Let’s start this post with a quote I found on a Frostburg University website about Karl Marx. As a spiritual person, I am always why I feel like I’m stuck in a box all the time and as a right-brained person I wonder why I have to live in world that is so squeaky clean (be on time, wake up at this time, get to work, send that resume etc.). Here’s the quote:
“(Marx’s) Theory of Alienation–his analysis of how people are bound to become estranged from themselves and each other under the conditions of capitalist industrial production. This Theory of Alienation is often considered the philosophical underpinning for his later more technical critique of capitalism as an economic system.”
Yes, every day and every night, even when life is going well I feel like I’m wrapped in some type of plastic and suffocating. Life, or at least modern life, the daily activities don’t seem to have meaning. It’s an endless chores of do this and do that, clean that, call this person, go out with these people, sleep early, wake early etc.
Are we mindless robots to maintain the current existing order? Well, to start, what does our modern education emphasize? As a future educator (I am in grad school for Education and I’ve been a tutor for 6 years and a martial arts coach for 11 years), I have to ask more questions.
Does our modern educational system emphasize:
– free thinkers
– thinking outside the box
– knowing the self
– can we contribute our craft and efforts for the better good
– lifelong education
– reading and self-education
– being critical, skeptical, and question of existing systems and power structures
– how to improve ourselves as people and moral beings (on a philosophical/ethical level, not religious)
– how to find, locate, and develop our talents for agency and self-reliance?
Next, I’d like to ask does modern education emphasize:
– obeying of rules and laws
– an ignoring of skepticism and self-advocacy towards existing systems and power structures
– being very knowledgeable in one’s field to be more efficient and productive future workers
– lifelong learning and self-education
– a broader appreciation for different disciplines and continued learning
– passive reception of objective information into our brains (Paulo Freire style – he discussed in “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” how oppression exists in the classroom when the teacher, knower of all things, “deposits” information into vessels [students] in a passive and I know and you don’t know type of system instead of inquiry based, guided learning, and group based projects)
Now to analyze further, it appears to me that modern education emphasizes an ammoral application of specialized knowledge we acquire in a field to further our individual needs and pursuits. However, these needs are usual very minimal such as: house, car, vacations, savings, and enough to raise a family. These are mundane needs that are basic and essential, however, beyond these needs there is no emphasis on applying their trade for the greater good of society – there is no focus on how to question one’s values (are house, car, savings really the end and be of all things?) and whether focusing on the individual needs are really the best path in one’s life and for society. Also, there’s no questioning if what we’re working for and the system that we’re helping to maintain is the most worthy one. We’re raised to be efficient, knowledgeable, and passive agents of a current existing order in order to maintain that order (economy, politics, the powers that be [financially, socially, and politically] ). We do not appear to be trained to be self-thinking, self-reliant, and critical members to want to constantly IMPROVE our lifestyles and question existing modes of thought, societal norms, and societal values.
Is it really worthy to work our lives away as the lower 96% so that the upper 4% don’t have to work, while we work on the hamster wheel all so we can own a small portion of land (a concept that was foreign to Native Americans), and have a small pension and savings? You know land was once free (how can you say you “own” a tree or piece of ground), that by having a trade such as blacksmithing then you can trade that service for someone building you a house or having a doctor treat your family’s health or perhaps house building was a communal effort that didn’t require a life savings and security deposit etc.
Now, to add, there is a portion of the poor, working class, and middle class that would DIE to have these options I’ve listed. They’re too busy being subjugated and denied of basic human needs to actually rise above their current, despotic situations to actually even wonder and question the system (and the things that they are working towards). I’ve recently tutored an Economics student who wrote a senior thesis on PROGRESA: the innovative, low-cost program that aimed and successfully reduced poverty with the three essential aspects of a better way of living which are education, diet, and healthcare. The program issued funds to family if they joined IF they sent their children to school (which combats child labor and reduces poverty) and participated in the dietary and healthcare aspect of the system. The program overall was successful (though aspects needed fine tuning such as adjusting the program parameters from a rural setting to an urban setting) and the concept spread to other Latin American nations. In addition, this program costed LESS than programs that only emphasized issuing of food stamps/vouchers, welfare, or education. It seems these THREE things: education, diet, and healthcare are important for subjugated, oppressed groups to improve and rise in their socio-economic situation. To add, a Brazilian priest once said: “When I give the poor people food, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a Communist.”
Next, we enter some major world problems: global warming, poverty, political oppression, war, and famine etc. Some aspects of these problems would be reduced on many levels IF the poor and working class of the world have access to these THREE things – education, diet, healthcare (EDH – I’ll call it that for now). Sure, there are good people out in the world who are trying to provide food for hungry people – it’s worthy. However, what’s better is curing the SOURCE of the hunger and providing them with EDH. People are ignorant or arrogant to believe that whole races, groups of people, and members of lower socio-economic classes are predominantly lazy, unambitious, and unintelligent – they give themselves too much credit for life circumstance that were handed to them (education, job, college, stable household and income which are products of institutional systems etc.). Everyone has the ability to be successful and to be educated correctly to not only raise their socio-economic situation, but to contribute their gifts to the world.
It it my contention that the environment, urban pollution (riding bikes instead of driving cars), organic vs. GMO (genetically modified food products), political atrocities around the world, and consumer education to name just a few important issues, but are mainly RICH people issues. The rest of the world is too poor to care or take notice of these issues. In order to entirely change the world, the poor and working class must be helped to overcome their socio-economic situation (and of course a side-product would be reduced crime and of course Poverty) by helping themselves – only then will they see the usefulness and importance of addressing these world issues. When all of humanity unites in this effort then it can be done. If only a few in power and a few privileged members of society want this to change then it won’t change.
While I am critical of modern education, I do have to say any education is better than no education. Education is the means and methods of a way out of any boxes that we have created or have been forced to reside in. However, improvement of that education will further benefit humanity and the world around us.
Thank you for reading Modern Society II! Be free to send me any comments at:
Have a great day! 😀