Tag Archives: We the People

I’m Not a Conspiracy Theorist; I’m just a Chiropractor

2 Nov

I love learning German history. A), Many German painters, thinkers, writers, and artists-in-general are just about as death-obsessed as I am and B), I am constantly making those “real world connections” that are so über important in the world of education. Also, to clarify, I’m aware that everything about this paragraph makes me a bona fide nerd.

A different kind of nerd.

The other day we were learning about Hitler’s rise to power via the German Expressionism movement (a movement, I might I add, that is VERY COOL and nerdy or not, I will prove this later). Hitler started out as a total nobody, a failed artist whiny boy that came out of WWI unscathed and decorated with 2 ounces of precious metals. He felt some sort of calling to burst onto the political scene and formed the National Socialist Party. He failed at staging a coup in the 20’s and was imprisoned. But when the stock market crashed in ’29, Hitler had his golden opportunity. People were hungry, out of work, and scared.

The most important of those three factors is fear.

At my college graduation, we had a speaker who survived the Holocaust. She’s an incredible woman – Erna Blitzer Gorman, check her out. What she wanted us to take home was this: leaders take power with simple messages. Great change is achieved with simple words. Beware of the simple message.

What was Hitler’s message in the late 20’s, early 30’s?

Arbeit und Brot. Arbeit, Freiheit, und Brot. Work and bread. Work, freedom, and bread.

The people embraced Hitler for his simple message of work and food. The vast majority ignored his other messages.

What’s the best way, pedagogically, to help the student with a behavior problem? Teachers and Chiropractors, I know you know this one – PREVENTION. It’s all preventative medicine. We create an environment or community (or society!) where we can address the problem before it occurs – this is good teaching. It’s also the sign of a healthy society.

Erna Gorman encouraged us not to be passive bystanders. She encouraged us right the wrongs we see. She admitted this takes courage.

What it also takes is the ability to discern – to think for self.

America is facing a similar economic and social situation to Germany – while we are not suffering under the harsh conditions of the Versailles Treaty, our economy is down, unemployment is on the rise, and the people are scared.

We must monitor what we are buying into – even if our current social situation is poor, we must read between the lines and know our vote. Hitler came to power in 1933 – he was appointed chancellor to a republic. Keep in mind that a republic is a government where officials are elected by WE THE PEOPLE.

Most German citizens ignored Hitler’s racial message because they were infatuated with his promises. Recognize all the messages of our leaders, not just their promises. While no races may be endangered by America’s current political climate, there are other social groups to consider. Also consider that change is not immediate – knowing our vote and thinking for self NOW will quash an ugly movement before it ever rears its head.

Change is not immediate. Watch your government. Take part!

Like Erna Gorman, I wish for you all a life free of war, bigotry, and prejudice. In fact, I invite you to take it – to create it.

Read Erna Blitzer Gorman’s commencement speech HERE.

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Destroy the Free Will! or Hitler’s Take on Education

19 Sep

I think everyone who reads my blog knows by now that I am anti the national education movement. I do not believe in national standards, federal control, or politicians (businessmen?) who have little to no experience in the field telling us how to run our states and classrooms.

Ahem.

I am going to share with you, dear readers, yet another interesting find in the national education movement – this one has to do with Nazism.

“… the new education must consist essentially in this, that it completely destroys freedom of will in the soil which it undertakes to cultivate, and produces on the contrary strict necessity in the decisions of the will…”

That line is a direct quote from Fichte’s Addresses to the German Nation. Fichte is suggesting a new order of education because the old order is just not working (hmmm, sound familar?). The old order of education sought to “at most only exhort to good order and morality” (i.e. teach the kids what is a good, moral choice and allow them to make the choice). Fichte suggests crushing free will – note that he uses the word “destroy” – and replacing it with strict necessity in the decisions of the will.

Fichte. Maybe he got used. Or maybe he was a crappy philosopher.

Fichte was promoting Nationalism in the face of foreign invasion (the Napoleonic Wars), so the circumstances were a bit different. However, extremism is still extremism, and I can’t find myself agreeing with a modern nationally controlled education system. Fichte goes on:

“…(as) national education is concerned, we are firmly convinced that, especially among the working classes, it cannot be either begun, continued, or ended in the parents’ house, nor, indeed, without complete separation of the children from them.”

Oh, is that because working class people are too stupid to let their children be properly educated? They would probably teach their children the awful values that accompany a working-class life. Damn those hard-working, inadequately compensated working class parents. Damn you.

Hitler capitalized on nationalistic writing to form organizations like the Hitler Youth. Currently, businesses may be capitalizing on schools’ failures to meet AYP (No Child Left Behind – arbitrary federal law?) to make profits. School is not a business.

While America is not yet tearing children from their parents and educating them in private institutions, I must ask We the People to consider the consequences of moving toward a rigorous national curriculum in collaboration with privatizing education. The function of today’s schools is to help the growth of the individual, to make students conscientious thinkers, and above all, appreciate free will by the ability to make intelligent decisions (i.e. SMART consumerism! Responsible usership!). Schools and teachers want kids to do amazing, incredible things and to pursue their dreams successfully; support your local, public schools. Help reform them – vote. Get involved. Support learning for all students; public schools offer this gift.

Know what you’re buying BEFORE you buy it. Canned curriculum, federal standards, privatization of schools, and teachers without rights just may not be the trick to fixing education.

Activism takes root early – keep your voice! Make it heard!

Why We Need More Bill Nye and Less Government Intervention

2 Sep

Okay, so EducationWeek has this really cool interactive timeline on American education policies since the Reagan era (81-89). I know you’re all chomping at the bit to get to it, so CHECK IT OUT HERE.

Honestly though, this timeline is pretty cool. It’s great for some perspective. For instance, did you know that in 1983, education pundits were worried about the new technology of computers not allowing for equal education opportunities to all students? 38 years later and it’s the same battle with computers, Internet access, Smartboards, and oh, let’s not forget up to date textbooks and up to code buildings.

The next report in the timeline, also 1983, declares that the American education system has lagged into mediocrity.

Later in ’83, Reagan “seizes educational initiative” by suggesting a reformed method of paying teachers – merit pay (basing teacher pay off student performance on standardized tests).

Later in ’83: a shortage of teachers for math and science! Let’s create incentives.

1984: The Secretary of Education creates a program that will give $1 million in grants to districts ONLY IF they implement merit-pay measures (Race to the Top, any one?)

’85 – Bilingual policies have failed. (Fast forward to 2011 – still failing)

Later in 1985 – Vouchers are approved for private schools!

1987 – I was born.

Why is it that the issues we were fighting to solve 30+ years ago are the same issues we’re fighting to solve today? Shouldn’t we have made some progress?

Nope. Instead we’re suggesting the same solutions that failed to work in the 80’s. Let’s get teachers on merit pay, even though standardized tests are supposed to be used a tool to understand individual student achievements/areas of need so that we can better teach the individual. Let’s keep sending public money to private schools via vouchers. Let’s force districts into implementing laws by dangling big fat funding in front of their faces. And it’s still impossible to interest any one in teaching science or math.

My ideas: let’s do away with the idea that standardized tests indicate intelligence, create better evaluation systems for teachers and better assessments of student progress and academic growth, STOP giving tax money to private ventures, DO give the federal government the boot when it tries to bully/coax states into legislation, take back our ability to self-govern, and hire Bill Nye to motivate college students to become science teachers.

One look is all he needs to make those kids switch degrees

If all that is too wistful, we can always go back to to the interactive timeline and wonder at our inability to change.

Babbitt in Mean-mugging American Values

29 Aug

For the past week or two, I’ve been reading Babbitt, by good ol American author Sinclair Lewis (who had a wonderfully ugly mug. Check it out).

This Yale literati published Babbitt in 1922. The book is a scathing satire on the Modern American (Wo)Man of 1920, strongly criticizing the value placed on consumerism and the desire to belong to High Society. Though the Great Depression came between us and the publishing of Babbitt, it seems that the two American Gods have been once more safely adopted into our 21st century homes. Consumerism and Class are worshiped by the masses.

The similarities between the 1920 socioeconomic conditions Lewis so heartily mocks and the conditions of today are eerie: the promotion of business at the expense of the people. The busting of strikes and organized labor. Corrupted relationships between business and government. There’s even a theme of TEACHER BASHING.

That’s right. It looks like the Good Fellows of 1920 were doing the same thing as the Good Fellows of 2011, or rather, the Good Fellows have simply never changed.

“Before I close I must call your attention to a problem we have to face, this coming year. The worst menace to sound government is not the avowed socialists but a lot of cowards who work undercover – the long-haired gentry who call themselves “liberals” and “radicals” and “non-partisan” and “intelligentsia” and God only knows how many other trick names! Irresponsible teachers and professors constitute the worst of this whole gang… Those profs are the snakes to be scotched – they and all their milk-and-water ilk! The American business man is generous to a fault, but one thing he does demand of all teachers and lecturers and journalists: if we’re going to pay them our good money, they’ve got to help us by selling efficiency and whooping it up for rational prosperity! And when it comes to these blab-mouth, fault-finding, pessimistic, cynical University teachers, let me tell you that during this golden coming year it’s just as much our duty to bring influence to have those cusses fired as it is to sell all the real estate and gather in all the good shekels we can.”

– Babbitt, 187/88

Bring influence to have those cusses fired? That paragraph reminds me a bit of Scott Walker’s attitude toward teachers. Remember when he got punked by a journalist pretending to be David Koch? Teachers are not the enemies of Business nor are they they ones stealing all the money from the middle class. Let’s recall that the top 10% of households in the United States own 83% of the wealth.

We the people need to check our government and large-scale business. We need to set our minds on what matters, and take the focus off consumerism. We need to figure out a system that invites change, and then we need to change. If we refuse, we may face a disaster on par with the Depression. The rich cannot keep getting richer. Remember this gal?

"Let them eat cake!"

Let’s stop history from repeating itself.