Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Public School Perhaps for Thee, but Certainly Not for Me

Right before I turned five (meaning I wasn't even in kindergarten) one of my parents gave me a pencil and a pad. I started scribbling, because I desperately wanted to make a word. I didn't know why it was so important to me. I still don't.

When I showed my pad to my father, he said one of the words looked like "deer" (or perhaps "dear." I remember feeling awe. Now as to why I felt such awe over (maybe) making a word I also do not know.

Then I started kindergarten. It wasn't that bad, which means it wasn't that good. I don't have that many memories, but most of the are not that pleasant. After kindergarten, I remember first grade, when I was taught to read.

We used the "Dick and Jane" readers, and to this day I vividly remember how disappointed I was at how inane and vapid those stories were. Awe over making a word and intense disappointment when those words were put together to make stories. And it certainly put me off of reading, or being interested in stories, until I was about 11.

After the first grade, I don't remember anything until the fifth grade. I don't even remember that much from fifth grade. I do remember sixth grade, but very little of it good. I do know that from kindergarten to the sixth grade I have mostly memories of bad things and very few of good things.

Middle school - seventh grade - was hell. I didn't expect that at all. It was like walking off a cliff I didn't know was there. Eighth and ninth were okay, and in high school I sleep-walked through school and partied on weekends - which was a blast.

Then I graduated.

Looking back on my public school career, for all practical purposes I could have dropped out in the first grade.

The word "education" means "to draw out." Draw out what? That which is already there. Our inborn talents. But does it do that? For some, yes. For most, no. For many kids of a certain temperament, the public schools are about trauma, not education, not socialization.

I don't exactly remember when the thought occurred to me, but I decided public schools were machines, and students were cogs, and we were supposed to be stamped out as identical parts. But since people aren't machines, not even cogs, it has never worked very well, and it's working even worse now.

When I was in college (these days close to worthless) one of the classes I remember most vividly was an English class in which we were informed about the Machine State vs. the Natural State. I have found I can apply those themes to almost everything, which is why I refer to public schools as machines trying to stamp out cogs and rob us of our humanity.

I did get semi-educated, though. It involved my wandering around on weekends by myself at the age of 12, looking at things and then checking out books from the library to find out, for an example, why ants, who have no brains, were able to build complex societies.

In other words, I was outside, in nature...the Natural State.

The theme of the Machine State vs. the Natural State got started during the Industrial Revolution, specifically in England. Horrible things were done to people, all in the name of money and power. For one, there were the Enclosure Acts in England, which people were forced off their land by the State (i.e. the military) so they would have to work in the factories (which William Blake referred to as "Dark Satanic Mills").

Then there were the Clearances in Scotland, in which people were burned off their land. All of this was done by the State (and the police and the military) so people would have to spend their lives being Cogs in the Machine.

Because of those things (and others) I years ago decided the Purpose of the State is to Turn You Into a Machine. Public schools are part of the State, as are militaries and the police.

If you want to see some movies about the Machine State vs. the Natural State, try The Elephant Man or Star Wars. Darth Vader is a bureaucratic example of the Machine State (the Empire) and the Ewoks represent the Natural State. Or try The Lord of the Rings (would you really want to live within range of the Eye of Sauron or deal with those expendable Cogs-in-the-Machine known as Orcs?).

So logically (and inescapably) the bigger the State, the more you lose your humanity as the State attempts to reduce you to a replaceable cog, just like the members of the Borg. The bigger the State, the bigger the military, the more powerful the police, the bigger the corporations...the worse it gets for you.

I understand why so many people are deserting the Machine, going rural, pulling their kids out of public schools, dumping the corporate rat race, becoming as self-sufficient as possible. Because they want to be free. So they can breathe.

The Machine doesn't understand this, and it never will. Sooner or later (as always happens) the Machine will grind to a halt. When that day comes (and I don't think it's that far off) people should be prepared for it.

Now that I think about it, I did learn something very important from public schools. Stay far way from them, and anything else to do with the Machine.

1 comment:

Amy said...

I was in Catholic school until 10th grade, then in public school. I had a first-rate education and was always a good student, but once in high school, I just stopped being interested in school. My interest in learning has never gone away, but after awhile, school just wasn't serving my curiosity or ability.

I wandered the woods, learned to paddle a canoe and build fires in the rain and bake bread and cook gourmet food. I read widely of philosophy, classic fiction, sci-fi and fantasy, history - and I had no one with whom to discuss the interesting things I was learning. None of my peers cared and the adults in my life were too busy to care or help me figure out if/where I was going wrong with a point or line of reasoning.

Ah, well. Public schooling does exactly as you describe: makes one a cog in the machine rather than a naturally developed individual. Some people seem to think that if you shun technology you are essentially saying you want to live in a tipi and suffer disease and privation. There is a fear that if control of others is relinquished, we'll have utter chaos and destruction.

Even iron fists have cracks, and the tighter they squeeze, the more people will slip through their fingers. Of course, we can hasten that by finding the cracks and leaving through them before the squeeze. Getting back to nature in a very literal sense is a start, getting out of public schools is a great step towards liberation.