(This is a slightly-revised version of a text that I wrote back in – oh, gee, must’ve been the late 1990’s. Still true, though.)
I always chuckle a bit when I hear conservatives lambasting our school systems for “not educating students.” I chuckle because it seems to me that the last thing some of these conservative pundits would want is a well-educated populace – that is, as opposed to a well-trained populace.
The first thing that should come immediately to your mind, of course, is, “What do you mean by ‘educated,’ buddy?” Like so many issues of controversy in the political arena, precise definitions of key concepts are few and far between, and misconceptions and misinterpretations, both accidental and intentional, abound. Let me discuss what I mean by “educated” —
- Properly educated people are capable of thinking for themselves.
- An educated person can evaluate information and come to an independent conclusion regarding the truth or falsity of a statement.
- An educated person can also come to an independent conclusion regarding the relevance or irrelevance of a statement, and can distinguish between what is really important and what is mere flummery or distraction.
- An educated person is not prey to demagoguery (from whatever source — left, right, or center), but is hip to the ways that rhetoric and logic can be abused.
- An educated person is therefore a tough sell.
- An educated person is also very difficult to govern.
- An educated person understands and appreciates the achievements of his or her race, class, gender, or nation — but also understands his or her place in relationship to other groups and to history, and knows that the strength of others does not come at his or her expense.
- The educated person also appreciates and is not threatened by diversity of culture or of opinions.
- An educated person understands the wider effects of his or her actions, and is neither insular nor uncaring about those effects.
- An educated person knows injustice when he or she sees it.
- An educated person understands how to analyze situations, and can plan and execute creative, appropriate, and effective responses.
- An educated person does not accept things as they are, but always questions the status quo, and looks for new possibilities.
- A truly educated person will therefore be, ipso facto, a revolutionary – in the best sense of that term.
I submit that having a bunch of well-educated, socially aware, independent-thinking, capable, empowered revolutionaries running around is the last thing that the Powers What Be want – and as proof, we need go no farther than the vast swamp of mindnumbing dreck produced by the infotainment zaibatsu (or, as Orwell tagged it, “Prolesec” – the folks in charge of entertaining the proletariat), and indeed, much of what is happening in industrial-model schools today.