Monday, 20 April 2009


The other day James was expressing his frustration over work. As a business owner, he lamented that he hated the fact that he never knew if he was succeeding or failing, and that there was no definitive end to anything he was doing. I told him the problem was clear - he simply had to unlearn everything he had learned in school, and then he would be alright.

Seriously. What he was longing for was someone to give an outline for a project, with a list of expectations and a due date. He wanted a mark upon completion, a definitive reward for having worked hard and completing the task according to specifications. But the real world doesn't work like that. Not the individual, thinking, business owner world. He actually drew the parallel to his previous university job at Chrysler, which was not an assembly plant, but operated in exactly the same way.

My frustration is boiling over. I am battling my own education background. I was thankfully allowed critical thinking and some educational freedom in the enhanced learning class I attended, but I still struggle against the futile act of simply performing as instructed to receive the paltry (and meaningless) reward of an 'A' grade.

I see how easily I am manipulated. I see how easily I fall into the mainstream. But I also see how easily I am picked up by every canoe paddling upstream. Persuasive government lulls me into a state of passivity; persuasive revolutionists convince me to string along the back of their tails. What I find hard is swimming on my own - being able to listen and analyze and understand the issues and really figure out what is best for me, my family, my community, my society, my culture, my world. I'm allowed to do that, right?

I am furious at our societal model. Wake up, go to work, collect a paycheque, spend it on things, lather, rinse, repeat. We are driven by the media and I'm appalled at the control wielded by people using this vicious tool.

Consume: Why on earth do I need a new top, because I don't have one in mauve? My boots still fit fine - even if they are only a 2" heel rather than the current stylish flats. My TV projects an image, if I even dare to turn it on. The toy room can't be kept tidy for an hour because of the mountain of toys. And yet I am bombarded by the argument that I need/want/deserve more. I have the urge to abolish gift-giving. Can there possibly be anything else I need? Is there an empty nook or cranny to be found?

Entertain: How is it we can empathize with a television character when we so sorely lack empathy in the real world? Why do we know more about 6 "Friends" than our neighbours? Why are our children unable to entertain themselves without a black box? There aren't enough hours in the day already - why on earth do I give up precious time to sitting uselessly in front of the TV?

And so you have it. Work to get money, and then have other people tell you how to spend it, then mindlessly engage in a fictional world so you aren't distracted by the real issues going on around you.

I'm not giving up everything I am. Questioning doesn't mean discarding. It just means knowing why you are doing it. It means understanding what it's really about, not just what others tell you it's about. It means making a truly informed decision about the real issues and motives. It means asking harder questions, not just answering the polite questionnaire distributed in the name of "free choice". It means beating your own drum because you know it's the right way to go, in spite of politicians, experts, media, and even friends and family. And then it's about accepting the decisions of your friends who have likewise opened their eyes and made their own decisions. Just because we come to different conclusions doesn't mean anyone is wrong. Everyone is right, when they have engaged in the process of critical thinking and understanding. And this revolution doesn't necessarily mean extremist. In fact, I might caution that extremism is just another persuasive movement vying for your vote. It's simply about regaining control.

1 comment:

Kevin H. said...

There's a real urgency and directness to this entry that make is a standout among your recent volleys against post-industrial education. You say what you mean and you mean what you say.

It probably helps that I'm sympathetic to your argument (happily laying some of the blame for my intermittent periods of stasis at the feet of my childhood programming), but great post, in any case.