Amorality 101 and the Military-Police-Finance State College

Where oh where have all the critical thinkers gone? Walmartization of schools WINS

It’s thirty years of consumer orgasm and vocational thinking, educating to push away anything good and deep and critically thought out, those great books and thoughts that distract one from making money, hand over fist, or struggling trying to do something in the social services. Americans proud of not needing all those courses on Swift, Alice Walker, Dickens, Neruda, all that history, all those cultural studies, all the human psychology and ecosystems fun stuff, all the Classics, voices of the people’s history, the reason for cultural studies in Arizona, New Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, anywhere the white conqueror has come in and ripped the bowels of the great politicians and wizards and storytellers of the original peoples. To rip the broken and syphilitic systems that have eviscerated tribes and languages and feasts and tributes to an amazing world before white man came in with steel, pulley, rope, shackle and pick, cross, star of David, cloak, rack, cachet of beads and tokens.

Yesterday, I tried carving a job with the alternative school up in a rural district north of Portland, in WA state. Old guy my age, 58, already thirty years in the system, retirement looming, all that fanfare of being one of the bureaucrats of education, he was there with students, all other teachers and support staff, female, and, wow, what a strange world, indeed. He could smell I was a cut above, a few cuts, really, and I was Willy Loman with a hundred chips on my shoulder, trying to sell him on why the students, the school, the entire district need someone like me, teacher, artist with working with young people, shaman, photographer, real mentor, connector, ready to get some fat cats to throw in money for amazing projects, especially on the edge, about to fall . . . freefall from the dead end end game of capitalism – hunched over ideas, clouded mind, broken ideas, disconnected thoughts, no harmony, no philosophy.

He was apologetic, talked about all the bullshit handed down from No Child Left Behind, the test-trippy-testing that is America – strip out the critical thinking and debates and freestyle writing, deep-six all the teaching across curriculum, team teaching . . . hell, get all those K12 students out and digging up the school yard, putting in greenhouses, fish farms, solar generated kilns, an entire sculpture garden and food deliveries for some retirement home, some crazy teacher looking at turning a Moped into a smoothie and ice cream churner, anything, oh, anything, even uploading the projects, those real learning projects with some hammering and sawing thrown in, tepees, yurts, making furniture, building for the homeless portable and durable bivouac shelters, or upholstering for old folks, all sorts of art made, music created, hell, why not a giant maze made with old pianos and some mallets thrown in and mobiles and just radical driftwood, and, shoot, invite the creeps at Nike, Adidas, all the other creeps of the CEO class, bring them in and show them how young people can create, develop, connect and learn.

This is not what America does – it’s a nanny state, in the schools, all these moms and women and very few men, and the kids want something more than learning the photocopy machine and how to do a spreadsheet and look up career paths on the bloody computer.

We have failed, failed so-so much, and so when the guy, the teacher looked at me, heard where I have been, what I can do, why two masters degrees is enough, and here I was hired on as emergency substitute to try and make some daily $129 for on-call sub duty, any job, any school in two districts, any situation.

We are not able bodied or able minded folk, so it all is a blur to people, who just complain that all the problems originate at the state level, those dictates and problems, and the federal level, so this fellow said his/her/their hands are tied up, and that the system is what it is, The Education System, and to just sink in, try a few things, reach a few kids, and pray . . . . But they — students — are not steeled and trained and educated to tackle a very cruel world. We have done more than malpractice as society – we have created a torture chamber from cradle to grave. The one hope, youth, activated, against the old, against the new, against the rulers, the controllers, we turn them into Hitler Youth for Consumption!

Fucking kids need shake rattle and roll education, real learning, real service to the community learning, throwing in to do all those tasks the community needs, and why not throw down some college fund for the youth when they do the volunteering, and make sure that they are absolutely connected to self, body, nature, and the community.

Fuck these bankers and insurance assholes who do nothing to promote real education, and fuck teachers who just hide in the shadows of retirement, in the paperwork Kafka hell, and fuck the parents who do not give a shit, who are shysters most of the week, and fuck the sentimental TV watchers.

No, this is not rant, or off the handle, or splaying language. There are real issues here, real pedagogy, and real flipping the classroom ethos.

So much more can be done with some few more millions and millions to make this next and next generation amazing people, connected, community directed, away from the hamster wheel of screw thy neighbor and make sure you have enough when the bucket is kicked.

Establishing community and city- and county-wide active organizers around education, around connecting all the businesses and all those big plots of land, all the people with extra stuff around, connect them and get those girls and boys retrofitting old sinks into beta fish tanks, terrariums, or fantastic sculptures, fountains. Get the kids’ radio station back up and running, the cable shows run and produced by kids . . . .

So, the education is so bad, and the people who are by-products of it, are culprits, cutthroats . . . . Deaf, dumb and blind, that’s what we have now, girting the main stem and the roots of a forest of potential thinkers and doers and solvers, who are ending up listening to the shit of the airwaves, the shit of the Netflix, all the degrading and racist and sexist and classicist mind sucking stuff, and just one big factory churning out snarky folk, cult of celebrity and be a player twirps, these kids in junior high ready to have that $200 a month phone and cable bill, ready to drive that new car and pay that $2500 a year insurance and ready for the Disney cruise, the five jobs and a vocabulary vapidly minimal and primed for the controllers and corporations to soft shoe into their mental, spiritual and financial lives.

Principals used to be of worth, used to be master teachers, these connectors, a resource, but now they are shills for software, bubble tests and promoting more compliance and control of behaviors. Teachers are feeling like frauds, bloviating for testing, micromanaged, broken down and blamed for everything, their dignity stripped and their ability to collectively bring change broken by hedge funders, the Bloombergs and Gates empires.

I always worked with students, letting them know that to be truly educated means asking all the wrong questions against authority. To be conscious that there are truths and wrongs. The ability and openness to being able to know why we have a duty to fellow men and women. Educated people understand consequences, have a sense of the precautionary principle, what sustainability means, what tragedy of the commons says about past and current cultures. Truly educated people know how to debate, have deep thoughts, question their own existence in the scheme of things, and want to know what the scheme of things is. Educated people know where we all came from, where we are now, and what a future looks like. A philosophy and deep regard for culture and community and democracy come from education, if it’s done right, away from the marketplace, away from the controllers and the TV Media Mindless Monsters.

Systems thinking, collective power and voice, what art means, how life is art, how art is nature, and how we all have anthropologies and an archeology of the soul. Educated people question and face down the power of the state, the corporation, the mob. Educated people know what moral imperatives are, and that committing the crimes of US Murder, Inc., is wrong, never justified and to be condemned. Self-respect is the key to educated people and understanding. Empathy and those universal laws that claim the family of man-woman-child and the rights of nature.

Instead, we have people wanting to flip homes, make hundreds of thousands on bilking mom and pop and kid and anyone, even charge for the vegetative state.

Look at this, from Democracy Now, this fellow living in the Jungle in Paris, from Kunar Afghanistan. Goodman asks Sidiq Husain Khil if he can be safe in Afghanistan:

I don’t think so. If I was safe there, I don’t like to live here in these tents. And I don’t like these, the high buildings, the beautiful countries. My country is my country. But, you know, I was not safe there.

Now look at this simple but highly important statement, and it needs repeating, thrown like spiked pie into the faces of a hundred thousand government leaders, into the faces of millions making money off of WAR:

I told you, you know, U.S. is just increasing the war. Actually, U.S. don’t want to finish the war. It’s their game. It’s the game of George W. Bush, Obama and all the European Union. They don’t want to finish that.

Amy Goodman: Why?

Sidiq Husain Khil: Because it’s on the—behind, there are their profits, their benefits. They are selling their weapons and using in the Islamic countries. This is the big point. How much they spend there? If they spend $100, they’re getting from there $1,000. They don’t care about the people who are dying there.

This is the language of truth, and Americans don’t hear it, they can’t, they have no capacity for empathy, no capacity for caring or how to understand the knowledge of this man who just wants back to his homeland, not the shit-storm that is the West with all the dead buildings, the shiny and chrome high rises and neon. Amy Goodman doesn’t riff with this, for sure, because she is on a journey of just looping the same story, the same trotted out experts, the same old same.

Here, Chris Hedges, in an interview with Alexa O’Brien who looked at the money trail to big colleges who are bought and sold for the National Security State, the militarization of minds, college –

Hedges: Well, we’ve seen accompanying this a withering away of the liberal arts and humanities, especially in many state schools, where whole departments–philosophy departments, language departments, University of Albany and others–have just been abolished and the university shifting increasingly, even the elite universities like Stanford and Harvard, to essentially vocational centers of some form.

And that’s very dangerous, because the death of the liberal arts, the death of the humanities is stripping people of the ability to step into other cultures, to challenge assumptions, to question structures. And like business schools, we have now seen–and I think your study, the study you and Bill did, has provided evidence of this–we are seeing schools become almost exclusively, or certainly predominantly, institutions that create systems managers, whether that’s directly for corporate power or for the arm of control that corporate power uses, which is the national security state, and all of those disciplines that don’t serve those vocational needs being shunted aside, or in some cases eradicated. And certainly with these online schools, they’re not offering liberal arts.

Paul Kirk Haeder has been a journalist since 1977. He's covered police, environment, planning and zoning, county and city politics, as well as working in true small town/community journalism situations in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico and beyond. He's been a part-time faculty since 1983, and as such has worked in prisons, gang-influenced programs, universities, colleges, alternative high schools, language schools, as a private contractor-writing instructor for US military in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Washington. He organized Part-time faulty in Washington State. His book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his autobiography, weekly or bi-weekly musings and hard hitting work in chapter installments, at LA Progressive. He blogs from Otis, Oregon. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.