Education Is the Bane of Resistance among Jesus-followers, Too.

Let’s talk about how the educators or, better, how the “education industry” have created indoctrination camps that have subdued young Americans and broken any spirit of resistance to domination they might normally have. I’m talking about the mandatory sentences handed out to young people from age five to twenty-two. I’m talking about having some dialogue in the spirit of James, who wrote to the people of his time:

Who in your community is understanding and wise? Let his example, which is marked by wisdom and gentleness, blaze a trail for others. If your heart is one that bleeds dark streams of jealousy and selfishness, do not be so proud that you ignore your depraved state. The wisdom of this world should never be mistaken for heavenly wisdom; it originates below in the earthly realms, with the demons. Any place where you find jealousy and selfish ambition, you will discover chaos and evil thriving under its rule. Heavenly wisdom centers on purity, peace, gentleness, deference, mercy, and other good fruits untainted by hypocrisy. The seed that flowers into righteousness will always be planted in peace by those who embrace peace (James 3:13-18 – The Voice).

Somehow, the educators have convinced the young of this era that they can dispense with wisdom and becomes tools of the economy, that they can ignore their best instincts and submit to training that makes them little more than a part of a machine — and that includes a giant war machine to boot, that competition and ambition designed by the invisible hand and the national interest is their true destiny.

Education, as presently dominated, is the bane of resistance. And there is much to resist.

Schools Educate for Compliance.

Upon accepting the New York City Teacher of the Year Award in 1990, John Taylor Gatto upset many in attendance and has been quoted ever since, to no avail: “The truth is that schools don’t really teach anything except how to obey orders. This is a great mystery to me because thousands of humane, caring people work in schools as teachers and aides and administrators, but the abstract logic of the institution overwhelms their individual contributions.” Past generations discussed the problems of compulsory schooling that could make it a vehicle for an authoritarian society. But as the problems have gotten worse, the discussion has become more rare.

child_money_financial_after_school_programThe nature of most classrooms, regardless of the subject matter, socializes students to be passive and directed by others, to follow orders, to take seriously the rewards and punishments of authorities, to pretend to care about things they don’t care about, and to believe they are impotent to affect their situation. The essence of school—its demand for compliance—teaches us not to act in a friction-causing manner.

The essence of most Christian teaching is boiled down into the same kind of goal: compliant behavior. This is epitomized by Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten ( 7 million copies sold and counting) which starts with: Share everything, Play fair, Don’t hit people, Put things back where you found them, Clean up your own mess. That ends up being the extent of most people’s Christianity — nice behavior! Obviously there is some goodness there, but it is a far cry from the Apostle Paul claiming that the disciple’s goal is to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and…take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5). That’s not too compliant and would probably get Paul kicked out of kindergarten.

One would think Christians would be educated to be anything but compliant — peacemaking, yes, nonresistant in a strategic way, yes, but never merely compliant. But they let the schools dictate what passes for wisdom.

Already authoritarian schools have been legislated into even more tyranny

With “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top” the corporatocracy instituted the fear-inducing standardized-testing-and-perpetual-competition tyranny that torpedoes any free thinking. Fear forces students and teachers to constantly focus on the demands of the test creators that judge the process and the grantors that fund the budget; it crushes curiosity, critical thinking, questioning authority, and certainly challenging and resisting illegitimate authority.

I have been instructed by many well-meaning elementary children to not have my aberrant, irreverent thinking on display because I will “get in trouble.” They are all business. The other day I was telling one of them why I did not fear death because the Lord would raise me up. That somehow sparked a thought in his mind about the boiled-down theory of evolution he had just been learning on the computer. He gave me the party line he’d been taught in response to my irreverent thinking. He will get to the top, but of what?

Meanwhile Paul continues to offer revelation that most Christian parents have totally forgotten, obsessed, as they are, with protecting their children’s capability to make it in the domination system.

For people who are stumbling toward ruin, the message of the cross is nothing but a tall tale for fools by a fool. But for those of us who are already experiencing the reality of being rescued and made right, it is nothing short of God’s power. This is why the Scripture says:
          I will put an end to the wisdom of the so-called wise,
          and I will invalidate the insight of your so-called experts.
So now, where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar? Where is the skilled debater, the best of your time? Step up, if you dare. Hasn’t God made fools out of those who count on the wisdom of this rebellious, broken world?  For in God’s deep wisdom, He made it so that the world could not even begin to comprehend Him through its own style of wisdom; in fact, God took immense pleasure in rescuing people of faith through the foolishness of the message we preach (1 Corinthians 1:18-21 – The Voice).

Any alternative to the education gulag is shamed

In 2006 a survey in the United States found that 40 percent of children between first and third grade read every day, but by fourth grade, that rate declined to 29 percent. Despite the anti-educational impact of standard schools, children and their parents are increasingly propagandized to believe that disliking school means disliking learning. That was not always the case in the United States. Mark Twain famously did not say, “I never let my schooling get in the way of my education.” Toward the end of Twain’s life in 1900, only 6 percent of Americans graduated high school. Today, approximately 85 percent of Americans graduate high school, but that is not good enough for Barack Obama who told us in 2009, “Dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country.”

The more schooling Americans get, however, the more politically ignorant they seem to be of America’s ongoing class war, and the more incapable they are of challenging the ruling class. I know no one is nostalgic for the Populist Movement of the 1880s and 90s. But American farmers with little or no schooling organized America’s largest-scale working people’s cooperative and formed a People’s Party that received 8 percent of the vote in 1892. Regular, uneducated people made a difference. In the 1970’s the Jesus movement upended much of the church. It was a young person’s movement, not a gift from their leaders. Where are those kind of people now, fully indoctrinated?

The high priests of the educational system eerily resemble the religious leaders who threatened the common people for feeling warmed by the new, real teaching of Jesus.

         No one was willing to speak openly about Jesus for fear of the religious leaders.
 In the middle of the festival, Jesus marched directly into the temple and started to teach. Some of the Jews who heard Him were amazed at Jesus’ ability, and people questioned repeatedly:
        Jews: How can this man be so wise about the Hebrew Scriptures? He has never had a formal education.
        Jesus:  I do not claim ownership of My words; they are a gift from the One who sent Me. If anyone is willing to act according to His purposes and is open to hearing truth, he will know the source of My teaching. Does it come from God or from Me? If a man speaks his own words, constantly quoting himself, he is after adulation. But I chase only after glory for the One who sent Me. My intention is authentic and true. You’ll find no wrong motives in Me (John 7:13-18, The Voice).

I think our education has made us afraid to speak lest we offend the new lawgivers who run it (quite poorly, in Philadelphia). It is time the Jesus-followers, at least, follow Jesus in his bold assertion that He has wisdom from God to give as it has been given him. Standing on that foundation could help us resist the domination of children by self-interested powers, and would give those blessed warriors who serve children as teachers the courage to keep up their struggle to give what they have been given in the Spirit and not just as abused lackeys of the system.

Thanks again to Bruce E. Levine and his article republished in alternet.org

Further links not necessarily recommendations, just further voices.

Advertisements

About Rod White

Pastor for Circle of Hope. Graduate of Fuller Seminary, PhD in MFT from Eastern University.
This entry was posted in Theological Help and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Education Is the Bane of Resistance among Jesus-followers, Too.

  1. Pingback: Screen-delivered Consumerism Saps Resistance | Rod's Blog

  2. Pingback: They’ll Pathologize and Medicate the Resistance They Surveil | Rod's Blog

  3. Pingback: Debt Has Broken the Spirit of Resistance among Jesus-followers, Too | Rod's Blog

  4. Pingback: 18 and Life: Giving America back to future generations the confidence of turning 18 – TheWiseMe.com /donny-wise.com

  5. Sam B says:

    Read The Good News Club: The Christian Rights Stealth Assault on America’s Children. Many see fundamentalism as a hydra invading our schools and fostering an unquestioning group think. I agree, it starts with the pledge and the under God wedge between one nation and indivisible. Put there at the height of McCarthyism. As Warren Throckmorton has pointed out, contra Barton, T. Jefferson thought the evangelicals of his day to be incendiaries, promoting division. Was TJ correct? Can evangelical Christianity only sow division, aka attack public education? Just sayin.

  6. Mary WB says:

    I think we are in the midst of a situation that is actually even more complicated. Farmers are not uneducated; they typically apprentice with their parents and others in the community. It takes a lot of skill and knowledge to be a farmer, and it seems that one’s role and purpose would be more evident in that situation (i.e., I need to grow this so that I might help myself and others to survive).
    The numbing education factories and addictive entertainment systems are symptoms of a society striving for purpose, for something meaningful to do and to be. Many of today’s jobs just don’t seem that fulfilling. if you are faced with a lifetime of poorly-paid service industry work or paper-shuffling, what you do for money can really seem like “just a job,” apart from yourself. The focus of education, then, veers to the bare minimum standard so that someone might aspire to become a cog in the economy of consumption.
    As a teacher, I find all of this tremendously frustrating, but still, there is hope. Many of my students over the years have not just expressed suspicion about the whole setup, but have also dreamed of something different for themselves and others.

  7. swithrowking says:

    So….can we raise nonconformist, curious peacemakers and still send them to the institution of school? Particularly if we can’t be in the classroom with them?

  8. swithrowking says:

    Reblogged this on sarah withrow king and commented:
    Holy moly. Every human person in the U.S. should read this. My own kid starts kindergarten next week. How can I ensure that he doesn’t learn to conform, but to transform?

  9. Jonny Rashid says:

    I totally agree with you on this–education, by and large, pacifies us. It all begins with memorizing the Pledge of Allegiance! Education might pacify large swaths of the population, but in Philadelphia, the state’s refusal to fund our schools and the City’s incompetence in lobbying for the funding is disenfranchising our poor not making them more radical, and we have to fight that and I think Jesus and Paul would fight along with us. Perhaps it is the pacifiying education of the City Hall and Council and the state government that prevents them from doing the same.

It would be great to hear what you are thinking. Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s