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Schooling As An Instrument Of Oppression

Discussion in 'Education Policies' started by Agnapostate, Feb 9, 2009.

  1. Agnapostate

    Agnapostate New Member

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    Modern schooling functions as an instrument of oppression due to its compulsory, hierarchical, and authoritarian nature. Numerous theoreticians of the most diverse political perspectives are united on this fact.

    For instance, we might consider the perspective of socialists Bowles and Gintis in Schooling in Capitalist America: Educational Reform and the Contradictions of Economic Life, in which they argue that the hierarchical subordination of students inherent in schooling is designed to indoctrinate students so that they might conform to the hierarchical subordination of labor under capital later in life. The libertarian socialist (and indeed, the Marxist) is able to recognize the role of this form of hierarchical schooling in preparing students for the similarly hierarchical workplace and weakening the working class so that they may score few victories in class conflict.

    If we are displeased with the perspective of socialists, we might consider the perspective of classical liberals. (Described as "libertarians" in modern American political circles.)

    For instance, this is the perspective of Sheldon Richman of the Cato Institute.

    http://www.school-survival.net/arti...s_Maybe_the_Schools_Are_Working_Just_Fine.php

    What's most striking is that whether it comes from the perspective of socialists (Bowles and Gintis) who condemn authoritarian schooling as preparing students for entry into a hierarchical and inefficient capitalist workplace that's rank with principal-agent problems or the perspective of capitalists (John Taylor Gatto, the aforementioned Sheldon Richman of the Cato Institute) who condemn schooling as preparing students for rigid obedience to state mandates, all agree that it functions as a tool intended to create conformity to an oppressive environment.

    I've posted this crooked graph (I fail at image scanning) before, and defenders of compulsory, authoritarian schooling have said little to discredit it. It is an illustrative example of how the expansion of compulsory schooling served to eliminate youth competitors from the labor market during the Great Depression.

    [​IMG]

    We should observe that the number of white males aged 16 in school prior to 1930 and beyond exceeded that of the number of white males aged 16 that were working, but not by a substantial amount. In the early 1930's, however, with more than a quarter of the population unemployed due to the Great Depression, the government was successful in passing legislation largely eliminating youth from the formal workforce, eliminating them as a source of competition for the multitudes of unemployed workers. Previous attempts to do this, such as the Keating-Owen Child Labor Act of 1916, were declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. (See Hammer v. Dagenhart.) But this process was renewed once the Depression was in full swing through measures such as the 1933 National Industrial Recovery Act, which set a minimum working age of 16 in many industries. This second attempt to expand the Commerce Clause was again declared unconstitutional in Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States. Not to be deterred, several components of the 1936 Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act included federal guidelines prohibiting "child labor." The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 was the final nail in the coffin, and essentially established the current working age of 16.

    A quotation of Lawrence A. Cremin, author of American Education: The National Experience 1783-1876, is in order:

    Since we've identified the oppressive function of modern schooling, what are our solutions? I'd personally favor a framework of unschooling and autodidactism (self-directed learning) in conjunction with the establishment of libertarian forms of education, for example, schools that are democratically managed by their students. For instance, we might refer to Summerhill School, in which the school functions as a democratic community managed based on consensus from students.
     
  2. dahermit

    dahermit New Member

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    As a retired former teacher who ended up babysitting rather than teaching because the students acted with complete impunity, I have not observed any meaningful, '...oppressive function of modern schooling..." Furthermore, the suggestions for solutions in the school system in which I was employed, if followed, would lead to an even more dysfunctional result than which I observed. If it were truly operated on consensus from the students I observed, there would only be time for sex, drugs, and alcohol. Children are not adults, children are not naturally burdened with any sense of responsibility. I find little in the article with which I can agree.
     
  3. Agnapostate

    Agnapostate New Member

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    Widespread youth addiction to vice is largely a myth manufactured by the mass media. Drug crises, for instance, primarily exist among older generations rather than youth, though the latter is more commonly scapegoated by the media and punditry. As to sexual issues, rampant teenage promiscuity is largely the stuff of myths, exacerbated by overhyped and nonsensical "reports" of oral sex epidemics and rainbow parties, as well as misinformation regarding the alleged economic costs of teenage pregnancy. When it comes to alcohol, underage drinking and alcohol-related problems are decreasing, and in my view, the U.S. would do well to look to the European experience with alcohol, in which moderate consumption is introduced to youth at a young age. Thus, moderate alcohol consumption is more widespread than in the U.S., but binge drinking is far more prevalent in prohibitionist America.

    Regardless, if you find that democratic input from students would destabilize the school system, one wonders whether they're really prepared to learn much from it in the first place, as well as whether this apparent immaturity is itself a cost of school indoctrination. Summerhill School, for instance, continues to operate smoothly and function democratically, likely because student input is valued from young childhood. As to unschooled youth, I think you'd find that they're far more well-educated and intelligent than their peers in the formal schooling system, a fact well summarized by Colin Roch, a 12 year old unschooler who declared, "Comparing me to those who are conventionally schooled is like comparing the freedoms of a wild stallion to those of cattle in a feedlot."
     
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