Culture of Resistance

School as Narcotic

What have we done, Murray? Filling blackboards and workbooks,
running videos, cramming heads with disconnected information we
have driven even the idea of quality from the field. And by constantly
bathing the young in passivity, showering them with petty orders and
bells for their own good, we have created a foundry where incomplete
men and women are forged.
Our school products emerge with only shaky grasp of the past,
with a void where comprehension should be; they have no capacity
to visualize the future. Every single secondary school student in New
York City is taught that North and South Vietnam are one country,
divided, and all their teachers believe that, too. But the truth is that
for thousands of years they were three countries - and only forced together
for a short time under French domination. The civilization of
the two northern countries, Annam and Tonkin, derives largely from
China; the culture of South Vietnam, a country know as Champa,
comes - like that of Cambodia - from India. The two regions have
been fighting for nearly two thousand years. Like the Sunnis and the
Shiites in the artificial country fabricated by the British called Iraq,
there is no “solution” to the conflict - only violence periodically renewed.
Why don’t you know this, Murray? Your license says you are a
"history teacher;’ but what you teach is propaganda.
Nightmare children are all about us, diseased by our indifference;
some have capacity to heal themselves, most don’t. These are
nightmare children, I say; no vital interests, creatures trained to organize
their time around spasms of excitement and amusement, or
escape from punishment. The maps of the road ahead they carry are
false. The most curious commentary on these kids is the thousands of
hours they spend in not exploring, not playing, not seeking opportunities
for personal gain - but in watching other people on television, in
music videos and computer games.
Sane children would never do this - the arc of anyone’s life is
too short to accept passivity and fantasy to this degree. Conjure with
these numbers: in families where the husband and wife have never
been divorced, and where the wife doesn’t work, the index of spectatorship
- TV and otherwise - drops to one-tenth the big-city average.
The institution you and I work for creates addiction. It addicts
children to prefer thin abstraction and dull fantasies to reality. As I’ve
grown older I’ve come to believe that good teachers are more dangerous
than bad ones. They keep this sick institution alive.
Old friend, I’m done. I’m going to circulate this letter to the new
school board in the hopes it might make some of them think. I haven’t
the slightest reason to believe it will, but that doesn’t excuse me from
trying.

Posted by
Angular Gyrus