Saturday, September 22, 2018

Uyboco: The Basics (Part 3)

Freethinking Me

WHERE does the idea of the basics of education come from anyway?

It comes from a parental orientation. Parents are the child’s first teachers -- coaxing them to form their first words, holding them when they try to stand and walk, teaching them how to say “please” and “thank you,” and so on. In ancient times, it also meant teaching them how to hunt, cook, build a fire, build shelter, and so on.

In that mindset, the parents or guardians act as the authority -- “I know better, you listen to me.”

In those days, there was a certain limit to what you could do. You trained to become a warrior or a hunter, a farmer, a craftsman building weapons or tools, a merchant or an entertainer. If you were a woman, your options were even more limited.

That was more or less how things were until the industrial revolution came along in the 18th century. The birth of more and more factories now demanded a certain class of workers that historically did not exist in large numbers. Now remember that factories in those days were nowhere near the factories of today where you have a lot of robots and machines working on automated processes. Before, you needed hundreds or even thousands of humans working on some part of an assembly line.

In other words, humans were doing robotic tasks before robots came along.

In order to do so, they needed people who could read -- because it is much better to circulate written instructions, announcements, warnings and so on than it is to keep verbally repeating them all the time. They needed people who could write -- they should at least be able to write their own name, to log data, write reports, and so on rather than having someone else take dictation all the time. And they needed some rudimentary arithmetic to do simple calculations at work -- and of course, managers, accountants and bookkeepers needed a bit more than what was rudimentary.

Most of all, they needed people who were good at following instructions, who would do exactly what they were told to do. It’s not exactly a good thing for an assembly line worker to suddenly get creative with his tasks.

So the “experts” came together and figured out a way to produce these kinds of people and thus, the school system was born with the basics, of course, being reading, writing and arithmetic. And these were enforced with the same authoritarian mindset -- “We know better. You sit down and listen to us.”

The subliminal effect of this method of instruction produced subservient children who would obey, respond well to praise and good grades, and be afraid of committing mistakes for fear of being reprimanded or getting failing marks. Those who did well in school went on to becoming good factory workers, securing tenure and earning a steady income.

Today, after 200 years since the birth of the school system, not much has changed. Oh sure, we’ve added more hours and days and more subjects that “experts” have deemed as basic. We’ve also relaxed on methods of correction and punishment. But most schools are still run in the same fundamental premise -- that there are experts who know better what kids are supposed to know and do not know. What is worse is that schools are still in the business of producing followers, no matter the lip service they give to producing leaders.

And I’ll show you why in Part 4.