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education

Whatever form of education is inflicted on children, they will always find mythical or heroic figures to satisfy their imagination. If they do not have King Arthur and Peredur or Sigurd and Regin, they will content themselves with Donald Duck and Dick Barton. It may even be argued that the latter are healthier because they are more spontaneous and near to contemporary reality than Branwen the daughter of Llyr or Burnt Njal. But are they more real because they are more at home in our impoverished world? I believe the old myths are better not only intrinsically, but because they lead further and open a door into the mind as well as into the past. This was the old road which carries us back not merely for centuries but for thousands of years; the road by which every people has travelled and from which the beginnings of every literature have come. I mean the road of oral tradition. It may be that the changes of our generation, the increased speed of life and the mechanization of popular culture by the cinema and the radio have closed this road forever. But if so, those of us who remember the world before the wars have witnessed a change in human consciousness far greater than we have realized and what we are remembering is not the Victorian age but a whole series of ages — a river of immemorial time which has suddenly dried up and become lost in the seismic cleft that has opened between the present and the past. Christopher Dawson

But using cheap labor—and vulnerable labor—is a business practice that goes as far back as you can trace private enterprise, and unions emerged in response. In the universities, cheap, vulnerable labor means adjuncts and graduate students. Graduate students are even more vulnerable, for obvious reasons. The idea is to transfer instruction to precarious workers, which improves discipline and control but also enables the transfer of funds to other purposes apart from education. The costs, of course, are borne by the students and by the people who are being drawn into these vulnerable occupations. But it’s a standard feature of a business-run society to transfer costs to the people. In fact, economists tacitly cooperate in this. So, for example, suppose you find a mistake in your checking account and you call the bank to try to fix it. Well, you know what happens. You call them up, and you get a recorded message saying “We love you, here’s a menu.” Maybe the menu has what you’re looking for, maybe it doesn’t. If you happen to find the right option, you listen to some music, and every once and a while a voice comes in and says “Please stand by, we really appreciate your business,” and so on. Finally, after some period of time, you may get a human being, who you can ask a short question to. That’s what economists call “efficiency.” By economic measures, that system reduces labor costs to the bank; of course it imposes costs on you, and those costs are multiplied by the number of users, which can be enormous—but that’s not counted as a cost in economic calculation. And if you look over the way the society works, you find this everywhere. So the university imposes costs on students and on faculty who are not only untenured but are maintained on a path that guarantees that they will have no security. All of this is perfectly natural within corporate business models. It’s harmful to education, but education is not their goal. Chomsky: How America’s Great University System Is Getting Destroyed

Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world. Paulo Freire

But we also know that to be educated, the goal of it must be human liberation. A liberation enabling each of us to fulfill our capacity so as to be free to create within and around ourselves. To be educated to freedom must be evidenced in action, and here again is where we ask ourselves, as we have asked our parents and our teachers, questions about integrity, trust, and respect. Those three words mean different things to all of us. Some of the things they can mean, for instance: Integrity, the courage to be whole, to try to mold an entire person in this particular context, living in relation to one another in the full poetry of existence. If the only tool we have ultimately to use is our lives, so we use it in the way we can by choosing a way to live that will demonstrate the way we feel and the way we know. Hillary D. Rodham

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The final step in the history of education is the creation of universal public education. This is an expensive policy but its cost-to-benefits ratio in urban civilizations is so high that every developed country in the world has a system for universal public education at least through primary school, and in most it extends up through secondary school Many underdeveloped nations have universal primary school systems on paper, but in practice such schools don’t accomplish enough. Chris Crawford

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Today, Finnish teachers have more freedom and time to collaborate and innovate than they did in the past — without the burden of top-down accountability policies common to low-trust systems. Parents and politicians in Finland do not pity teachers or treat them like charity cases the way so many do in the U.S. They treat them like grown-up professionals with a very hard job to do. The lesson for America is obvious: No one gets respect by demanding it. Teachers and their colleges must earn the prestige they need by being the same kind of relentless intellectual achievers they’re asking America’s children to be. A lesson from the Finns about training teachers

Education is in dire straits, mainly not because of poor teachers and principals but because the privatization movement and the profit motive has infested education’s inner sanctums with greed and an ideology which justifies it. The result is actually poorer education due to higher cost, lack of coordination, politics, commitment to profit rather than a good education, and too often amateurs guiding it. The Education Cure

The idolatry of the written word has damaged our memories. The written word is not a substitute for memory, but a reminder of the spoken word as the sign that points to a created thing that ought to direct our consideration to the Creator. This examination of the idolatry of letters is not a plea to abandon the written word, for amongst many other extremely important things, the written word properly employed preserves the wisdom of the ages for generational recollection. Rather it is a plea to abandon the misuse of the written word. We must first recover an understanding of the nature of idolatry, technology and language. Then, we ought to revive a proper understanding of the purpose of the written word and return it to its rightful place subordinated to speech and to the properly ordered relationships between teachers and students. In doing so, we have a chance to recover a civilizing system of education. On the Idolatry of Letters

Concerning the written word in the public schools, it is estimated that the twenty-five million school children between the ages of twelve and seventeen in the United States will read 8,750,347,578,987 words in the year 2013. Never in history have so many words been read and yet so very little learned. These poor students are reading thirty times more words than the number of stars in the Milky Way. Due to the deleterious effects of the prolonged idolatry of letters, our children are participating in a futile exercise… On the Idolatry of Letters

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