficiency’; and now put back for profit.  Mechanize the arts and sciences; put them onto the worker so they can do the job of getting The Rich to Mars as Earth become useless for most of us…

Humanities and social sciences matter, for everyone By Richard H. Brodhead, guest commentary © 2013 Bay Area news Group POSTED:  06/24/2013

With unemployment hovering above 7 percent and the United States facing challenges from Syria to North Korea, you might be surprised by the skills some corporate leaders and military officials say Americans now need to succeed in the global economy and political arena.

James McNerney, the CEO of Boeing, for instance, says his most successful engineers are not only technically proficient but also able to communicate and interact with people from divergent backgrounds. Karl Eikenberry, who headed U.S. military and diplomatic efforts in Afghanistan, speaks eloquently about the military importance of studying foreign languages, histories and cultures, and beliefs and ethical systems different from our own.

Even Norm Augustine, the longtime head of Lockheed Martin who led a celebrated 2006 National Academy of Sciences study that warned of a “gathering storm” in U.S. competitiveness unless dramatic improvements were made in sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics education, says STEM fields alone are an insufficient preparation for life.

All three men recognize that American prosperity and national security also require, with growing urgency, excellence in the humanities and social sciences. They were among the members of a national commission who recently warned of serious consequences if the United States doesn’t embrace these disciplines and act to strengthen them.

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators and representatives requested the report from our group, which was convened by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Its members ranged from business and academic leaders to filmmakers Ken Burns and George Lucas, musicians Yo-Yo Ma and Emmylou Harris, actor John Lithgow and retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter. I chaired the group with John Rowe, the retired CEO of the Exelon Corp.

Time and again, we heard from experts across a wide swath of American society that we collectively need to do a better job of producing broadly capable people who can live up to their personal potential and fill all the roles a complex world requires. This training must go beyond vocational and technical skills, providing a balanced, integrated education that includes the humanities and the social sciences alongside mathematics and the physical and natural sciences.

The humanities — languages, literature, history, jurisprudence, philosophy, comparative religion, ethics, history and arts criticism — tell our shared story as a culture and help us appreciate our commonalities and differences. The social sciences — including anthropology, archaeology, economics, political science, sociology and psychology — analyze the lives of individuals and societies, revealing patterns of behavior and interpersonal dynamics.

Together, these subjects offer an intellectual framework to understand our changing world, whether it’s turmoil in the Middle East, swings in the stock market or a cultural controversy in Hollywood. They teach us to question, analyze and communicate — skills that are critically important in shaping adults who can become independent thinkers and citizens.

Our report recommends expanding support for teaching the humanities and social sciences. More Americans need to learn foreign languages. Our museums, libraries and cultural organizations all might form new partnerships to foster lifelong curiosity and learning. A new Humanities Master Teacher Corps could assist classroom teachers.

Faculty at our colleges and universities, too, should form collaborations with K-12 educators. They also might reach beyond their own disciplines to join with colleagues across their campuses to provide the diverse perspectives required to tackle “grand challenges” such as global conflict or urban poverty. Meanwhile, government agencies needing students with advanced language skills and transnational expertise should work in new ways with universities to provide the necessary training.

Especially amid the current budget battles in Washington, some may be tempted to dismiss these disciplines as a frill that’s fine for interested students to spend time with on their way to medical school or the corporate world, but hardly essential for landing a job in a tough economy. Those who actually run businesses and institutions, and whose cultural leadership help define our civilization, know this argument is wrong. Without broad training across the arts and sciences, they agreed, young people will struggle to thrive in a global economy or engage successfully in the demands of citizenship.

An education aimed at cultivating these competencies cannot be reserved for an elite few. In our democratic society, the humanities and social sciences matter, for everyone.

Richard H. Brodhead, the president of Duke University, co-chaired the American Academy of Arts and Sciences commission.

normaha@pacbell.net

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Rankings don’t rank well when it comes to measuring school quality By Patrick Mattimore © 2013 Bay Area News Group Posted: 05/18/2013

Since U.S. News & World Report began ranking colleges 30 years ago, that magazine has discovered a niche in the ratings industry. USN&WR ranks careers, hospitals, businesses and world leaders, but the magazine’s biggest market has been its rankings of everything having to do with education — undergraduate institutions, doctoral and masters programs, and public high schools.
Of course, given the commercial success of USN&WR’s annual college rankings edition, competitors were bound to spring up. Fifteen years ago, Newsweek Magazine jumped into the fray by introducing the first national rankings of high schools.
Two weeks ago USN&WR released its best high school list and this week Newsweek and the Daily Beast published their annual high school rankings.
While it may be comforting to think that it’s possible to qualitatively compare educational institutions, the reality is that the major rankings are subjective evaluations based upon largely arbitrary classification schemes. The problem is that people often ignore the evaluators’ suspect methodologies and accept the ratings at face value.
For many years, Newsweek ranked high schools according to an index developed by Washington Post education reporter Jay Mathews. The Post continues to use the Mathews metric, in which schools are ranked based upon how many college-level tests the schools give. There is no attempt to evaluate how students perform on the tests, and many of the schools on Mathews’ most recent list received poor ratings from their own state boards of education. Many of the schools failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress under the No Child Left Behind federal mandates.
Mathews nevertheless defends his rankings because they encourage schools to challenge students — often beyond their capabilities — and because his rating formula is easily understood.
Without a clear performance measure, however, ranking a school by how many tests it gives is comparable to judging school quality by the number of colors of paint on its buildings or varieties of fruit offered in its cafeteria.
At face value, the USN&WR and current Newsweek high school rankings appear to do a better job than the Post.
The U.S. News rankings purport to measure the schools that are best at serving all their students and were derived in three steps. First, schools are evaluated as to whether their students perform better than statistically expected based on the economic mix of the school when compared with other schools in the state.
Second, schools are evaluated as to how their non-Asian minority populations perform relative to state averages. Finally, schools are judged based on how well they prepare students for college using results from the International Baccalaureate (IB.) and Advanced Placement (AP) exams.
Newsweek has modified Mathews’ formula, emphasizing what it calls the best indicators of college readiness: graduation rates, participation in college-level classes via AP and IB. programs, and acceptance into a two- or four-year college program.
The top-rated school nationally, according to the USN&WR rankings, is the School for the Talented and Gifted (TAG) in Dallas. TAG ranks fifth according to Newsweek and third on the Washington Post list. TAG is a magnet school — as are many of USN&WR’s, Newsweek’s and the Post’s top high schools — generally accepting only the smartest applicants. So, TAG and many of the “nation’s best public high schools” accept an economic and racial cross-section of academic all-stars.
Does that mean that TAG is a great high school or that others on the various lists are great? Not at all. None of the rankings attempt to measure students’ progress, so it’s impossible to know how the supposedly best high schools contribute to students’ growth.
Paraphrasing the famous aphorism about the first President Bush that he was born on third and thinks he hit a triple, the high schools on the various lists begin miles ahead of the game and are then judged as if they started alongside all other public high schools. Without a value-added measurement though, the rankings tell us nothing about how well the schools serve the students they’ve picked.
School rankings may sell magazines and newspapers and popularize websites, but no one should be fooled into thinking that they are good measures of school quality.

Patrick Mattimore taught high school in the Bay Area for many years and now lives in Thailand.
http://www.mercurynews.com/top-stories/ci_23272456/patrick-mattimore-rankings-dont-rank-well-when-it

About this newspaper article, I expect that you already come together knowing, having read any of the other pieces I’ve given you in this topic, that all of this is nonsense – not sensible – anyway. The first premise is that school is a good thing – or at least, repairable, or able to be upgraded to where it does serve us, the working class mass. You have gotten it, haven’t you, that school is one of the several adjusting institutions controlling us in the profit system, – adjusting us to fit the present enslavement construct – again, not chattel, but wage slave; – enslavement nevertheless. You can tell we’re the slaves. Everywhere, THey our Owners, kill or otherwise physically as well as mentally-psychologically control us to keep us doing what they need us doing; being employed in their service, or unemployed, – also in their service, we the army of the unemployed, – keeping wages down or incarceration numbers up, giving street-level wardens – as opposed to factory wardens, or boardroom keepers of THeir flame, boardroom wardens – in business.
Then, seeing this article by Mattimore, you’ve quickly agreed that the game of ranking is just those media mentioned serving our Owners’ interest, trying to make it appear they’re not only carefully evaluating an institution, but that it’s worthy of our consideration as a valuable one. You think the opposite of that. You know the schools are unable to be measured, and are not worth bothering measuring because they are a structure we altogether oppose.
You’ve chosen to support a full life for us all, with students, instead of separated from them; with our children – and our old people and otherwise differentiated groups of us in the capitalist system – WITH each other because we’re allowed to create structures that let us like and enjoy each other, learn and teach and study as part of living instead of in elitist-style, separatist institutions, including the job. The job is the result of what our Owners tell us is education. It too separates us. Doesn’t it… Even the person that does whatever work at home – when we’d really like to be places together, not age segregated, doing our necessary and pleasurable activities.

normaha@pacbell.net

 

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People create jobs for themselves by publishing the performance data they collect

Authorities are made by doing a research and getting it published. The writer gets a job – teaching, say, or some other job related to the publication. The published writing becomes to one degree or another, the authorized thinking on the topic.

In the case of creating people’s place in society, published materials arrange the structures we live in. Obviously I’m speaking in general here. These guarantees are not always, everywhere. But they are dominant in this arrangement where works affirming our Owners’ structures gain support; grants, work positions – teaching, or other positions. These pat the authority on the back and provide them the opportunity to carry out functions that maintain the status quo.

(In particular, people who write on ‘economics’ in ways that support capitalism get Nobel prizes! They separate ‘economics instead of as part of our lives, as separated from the totality. The word needs to reflect the wholly trinity, socialpoliticaleconomic. If any of us doesn’t have bread that is a result of what each of those parts of the word do to us social-political-economic. Economy is not a separate, self going part of life. It, like the social and political elements is produced by us, by people.)

So we’re told that 3 year olds, or 7yr olds, 16- , 40- 90 year olds do this’r’that. These observations fit ideas researchers want to substantiate. Their study produces a configuration that gets social respect and status for them.

It is a preposterous notion that anything but exceptions, except for the widest of generalizations, can honestly characterize us except to fit us into the niches the present structure needs us to fill. Doing this builds out the position the researcher wants to get, some recognized role in society.

Sad to say, sort of, doctors have become factory-line workers. Teachers at all levels have become temporary employees, fewer and fewer with guaranteed positions; let alone that teachers are forced out of the job because it’s horrendous. …and because the degradation of the teaching job includes its – like other jobs – replacement by robotic machinery.

The old secure positions that have been customary in capitalism, are fading more and more rapidly. It’s called degredation, carefully contrived so workers get less and less pay, less and less security, and are more and more bound in bondage if left at a job at all. Replacement by machinery takes jobs, too.

People who write philosophies of economics, that peculiar behavior that tells us what we do – what work we do, what shopping or selling, naming us consumers instead of human beings; those people are well rewarded. People who detail who benefits from this arrangement and by what mechanism, the profit-system, capitalism, go unrecognized, while the analysts who present capitalism as a structure that is independent of our control, that is just natural, like a tree growing, get prizes.

As well, the world is made to believe that the profit system equals democracy. Please cry when you see that. It’s fundamental to our oppression that we are to think this.

These all lead to our self deprecation, a vital tool to sapping worker strength. Not only do we depreciate ourselves. But we look on our neighbors, and they on us, as less worthwhile as well. Maintaining a strong working force counters capitalism’s mechanism essential to profit; labor must cost less and less in order for profit to hold and to continue to rise – the necessary goal of capitalism. Stasis in business means the Owner is losing power and control – can’t have that! Literally! The business Owner must constantly maintain their ascendance in order to ward off being ousted off the ladder – the chessboard – the playing field.

The researcher who finds over and over that the renowned profiteer is so brilliant at their effort, gets the rewards this system provides the go-alongs, …the outstanding go-alongs, the collaborators.

normaha@pacbell.net

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The Oct 2014 LoWV Candidates’ forum at the Berkeley Media Center and LoWV Smart Voter pages League of Women Voters

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-jO1XTOg4g The 1hour forum – click through de udder guys – unless you like imposing the agony of standard questions and answers on your frontal lobes… You’ll see I’m not so much answering questions as telling what needs to be said, ignoring those questions, which are only designed to stamp as acceptable and shore up the way things already are.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqHswg_35w4&feature=player_embedded#t=42 Just me for two minutes – excuse the unintentional off-the-shoulder blouse. My comments are better in the 1hour forum.

Just click on me, unless you like to suffer the agony of rationalization of acceptance of the system, as though it can be made worthwhile… http://votersedge.org/california/2014/november/berkeley-unified-school-district/candidates/school-director/9877-norma-j-f-harrison?jurisdictions=28.1.28-upper-ca.1000.28.28-upper-ca

normaha@pacbell.net

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