The Conforming Power of Education

Me: If I can help it I’ll never work for someone else again
My teenage step-daughter: Then how will you ever get a job?

Such a reaction would be absolutely hilarious if it wasn’t actually so tragic. The notion that we must do the bidding of others is so engrained in the minds of many, that the thought of actually starting one’s own business or forging a new path is completely overlooked. It reminds me of an insight I had a few months ago: create your own reality or someone else will happily create it for you.

I don’t want to make this a post bashing compulsory public education, but I wouldn’t expect a movement dedicated to de-Catholicizing Catholics to give independent thought a, well, second thought. Instead of promoting American Civic Religion, it seems much of high school education today turns people into intellectual conformists.

While the blame can’t be laid at the feet of teachers, I think the system bears quite a bit of fault. But, then again, education hasn’t changed much since the telegraph took social networking to new heights. Forward thinking tech geek entrepreneurs have altered the way society thinks and acts with their ideas and hard work, but our educational experts have merely replaced the chalkboard and overheard projector with a smart board and chalk and overheads with Power Point.

Although most teachers would be horrified to know they’re creating zombies ready to do the bidding of corporate masters, they’re in a system designed for just that. Everyone sits in rows quietly. Everyone does the exact same assignments in class and basically learns the same material. The questioning or the rowdy (who are really asking questions with their behavior, like why the hell am I wasting my time?) are marginalized. It’s nice preparation for a life where a person is expected to work a job he or she hates, retire, then die. Oh, and let’s not forget the layoffs, stagnant wages, and so on.

I know this post is a tad on the cranky side (maybe fully there) and part of it is my own anger that I am thirty-two years old and even after completing high school, undergrad, and getting my Masters, was still as clueless as my daughter only six months ago. She is more than welcome to work for someone else her entire life. But, at least I know, no thanks to the schools, she has the knowledge to choose otherwise.