THE BROKEN PROMISES OF SCHOOL
Most parents send their kids to school. They do this because they believe it is a necessary and valuable part of every child’s growing up. It is what they call “education”. You’ll never get anywhere in life if you don’t have an education. Fail at school; fail at life, they say. School promises the road to success.
1. School helps you find your major or “What are you going to be when you grow up?’
2. School prepares you for the real world.
3. You will make new friends and gain social skills such as networking.
4. You will learn how to become a useful, law-abiding citizen of the world. co-operative and responsible.
5. You will learn how to qualify for jobs by learning arithmetic, spelling, grammar, and using computers, calculators, and tablets.
6. You may participate in extra-curricular, after school, activities such as football, dance, chess, math club, martial arts, floor hockey, drama, and many others.
1. School institutionalises young people, effectively keeping them out of touch with the real world of work and professions. Opportunity to associate with working grownups is limited to immediate family and teachers. While confined in school, they will learn an idealised fantasy of careers that lie before them.
2. Yet school is nothing like the “real” world. School is not unlike prison, in which inmates are confined and kept separate from everyday society. In school as in prison, attendance is compulsory, rules must be obeyed, and ordinary functions like eating, drinking, and use of the toilet are strictly regulated. Quiet obedience and compliance are demanded and enforced. Segregation, known as “time out”, is a common punishment in both prisons and schools.
3. School segregates children into age and achievement classes where association with anyone outside of the designated group is rarely possible. In addition to their classmates, they will experience but a small number of adults (teachers) who are trained to act as functions rather than individuals. Like prison guards (see above) teachers are not to fraternise with students lest they lose the all-important power to control.
4. Unlike democratic society, school is an authoritarian dictatorship in which arbitrary rules and regulations are enforced by evaluations, judgments (grades), comparison with others, humiliating discipline, and the threat of failure. Children are rewarded for being docile and compliant instead of being active participants in a functioning democracy.
5. The nineteenth century city school with compulsory attendance was modelled on notions of scientific management as espoused by William Farish (1759-1837) and Frederick Taylor (1856-1915). Accordingly, and following the logic of the factory, school turns learning into a chore, dividing academic pursuits into subjects, and each subject into gradient steps to be assessed at regular intervals by standardised tests. The curriculum, which determines what goes on in school, reads like a recipe book: combine these ingredients in this order to arrive at a predictable product: the graduate—ready for work in a nineteenth century environment.
6. Teachers are discouraged from spending out-of-school unpaid time on extracurricular activities. What is offered will depend upon availability and willingness of volunteer parents and others from the community, consequently not many schools have after-school activities.
THE BROKEN PROMISES
SCHOOL AS PRISON