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Old 08-13-2010, 02:01 AM   #1 (permalink)
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A lesson on education

I came across this video and thought you guys would like it.
Even though the speech is regarding the American education system, I think we can all learn something from what's being said here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9M4tdMsg3ts&feature=player_embedded#!

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The following speech was delivered by top of the class student Erica Goldson during the graduation ceremony at Coxsackie-Athens High School on June 25, 2010

Here I stand


There is a story of a young, but earnest Zen student who approached his teacher, and asked the Master, “If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen?



The Master thought about this, then replied, “Ten years.”

The student then said, “But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast – How long then?”



Replied the Master, “Well, twenty years.”

“But, if I really, really work at it, how long then?” asked the student.



“Thirty years,” replied the Master.

“But, I do not understand,” said the disappointed student. “At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?”

Replied the Master, “When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path.”


This is the dilemma I’ve faced within the American education system.

We are so focused on a goal, whether it be passing a test, or graduating as first in the class. However, in this way, we do not really learn.

We do whatever it takes to achieve our original objective.
Some of you may be thinking, “Well, if you pass a test, or become valedictorian, didn’t you learn something?

Well, yes, you learned something, but not all that you could have.

Perhaps, you only learned how to memorize names, places, and dates to later on forget in order to clear your mind for the next test.

School is not all that it can be.

Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is to get out as soon as possible.

I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers.

I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system.

Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination.



I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work.

But I contend that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker.

A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave.

I did what I was told to the extreme.



While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker.

While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment.

While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it.



So, I wonder, why did I even want this position?

Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost?

I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning.

And quite frankly, now I’m scared.


John Taylor Gatto, a retired school teacher and activist critical of compulsory schooling, asserts, “We could encourage the best qualities of youthfulness – curiosity, adventure, resilience, the capacity for surprising insight simply by being more flexible about time, texts, and tests, by introducing kids into truly competent adults, and by giving each student what autonomy he or she needs in order to take a risk every now and then. But we don’t do that.”

Between these cinderblock walls, we are all expected to be the same.

We are trained to ace every standardized test, and those who deviate and see light through a different lens are worthless to the scheme of public education, and therefore viewed with contempt.



H. L. Mencken wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim of public education is not “to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. … Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim … is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States.”


To illustrate this idea, doesn’t it perturb you to learn about the idea of “critical thinking?”

Is there really such a thing as “uncritically thinking?”

To think is to process information in order to form an opinion.

But if we are not critical when processing this information, are we really thinking?

Or are we mindlessly accepting other opinions as truth?


This was happening to me, and if it wasn’t for the rare occurrence of an avant-garde tenth grade English teacher, Donna Bryan, who allowed me to open my mind and ask questions before accepting textbook doctrine, I would have been doomed.
I am now enlightened, but my mind still feels disabled.

I must retrain myself and constantly remember how insane this ostensibly sane place really is.


And now here I am in a world guided by fear, a world suppressing the uniqueness that lies inside each of us, a world where we can either acquiesce to the inhuman nonsense of corporatism and materialism or insist on change.

We are not enlivened by an educational system that clandestinely sets us up for jobs that could be automated, for work that need not be done, for enslavement without fervency for meaningful achievement.

We have no choices in life when money is our motivational force.

Our motivational force ought to be passion, but this is lost from the moment we step into a system that trains us, rather than inspires us.
We are more than robotic bookshelves, conditioned to blurt out facts we were taught in school. We are all very special, every human on this planet is so special, so aren’t we all deserving of something better, of using our minds for innovation, rather than memorization, for creativity, rather than futile activity, for rumination rather than stagnation?

We are not here to get a degree, to then get a job, so we can consume industry-approved placation after placation.
There is more, and more still.
The saddest part is that the majority of students don’t have the opportunity to reflect as I did.



The majority of students are put through the same brainwashing techniques in order to create a complacent labor force working in the interests of large corporations and secretive government, and worst of all, they are completely unaware of it.
I will never be able to turn back these 18 years. I can’t run away to another country with an education system meant to enlighten rather than condition.

This part of my life is over, and I want to make sure that no other child will have his or her potential suppressed by powers meant to exploit and control.



We are human beings.

We are thinkers, dreamers, explorers, artists, writers, engineers.

We are anything we want to be – but only if we have an educational system that supports us rather than holds us down.
A tree can grow, but only if its roots are given a healthy foundation.
For those of you out there that must continue to sit in desks and yield to the authoritarian ideologies of instructors, do not be disheartened.

You still have the opportunity to stand up, ask questions, be critical, and create your own perspective.

Demand a setting that will provide you with intellectual capabilities that allow you to expand your mind instead of directing it.

Demand that you be interested in class.

Demand that the excuse, “You have to learn this for the test” is not good enough for you. Education is an excellent tool, if used properly, but focus more on learning rather than getting good grades.



For those of you that work within the system that I am condemning, I do not mean to insult; I intend to motivate.

You have the power to change the incompetencies of this system.

I know that you did not become a teacher or administrator to see your students bored.

You cannot accept the authority of the governing bodies that tell you what to teach, how to teach it, and that you will be punished if you do not comply.

Our potential is at stake.


For those of you that are now leaving this establishment, I say, do not forget what went on in these classrooms.

Do not abandon those that come after you.

We are the new future and we are not going to let tradition stand.

We will break down the walls of corruption to let a garden of knowledge grow throughout America.

Once educated properly, we will have the power to do anything, and best of all, we will only use that power for good, for we will be cultivated and wise.

We will not accept anything at face value.

We will ask questions, and we will demand truth.


So, here I stand. I am not standing here as valedictorian by myself.

I was molded by my environment, by all of my peers who are sitting here watching me.

I couldn’t have accomplished this without all of you.

It was all of you who truly made me the person I am today.
It was all of you who were my competition, yet my backbone.

In that way, we are all valedictorians.


I am now supposed to say farewell to this institution, those who maintain it, and those who stand with me and behind me, but I hope this farewell is more of a “see you later” when we are all working together to rear a pedagogic movement.

But first, let’s go get those pieces of paper that tell us that we’re smart enough to do so!


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Old 08-13-2010, 10:48 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: A lesson on education

That was a ration of nonsense. I wasn't brainwashed, nor indoctrinated. I could speak my mind freely as long as what I said didn't offend anyone. She ought to be ashamed.
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Old 08-13-2010, 12:30 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: A lesson on education

Actually she has some good points, though we are not brainwashed in the American public school system. The best one she made was in saying that the American education system teaches kids to be focused more on the goal than the learning. Personally I don't care about the goal all too much {if I graduate, I'm good} I mainly focus on learning, I learn and I'm good. Of course this focus on the learning has left me in a bit of a bind, for the most part I've cast aside things pertaining to school that do not further my learning, which is mostly homework. I should probably do my homework more often, I can pass on test scores alone, but it isn't fun just scraping by and passing by a marginal amount.

Damn it, maybe I should balance focusing on the goal with focusing on the learning involved.
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Old 08-13-2010, 04:59 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: A lesson on education

F1887:
Quote:
That was a ration of nonsense. I wasn't brainwashed, nor indoctrinated.
Mmmm, sounds like you may have taken what she was saying the wrong way.
I don't think she meant it as an insult to fellow students, nor to say that we are being 'brainwashed' and when you read this quote:
Quote:
H. L. Mencken wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim of public education is not “to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. … Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim … is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States.”
what I take away from that is that the education system is there to produce citizens who are desirable to the ruling class.

This is why they take young kids during the hours of the day that they are most receptive, to begin training those desirable citizens.
{I'm paraphrasing what a teacher said regarding the education system once - I'm looking for the video to show you guys}

DM:
Do the best you can.
The deck is stacked.

Focus on your goal while keeping that one eye on the path {what else can a person do?} but remember that you may have to alter your goals along the way.
I tell my daughters not to focus on becoming any one thing, but to be like a chameleon; change as the environment changes and remain flexible.

I know too many people who stayed focused on a particular goal and ended up working for minimum wages at the grocery store while holding 3 or 4 degrees/ certificates and all the student loan debt that comes with it.
They achieved their goals and found out it was a dead end all along.

As it turns out, the education system is a buyer - beware business just like all the rest.
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Old 08-16-2010, 03:25 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: A lesson on education

That was an interesting read. It's nothing new to me really but I think she expressed it well.

That being said I think Fenrir took that wrong. She's just pointing out how broken the education system is and how it teaches people to conform rather than question things. She even says this-
For those of you that work within the system that I am condemning, I do not mean to insult; I intend to motivate.
I assume that's aimed at teachers and staff but it applies to students too. She's not hating the players she's hating the game.


I'm gonna move this to chat for now unless a debate starts up. I don't think many people will be in favor of our current school systems but ya never know.
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Old 08-16-2010, 03:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: A lesson on education

Quote:
Originally Posted by fenrir1887 View Post
That was a ration of nonsense. I wasn't brainwashed.
That's the beauty of brainwashing, if you were brainwashed you wouldn't know, and if you weren't brainwashed, you'd actually be more inclined to think you were brainwashed, because your psyche would be intact, meaning that you would be able to feel suspicion regarding a potential brainwashing.

So maybe you were brainwashed.
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Old 08-16-2010, 03:08 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: A lesson on education

I'd like to comment, but the 'merican school system didn't learn me well enough to understand all her big words...

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Old 08-16-2010, 03:11 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: A lesson on education

DB:
Quote:
I'm gonna move this to chat for now unless a debate starts up. I don't think many people will be in favor of our current school systems but ya never know.
Thanks, DB.
Originally I was going to put it in chat but for some reason I thought it may be a hot topic and so put it in debate.

I suppose I should say that I'm all for education - but I'm against situations like the one I fell into:

Years ago, the British Columbia Provincial Government had an advertising campaign that claimed there were thousands of new Electronics/ I.T. jobs available and anyone who completed the courses would be guaranteed a 45, 000 a year job to start.

I only know two of my classmates who got jobs in the field at all, and one of them was working for $8/ hr.

Because of this, I see the whole thing as a scam put on by the Government and the schools that offered the requisite courses to make money on tuition fees.
Maybe I'm wrong, and the economy was ultimately to blame for the lack of jobs in the end, but it sure felt like a setup.



TMT:
Quote:
I'd like to comment, but the 'merican school system didn't learn me well enough to understand all her big words...

Your lack of education hasn't hurt you none {Paul Simon} - you got a studio album out, man -

You're in the bling - bling, ch - ching,
no one can stop you from doing your thing. {JG}

But now you got a whole new problem -
keeping lyrics down to Earth so normal people can solve 'em! {Ice T VI}

Last edited by RU Joe; 08-16-2010 at 03:24 PM..
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