Thursday, December 03, 2015

San Bern(uh)dino

There was a mass shooting yesterday in San Bernardino.

Before the bodies were cold, President Obama rushed to the nearest microphone and began agitating against his political enemies and campaigning for new regulations.

There were hundreds of thousands of comments and retweets on the mispelled hashtag #SanBernadino ... most were from people who were simply trying to spin a sensational event to their political bent.

Many of the tweets asked why becoming so violent. Favorite answers included the Tea Party, the NRA, the GOP and Christianity.

Having invested a great deal of time into studying the history of logic, I suspect that the reason we are becoming more violent is the result of the way that we are taught in school.

Back in college, my dream was to become a high school math teacher. I attended the education department of the University of Utah back in the 1980s.

This department, and other departments across the nation, were teaching an activist model for education. Paulo Freire's "Pedagogy of the Oppressed" was a primary text along with Plato's and Marx's "Manifesto."

A primary theme of Freire is that education is a praxis in the social revolution. We were given assignments in which we were asked how to organize a classroom around the ideal of a social praxis.

I was horrified by what they were teaching. Having studied the history of math and logic, I realized that they were teaching the same ideology that had taken Europe by storm before World War II. Back in the 1980s, I said that if we organize education this way, we will end up with a violent society.

The professors at the U were so upset at my challenging their authority that they flunked me out. I flunked three classes in one quarter, destroying any attempt I could make at pursuing a career in teaching.

My distaste of activist education is so strong, that I was willing to stand against authority and have my career destroyed by taking the stand.

An activist education teaches us that the society progresses though social conflict and that the activist teacher needs to prepare students through propaganda and by organizing the students against the enemies of the party.

Activism can be effective in bringing a party to power. Activism can help a partisan group put down its enemies.

The problem with an activist education is that it destroys people's ability to communicate and can even destroy their ability to reason.

Back in the 1980s (and even today) my ideals about math education is that the goal of a math teacher is to teach mathematics. A good math teacher might delve into the history and conflicts which have taken place in mathematics and logic, but should stay away from the political.

The hope behind this form of education is that students who have a firm grip of mathematics might be better equipped to handle the challenges they face in life.

Truthfully, I've become even firmer in this stance.

Freire drove the ideas that schooling should be seen as a praxis.

The term "praxis," in the Marxian school of thought, is an action taken to realize a philosophy.

Many of the mass shootings that we see today seem to follow a pattern of a Marxian praxis.

The Colorado Springs shooting was done by a man upset at Planned Parenthood's selling baby parts. He killed some people at random and said the selling of baby parts must stop at his arrest.

This is a praxis. It is a classic praxis.

This is what Paulo Friere was teaching should be fundamental to education!!!!

Thirty years ago when I was flunked out of the University of Utah, my complaint was that education theory which had swept the nation would lead to a populace that was unable to engage in discourse and that was likely to engage in violence.

Today we have a president who was weened on the Alinsky style of community organization. The fact that Obama was using the shooting to agitate for political change before we even knew the name of the suspect in the shootings shows that the ideals of activism are fully in play in our nation ...

... and, as I feared in the 1980s, we are becoming a violent society as result.


Now, I need to point out something that is extremely scary.

The education we receive in school affects both the left and the right.

The Right Wing Conservatism that we see today shares the same foundational philosophy as the left.

I've attended Tea Party meetings and Conservative rallies in which the organizers are repeating exactly the same methodology that occurred on the left.

So, we are seeing an unprecedented amount of agititation coming from both sides of the political fence and are seeing fewer and fewer public figures effectively engaged in discourse.

The reason that this is happening is because our schools have been using the activist model.

There were over three hundred thousand posts and retweets with the misspelled hashtag #sanbernadino before the police released the names of the shooter. My tumblr feed was polluted with activist messages using the shooting to attack their enemies.

The activist education that we received in school is destroying our ability to engage in discourse. Unfortunately, it has affected the right as deeply as the left giving us no where to turn.

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