Hoodwinked — Hook-Line-and-Sinker the School is Drowning

Shoot, yeah, ending another quarter teaching at another college, here in WA state, and, whew, of course the Chomsky’s and Giroux’s and Hedges of the world DO NOT get it.

Think of faculty in the trenches, working with youth, in my case, a whole load of high school students in a community college swap program called Running Start. We take juniors and seniors out of their high schools, they take college courses, and they get high school credit AND college credit.

You think it works well, uh? You think getting these young folk out of the high schools and into college classes is a win-win?

Common logic says, well, FIX the high schools. Keep the high schools as incubators, as places where students HAVE to interact, doing things face to face, and where experimenting and standards get going. Where special education rules, and where rich and poor kids mix, brown, black, Asian, whites, Native Americans.

Let them be kids, and let them grow gardens, build instruments, bake bread, grow algae, cultivate fish, learn to write, act, sing, play an instrument and leap over frogs.

But, no, this is not what happens. We are gutting the high schools of students who self-select to go to a community college in WA state (34 of them total), and we end up with more people drain in the high schools, including teachers who were hired on to teach Advanced Placement (AP) classes.

This is the folly of educational leadership punks, PhDs who are both limp minded and limp spined, who see a new app and a new software package as Nirvana, who have zero love of faculty, and who want the entire mess controlled with common cores, dumb-downing, testing, subjects made for the captains (fascists) of industry. “We need little worker ants. We need consumers. We need compliant ones. We need youth to accept the load of corporate control in order to carry forth with the project on a dying planet. We need agnotology. We need Doubting Thomases and Theresas when it comes to climate change. We need young people to be entertained to death, entertained into obsolescence. We need eyeball time on the iPad/iPhone/tablet, and we need the children to finally resist all face-to-face agency and interaction with people who might be called mentors, instructors, teachers, professors, coaches, guides, tutors.”

These young people, millennial types, even worry that their younger siblings “really have been taken over by social media and the Internet and Smart Phones and Tablets.”

These people, so-called institutional leadership laggards, oh they know what they are doing putting more and more high school students in the colleges. Kids are trying, but they are not up to college snuff, and the English Department I teach in, supposedly hip and aware liberal arts folk (not really at all), well, they are kettle holders, wanting all part-time teachers to follow common student learning outcomes, standardized essay formats, all the crap rammed down their MA and PhD throats over time. Follow the leader. Follow the worthless style books, the MLA, APA, Chicago Manual. They want essays so formulaic that even someone in the US Army writes better stuff, and believe you, I taught those functional illiterates.

I work with people who are aroused by commonness, who see students as threats, who have allowed parents and students to ride roughshod over us, the majority, the teachers, precarious, at-will.

I work with faculty who are zombies, who are leaches, who have fulltime and tenured positions but who are some of the most conservative, emotionally dead folk. They are products of their own self-importance, their own little fiefdoms, their delusions and their lock-step thinking.

They yawn goofy ideas about “literature,” but they are gutless, allowing students to complain we teachers into scrutiny-grade challenge-Yelping HELL.

Moldering minds, and the entire project is not just dumbdowned, adversarial toward youth, and abusive to the part-time majority teachers. There is, oh, how do I say this, a homogenization of group think, and my profession is seeing fewer males teaching, more males being called on the carpet for our attitudes, our loudness and our un-FEMININE ways of holding hands and helping student learn to learn.

This is a profession that has been feminized in the very bad sense of the word, you know, intellectually and spiritually feminized as we know amphibians are because of the muck we put out in our waste stream . . . akin to that  world of endocrine disrupters like chemicals, AKA, plastics that cause frogs to lose testicles, and young human males and females to delay or speed up puberty.

One giant high fructose corn syrup, BFA, pesticide experiment. I am not saying we can’t have males and females teaching together, but I am saying we CANNOT allow a profession to be feminized, artificially morphed males or males morphed into females. We need male and female role models, yet this profession I am in I see daily after thirty-one years turning into the banality of, well, bureaucratic bumbling and endless data mining and the next great retention thing.

The mess is there, as students in my class  — those majority who do not cave and who do not make major complaints – are neutralized, hardly informed, and living the confusion of a world where they are called the i-Generation, Generation Like, the Dumbest Generation Ever. These youth are digital natives, and their native status has made them completely blank, naïve, dead politically, neutralized history wise, and flagrantly set for a world of follow the boss work, work-work-work, and zoning out and learning the ways of cultural death with their Retailopithecus &  Consumopithecus Anthropocene status as the new evolving species.

So, Robert Hunziker’s  March 19th DV column, “The Climate of Neoliberalism” brings  up some interesting points, one of which is this idea that we are a very articulate world of complainers, tellers, autobiographical whizzes, the philosophers. We have great minds talk for us, and we sit on our thumbs and listen to author x and thinker y and great prognosticator z. We are talked-talked-talked to death.

Undermining the conditions of sustainable existence” is unfortunately what is occurring, and it’s in clear sight. But, there is nobody doing much of anything about it beyond rogue individuals writing articles, or people listening to intellectuals like Chris Hedges carry on about the pitfalls of capitalism or Noam Chomsky dissecting capitalism’s underbelly.

In truth, those intellectuals are prime examples of ‘public relief valves’ which satisfy pent up frustration, but that’s kinda where it ends, followed by polite clapping at the end of their public speaking events. Whereas, nobody does much of anything constructive about the problem other than listen to the philosophers of the day, similar to ancient Greece in many respects.

Similarly, Socrates, who was tried on charges of “corrupting the youth and of impiety and sentenced to death,” suggested that the very nature of democracy makes it a corrupt political system, which he could’ve easily labeled neoliberalistic democracy, assuming a leap in time to the present; his statement: “When they are given great power, their shallowness inevitably leads to injustice.”

As it goes, in today’s world, public insouciance registers within the halls of a bungling Congress, failing to address the most pressing issue of the times, which is a rambunctious out-of-control climate, instead, copping-out with declarations about some kind of nonsensical pseudo energy fix by drilling/fracking for energy independence. It’s confusing.

Someone like me, railing, rallying and reintroducing some sense of revolution and anarchy into the bones of youth, well, it is my death, my own obsolescence, since I fail to obey the masters of the mundane.

Young people today are clueless, and frightened, no gathering storm but a compliant flickering flame. I will talk and talk about this in a later column, soon, the Hannah Arendt banal and evil, now in the form of administrators, the Tyson’s (poultry tycoon), Gates,  Nike’s, Bezos of the world.

Arendt’s first reaction to Eichmann, “the man in the glass booth,” was — “nicht einmal unheimlich — not even sinister. The deeds were monstrous, but the doer … was quite ordinary, commonplace, and neither demonic nor monstrous.”

“… the phenomenon of evil deeds, committed on a gigantic scale, which could not be traced to any particularity of wickedness, pathology, or ideological conviction in the doer, whose only personal distinction was a perhaps extraordinary shallowness.”

“Could the activity of thinking as such, the habit of examining and reflecting upon whatever happens to come to pass, regardless of specific content and quite independent of results, could this activity be of such a nature that it ‘conditions’ men against evil-doing?”

Really, is there some other way we can move this society into THINKING, into the very act of pulling up stakes in this mindless capitalism orgy, this carnival of goo to eat, burn, smear, mainline, implode?

Are some of us teachers – and my days are as numbered as anyone in the trenches fighting the overlords of destruction – the conduits to the new way of thinking, considering what it means to be consumers, earth eaters, energy whores, lust, greed and gluttony pinned as regaled ribbons and medals on our withering chests?

So here we are, adjunct faculty flailing about inside the torture chambers of banal evilness. The stakeholders schlepping the junk of the computing kind.  In WA state, those community colleges that employ 8,000 adjuncts, well, they are underfunded by the state, and the leadership, those pukes with PhDs in Community College Leadership degrees (they actually have a PhD program to propagandize and Little Eichmann-ize these gutless wonders to lead schools they could never teacher in), they just let the system hemorrhage, fail to be creative, and turn school into a turnstile for job seekers being sucker punched by degrees like culinary arts and medical filing. This is the new normal. Full-time faculty lording over more qualified people called ADJUNCTS.

Then well we have to hear Chomsky, Herr Professor Chomsky, weighing in on academic workers, part-timers. Give me a break. How does this help us organize and fight the very people, both administrators/deanlets and faculty, who are emasculating the entire education system, turning it into a dumbdowned place where people teach themselves into silliness?

Chomsky is a little late to the party, here, on adjunctivitus, precarity, the entire at-will, part-time world of his own brethren. Some 10 or 20 years too late to the dance. CounterPunch

Meanwhile, the faculty are increasingly reduced to a category of temporary workers who are assured a precarious existence with no path to the tenure track. I have personal acquaintances who are effectively permanent lecturers; they’re not given real faculty status; they have to apply every year so that they can get appointed again. These things shouldn’t be allowed to happen. And in the case of adjuncts, it’s been institutionalized: they’re not permitted to be a part of the decision-making apparatus, and they’re excluded from job security, which merely amplifies the problem. I think staff ought to also be integrated into decision-making, since they’re also a part of the university. So there’s plenty to do, but I think we can easily understand why these tendencies are developing. They are all part of imposing a business model on just about every aspect of life. That’s the neoliberal ideology that most of the world has been living under for 40 years. It’s very harmful to people, and there has been resistance to it. And it’s worth noticing that two parts of the world, at least, have pretty much escaped from it, namely East Asia, where they never really accepted it, and South America in the past 15 years.

And another technique of indoctrination is to cut back faculty-student contact: large classes, temporary teachers who are overburdened, who can barely survive on an adjunct salary. And since you don’t have any job security you can’t build up a career, you can’t move on and get more. These are all techniques of discipline, indoctrination, and control. And it’s very similar to what you’d expect in a factory, where factory workers have to be disciplined, to be obedient; they’re not supposed to play a role in, say, organizing production or determining how the workplace functions—that’s the job of management. This is now carried over to the universities. And I think it shouldn’t surprise anyone who has any experience in private enterprise, in industry; that’s the way they work.

Look, I am not trying to upset the Chomsky cart, and Chomsky has a good critique here on some things, but really, adjuncts have been writing and conferencing and organizing and protesting around these issues for 30 years. Chomsky is not some soothsayer or even clairvoyant here.

He is maybe rarified, not really dealing with our reality, dealing with the bulk of humanity, all those millions of high schoolers and those college students, not the MIT brand, but the everyday brand, those very ones that have faulty families, subsidized federal hot lunches, who see the horizon before the sun comes up and they hit the road after it sets. Parents foreclosed upon, the wicked heavy burdens of their own special needs, their parents’ dysfunctions, families fractured by a sociopathic economy, media, government.

I don’t know what Noam sees or hears, but his little foray into the adjunctivitus world, well, cte at best?

What is this going to do for us? This is a literati tribe he belongs to, traipsing with words, concepts, grand connections made here and there, pretty acutely and with great acumen . . . . But this goes nowhere, because the power brokers, the very leaders in our own field of education, they don’t think, don’t plan for the inevitable – turning education and educators and the learners into commodities, deliverers, consumers. Force-fed this shit, and then given a spiritual enema, and, bang, here we are now, the schools, the kids, the struggle, the very sad fact that youth are pigeon holed, drawn down, and are shadows of their own potentials.

So, I sign off, getting back to the mad rush of grading, communicating with students via email, via the on-line communication tool, Canvas, another on-line computerized tool to make me work longer days, sometimes 24/7, with, err, no pay raise in sight. Count that at $9 an hour after all my work is tallied up — with two master’s degrees and 30 years experience. Where’s my tin watch and leaky fountain pen at retirement?  Students who are trying, throwing down in a college composition class, a field that is almost dead, ce la vie, adios, hasta la vista, baby. They are trying, lifted out of the rut that is public education run by pencil pushers, bean counters and misogynists and emasculators. Amazing how many of my Running Start students have signed chastity pledges  forced upon them in their abstinence-only sex (sic) ed (sic) classes all mandated by that feminized crew in PK12. AMAZING.

Flat earth believers, young earth learners, war is peace, lies are truth products of a molding media that have gone on for 30 years with their upsidedown world of factualless flea breeding. They try, my students, coming at me with attempts around big research papers on, oh, NSA spying, rape culture, climate change, sixth mass extinction, impacts of social media on youth, and other topics like addiction as disease and obesity in youth. Some of these 17 year olds had never heard of the One Percent and We Are the 99 Percent meme. Some had never heard of ocean acidification. Some had never heard of Kevin Bales and the new slavery. Most have never finger painted or jumped onto a tramopline. All products of a white, soulless teach to the test formative life.

Chomsky pines, reels, and grandly articulates political-economic and sociologic theories, and the chorus listens, wrings hands, smiles and affirms the news, the placating of this drone of a country, a globe weeping, floating in the gyre of corporate and fascist neoliberal policies.

Paul Haeder's been a teacher, social worker, newspaperman, environmental activist, and marginalized muckraker, union organizer. Paul's book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years (now going on 17 years) of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. Read (purchase) his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Here's his Amazon page with more published work Amazon. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.