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David Cromwell excels at identifying key points of friction between public and private interests. In this excerpt he examines how higher learning is being bent to fulfil its corporately mandated responsibilities to society.
“This [Academia] is a privileged sector where critical thought and enquiry into human society, the natural world and the cosmos ought to be the norm; not where overwhelming pressure to conform to state-corporate interests should be exerted on teaching and research agendas.
How can academic ‘collaboration’ with large corporations which are, after all, centralised systems of illegitimate power, not lead to compromise, distortion or worse? It is clearly not in the interests of such institutions to promote rational and honest study into the problems of a corporate-shaped society. It is in their interests to commandeer the publicly-funded research while co-opting supposedly neutral and objective academia as ‘partners’. And all the better if highly trained university researchers working in narrow, focused disciplines remain disconnected from the interests in other disciplines, or more importantly, from the concerns of the general populace.
‘To work on a real problem (like how to eliminate poverty in a nation producing eight hundred billion dollars’ worth of wealth each year) one would have to follow that problem across many disciplinary lines without qualm, dealing with historical materials, economic theories, political obstacles’, observed historian Howard Zinn, author of The People’s History of the United States, who died in 2010. ‘Specialisation ensures that one cannot follow a problem through from start to finish. It ensures the functioning in the academy of the system’s dictum: divide and rule.’ Zinn provided a potent example: ‘Note how little work is done in political science on the tactics of social change. Both students and teacher deal with theory and reality in separate courses; the compartmentalisation safely neutralises them.’
Any management vision of how the university sector, or any place of higher education, ought to develop that does not recognize the nature of the iniquitous capitalist society in which the university finds itself embedded, is short-sighted. And, moreover, any such ‘vision’ that is not committed to making radical changes in the way society is structured is tacitly, if not actively, supporting the status quo. The same argument applies to any major institution in society.”
-David Cromwell. Why Are We The Good Guys? pp. 216 – 217
So, great you have a degree, well done sport! Did they teach you to comply or to question the society that you inhabit?
Well, it is nice to know I have a little job security. :)
Religion doesn’t just happen in the 21st century in the West. Religion must be instilled into children, magic and fable must be taught to be revered and most darkly, the fear of eternal punishment must be enshrined in young minds.
Hell for children is a very real fear – it torments their thoughts and causes a great deal of unnecessary anxiety. My question to the religious is simply this:
Why make your children fearful?
Isn’t there enough to worry about life with regards to food, shelter, and security to add another imaginary layer of anxiety to the mix? Is that a responsible action to take as a parent?
Of course it isn’t.
Being afraid for yourself is not a great motivator for ethical action, and yet that is the implicit lesson that resonates through so much of religious teaching. Consider also how the fallacy inducing mode of binary thinking is encouraged and reinforced. You are good with Jebus and bad the the Devil… etc. Serious ethical actions and thoughts require moving past that first easy binary of good and evil because almost every encounter we have as individuals in society is a mixed bag of ethical and unethical choices and behaviours.
Stating moral relativism here always leads to the conclusion that somewhere down the line – anything and everything will be permissible. Given that the last 1700 hundred years or so of religious dominance in the field of ethical behaviour I would have to say that absolute morality path isn’t exactly a slam dunk either, as far as worthwhile moral systems are concerned.
I’m always here on Sundays giving both barrels to religion and its antiquated notions of how the world is – seldom do I offer what I would like to see happen instead of the religious tomfoolery so easily demarcated and dispatched.
The vision I have is one that requires a society that understands how ill equipped our species is for rational, logical thought. Bearing that in mind no expense must be spared to raise children in a safe, welcoming, and stimulating environment in which the only worry they will have is what new thing they will learn after lunch.
How far off is this goal?
Too damn far away. Every time I’ve been called to a kindergarten or pre-k class some of the children there have come to school hungry. Nothing defeats curiosity and learning like an empty belly. Too many times I’ve been empty handed at lunch, because I’d already distributed my lunch to other children, yet there was yet another to feed. (Don’t worry we always find something).
I need my society to realize how important it is for all children to have the basics of life taken care before I can start helping them explore and comprehend the world around them.
Bringing this back to religion and the insecurity it supposed to soothe – how about some more focus on doing ‘good works’ rather than all the political nonsense currently dominating the religious sphere. How awesome would it be to have another volunteer (religious or not) in every classroom there to support learning and socialization?
There are so many ways to help children. The problem being that the outlay of time and emotional investment (for both the secular and religious) is prohibitive; and that, sadly, is structural feature of society.
Further breaking news: The Edmonton Public School Board will also remove Soylent Green Recipe Book from the Foods curriculum.
How does feculence like this happen in my school system?
“An Edmonton teen and her mother have filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission over a high school sex education class delivered by a religious-based group. Last year, Emily Dawson, 18, took part in a two-day class delivered as part of the Career and Life Management course at McNally High School. The teenager says she was shocked by what she heard.
“Basically shaming the girls and making them gatekeepers and meanwhile making it sound like the boys had no impulse control,” she said.
The Edmonton Public School Board used the Pregnancy Care Centre to conduct the course. The centre is affiliated with Care-Net, an American based anti-abortion movement. Both groups focus on advocating abstinence from sex.
How many other little “whoopsies” does the EPSB have up its sleeve? The NRA about the value of gun control and firearm safety? Exxon on Environmental Stewardship?
What the crap?
First, lets establish what our Experts in Christian Misogyny are advocating. From Care.net –
“Care Net promotes and supports sexual abstinence until marriage among youth through its LifeWise Program. LifeWise services are available free of charge to churches, schools, and any youth-serving organizations. Care Net will also partner with parents to provide neighborhood programs in homes or at Care Net’s facility on the east side of Madison.
Care Net works to end abortion, not primarily through political action but by building a culture where every woman receives all the support she needs to welcome her child and create her own success story. By empowering women and men to make courageous, life-affirming choices, Care Net and our affiliate pregnancy centers end abortions every single day.”
Well, isn’t this just a “Grade-A” glistening block of bullshit on display. They also run Pregnancy centres to hoodwink traumatized women and baffle them with religious bullshit and obstruct them while they attempt to obtain a legal medical procedure.
What a charming bunch of folks, god bless their hearts, we are dealing with here.
So, let’s take a look at the facts of the matter just to show exactly how full of shit our christian care.net friends are and the poisonous message they brought into the Edmonton public school system.
The Failure of Abstinence-only Education: minors have a right to honest talk about sex. – Published in: Sexuality and the Law Symposium, Columbia Journal of Gender and Law Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 12-62, 2006.
“Abstinence-only sex education is anything but educational. At best, it deprives students of the knowledge necessary to manage their own sexual health. At worst, it is dangerous to minors and to the public health. As the Waxman Report concluded, “[s]erious and pervasive problems with the accuracy of abstinence-only curricula may help explain why these programs have not been shown to protect adolescents from sexually transmitted diseases and why youth who pledge abstinence are significantly less likely to make informed choices about precautions when they do have sex.”18 In a society that purports to value children, the state should foster healthy, informed minors who are equipped to manage their sexual health responsibly. At the very least, the state should not encourage or support educators and programs in misleading children and promoting false, dangerous, and potentially injurious practices.”
“In light of the potential health risks associated with these curricula, abstinence-only education cannot be justified as intending to serve any significant state interest. While the government may have an interest in encouraging abstinence in unmarried youth, its current policy is being pursued at the expense both of truth and public health. Importantly, there is no evidence that providing comprehensive sex education promotes increased sexual behavior or dilutes the message that abstinence is a preferable choice, as proponents assert.250 Furthermore, the government’s singular focus on abstinence represents an educational policy that is inconsistent with the democratic educational objective of preparing adolescents to make responsible, informed choices.”
More on efficacy of Abstinence only versus comprehensive sex education.
“Using figures from 1995-2000, Advocates for Youth (www.advocatesforyouth.org) reports that the HIV rate for Americans 15-24 is five times that of German youth of the age. The U.S. teen syphilis rate is six times higher than the Dutch; the chlamydia rate is 20 times that of French teens; and our teen gonorrhea rate is a whopping 74 times higher than the Dutch.
European programs that provide uncensored sex education and promote condom use are the reasons for this success. Contrary to what one might expect, European youth have fewer sex partners than Americans do and begin sex slightly later than Americans. What is alarming, however, is that America has the largest percentage of girls who have sex by age 15.
The U.S. also has the highest teen birth rate among 28 developed countries. According to a UNICEF study, less than 10 per 100,000 teenage girls in Korea, Japan, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Sweden gave birth in 2001, whereas 52 American teens per 100,000 did.”
More on the failure of Abstinence Only Education – Here, Here, Here, here… Let us conclude then that our dear Christian Misogynists are the engineers of the fail-train; happily throwing more coal into the fire as they move full speed ahead and with Jesus and Ignorance at their side, they are unstoppable.
We should get back to Kelly and Emily and their experience with these professional dispensers of mendacity.
Kathy Dawson says she tried to pull her daughter Emily out of the class for the second day. But she says the school informed her that Emily had to take the class in order to pass her course. So she joined her daughter in the classroom. A single mother, Dawson said she was shocked what students were told about families like hers.
“Well, that our children are prone to depression, suicide, juvenile delinquency,” she said.
The remarks also surprised her daughter. “It’s not something that you hear every day where you’re getting bashed for being in a single-parent home.”
Kathy Dawson was also upset the class appeared to focus on values instead of science.”
See. Seeeeeeeeee?!? This is what happens when you let this sort of religious malevolent altiloquence into the secular classroom. Shaming single parent families, fuck-ya god hates you – and lets not forget about the eternally burning homosexuals…
“I have a friend that is a lesbian and she was asking what would happen if she didn’t want to stay abstinent and then the educator said, ‘We’re not here to talk about that,’” Dawson said.
Yes, telling young children that they’ll burn seems a little out of place in Canada (and the norm for secular societies), so we’ll just ignore your question instead. The nice people at Care Net are so full of love, tolerance, and compassion.
Full marks to Kathy Dawson for taking action to get these people out of the school system.
The Alberta Human Rights Commission has now accepted the Dawsons’ complaint.
“I’m training up my kids to respect science and demand science in their education,” Kathy Dawson said. “So this is a long haul, and I’m fully prepared to take it all the way.”
This is pretty much a slam dunk. Is religious bunk allowed in the classroom? Yes/No If the answer is yes, then the leaders of secular school board will have some explaining to do.
The EPSB took action –
the EPSB wrote that it had a registered nurse observe one of the presentations unannounced and found the information “met our standards and expectations on every level” but that it would still look for new presenters for the next year.
“Having said that, we’ve heard a lot of concerns expressed from the public over the last several days about guest speakers invited to present on the topic of sexual health education,” the board wrote.
“We are asking our schools in the fall to use different presenters so that we can continue this conversation, and focus on meeting the needs of students and parents.”
Well the school board doesn’t have its head entirely up its ass. Woo!
Tragic accidents happen.
“A multimillion-dollar lawsuit has been launched by the parents of a student who almost died after being strangled by a lanyard at his school in Bearspaw just west of Calgary.”
You don’t sue people for not thinking of every possibility that might happen. If this isn’t the case , I look forward to our children being encased in foam for their protection and certainly not using potential hazardous materials such as pencils or pens.
Go read The Bowl, the Ram and the Folded Map:Navigating the Complicated world by Elodie Under Glass. It is fine narrative post with plenty of interesting bits and sheep! It is wool worth your while. However, these paragraphs in particular, caught my educational eye as they articulate not only what happened to me, but what I see happening to those I teach.
“Science is traditionally taught by blowing the minds of students who struggle to understand the workings of pepper grinders, and leaving them to pick up the pieces for themselves. The students then reassemble the fragments of their minds incorrectly, retaining the sexy and surprising bit, and filling in the rest of the gaps with porridge before going out into the world and smugly misunderstanding everything they see in it. Naturally, what they observe in the world does not match the porridge in their heads. Sometimes the students reassess their minds and realize that the world is infinitely more complicated than porridge and that most of their education was a series of easy lies, in which case they are usually doomed to be writers or scientists. Conversely, if they insist that the world actually matches the composition of their porridge, such that the observable world is wrong, then they will go on to be successful and influential.
This is why people still insist that evolutionary biology underlies gender theory, and why they genuinely and honestly think that seasons are caused by the Earth’s elliptical orbit moving it closer to the Sun.
(it seems that there is a certain type of historical accuracy that only makes sense if it matches a historically inaccurate picture of the world.)”
My university days were long, dark, and cold. Socially meh, but then again social has always been on the “meh” side for me. Let’s use the term “methodical” to describe my educational experience, as in, I need “x” coursed to get “x” educational degree so I can get teach students stuff they are not interested in learning. I graduated in 1999 taking the seven year approach to a 4 year program, coming out the other side with bright shiny knollege!!! coupled with important educational ideas and lofty notions of helping children reach their collective potentials.
All of which came crashing down around my head with my very first desk being tossed in my general direction by an angry student one day. Backstory first. Ever the romantic, I took the subjects that I was interested in during my University tenure: Philosophy, History and Psychology and some English because I needed a minor.
My first teaching gig? In areas where I knew stuff? Hardly. It was a week at a school/ranch in rural Alberta specializing in troubled boys who, let me assure you, are not one bit interested in learning what I had to offer. I learned very quickly that the primary attribute required for teaching was patience, coupled with a side of patience then with some patience sprinkled on top, finishing with a delightful dollop of patience for dessert. Behavioural education is a bit of a different beast than the regular educational stream. Less focus on the traditional curriculum but much more focus on character and routine building and other humanizing activities.
I’m disgusted with what people do to their children. The experiences of frustration, anger, and pain whipsaws these kids into cold reactive silence. Their emotional scar tissue protects them and, at the same time, holds them back because progress and maturation requires taking risks which doesn’t happen when you have been playing defense all of your life. Cue all the anti-social destructive habits that make the pain go away, but land you in such lovely institutions as the ranch where I began my teaching career.
I’ve made it into the urban school board now as a supply teacher once again (woo) and stare at the long slog of building relationships and contacts that might get me hired somewhere. I’ve been there and done that once before, and I’m not sure that I want to do it again. I’m not sure is up with all the anecdata, but it was needed to get to this point to answer what the quote from Elodie was getting at – education doesn’t happen unless you undertake it yourself.
The University of Alberta offers off-season courses, amenably called the Spring/Summer semesters in which you can take 12 week courses squashed into a 6 week period. The learning is intense and the requires dedication and perseverance inside and outside of the lectures. Unlike my undergraduate days, I simply loved going to these classes, engaging fully into the learning process and tackling problems that ideas that broke my brain.
Loved it! The stress, the deadlines, the editing, polishing and reediting of essays and position papers, countless hours of review etc, it was great. I excelled in almost every class I took and now look back with a some pride. I did well now, as opposed to my degree studies because of the traits and knowledge learned outside of the ‘formal’ learning. I had no idea how the world worked until I read Chomsky and Zinn. I knew little of the struggles of women until I read BrownMiller (and am currently working through important works in the feminism canon), I knew little about the middle east until I read Tariq Ali and Robert Fisk.
These authors and many more fed my curiosity and growing sense of disgust and unease with the world. None of the knowledge that broke me into the world was ever found in the dim halls of my high school or the too warm/too cold lecture theatres of the University. It was a voyage sponsored alone, until I met and began to interact with my future partner, whose knowledge and scientific prowess/rigor far surpassed my own (still does, I’ve learned not to argue with awesome), goaded me into upping my intellectual game and going further than I thought possible. I owe a great debt to her for helping me build my intellect and foster the rational-academic aspects of my personality.
So how do you square being a teacher with the fact that you are stuffing a hodge-podge of oatmeal into your students heads and then with hoping that somehow they manage to find the path *despite* what you’ve taught them. Past bandying a few phrases about winnowing out the chaff or some sort of survival of the fittest bunk, I’m not seeing much sunshine in this particular situation.