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(en) US, Buffalo Class Action - The Free Times #3 - The Purpose of School by Sophie Seeker

Date Sun, 23 Dec 2012 17:24:21 +0200

I remember hating how school worked. I hated how early it started, and I never really under­ stood why that was necessary. I hated the four minute time I had to walk between classes, in forty minute intervals, for six hours days ­plus the forty five to ninety minutes I had to spend in detention for being late for school in the morning, as I regularly was. --- The classes were easy, the tests were easy, the teachers were nice for the most part ­ and for some reason, I still found myself failing classes and ending up in summer school and detention. Why? Because of the way schools are structured. ---- Public education isn't really about education, and it never really has been. People who do well are people who turn in assignments on time, stick to a strict schedule, orga­ nize their materials, and come to class prepared. These are all good skills for college, but they're also things people with power and money don't have to worry about.

My senior year we had a
cool substitute everyone liked for
chemistry class . Very talkative,
very friendly. In a lab session
towards the end of the year not
much was going on. I shared some
musing on my education and anar­
chism (at the time I thought I was
completely alone), and he told me
that part of the state's mission state­
ment for schools was to "create
good citizens," above giving stu­
dents an education.

It's true that the public edu­
cation system was created for the
children of the working class, to
prepare them for a working class
future. It's also easy to see how
they aim to squash rebellion early
on if you take a moment to remem­
ber all the conditioning we went
through in our homerooms and his­
tory classes. The pledge of Alle­
giance has been recited in the morn­
ing every day, all year. In kinder­
garten, my teacher made it fun ­ and
we got to wear our name­hats and
she'd pick students to get to hold the
flag. Then we'd sing the national
anthem after the pledge, because it
was a fun group activity. Then there
was flag day; our little parade
around the neighborhood ­ and local
grown ups would even come outside
and cheer for us.

The history classes deserve
special recognition. I remember
"learning" Christopher Columbus
discovered America, I remember
learning communism was "bad" and
"doesn't work," I remember "why
did communism fail?" being on a
test. My teachers spouted horrors
done by other governments' leaders,
like Hitler for instance ­ when the
fact is that the United States would­
n't have been involved in the war if
Japan hadn't attacked Pearl Harbor
and the US didn't get involved in a
complicated web of alliances that
pushed them into Europe by obliga­
tion. Politics, not morals.

I also remember wishing I
had more of a world­context in
class. For instance, I remember ask­
ing a teacher why we weren't learn­
ing about wars we weren't involved
in, like the Spanish Civil War, and
he told me that there were far too
many little wars to talk about, and
said that the only significant thing
about the Spanish Civil War was
that it served as a preview of the
technology to be used in WWII.

What it all comes down to is
that the lack of freedom in schools
teaches us not to expect much as
adults, the biased views teach us to
reject philosophies millions of peo­
pled believed in in another part of
the world because they're somehow
ridiculous and impossible, that the
decisions made by authority figures
are morally correct, and that some
times we little people just can't
expect to understand what goes on
up there.

One thing to consider is that
though there are "rich" school dis­
tricts like Clarance and Amherst,
the people who are truly wealthy
aren't sending their children to pub­
lic schools. They've got tutors and
private schools that cost more in
tuition than I pay for college. There
are even exclusive and expensive
day care centers for wealthy tod­
dlers. Some wealthy parents even
send their children to Europe for
classes, where they learn a number
of languages, arts, etiquette, and sci­
ence and are immediately upon
graduation accepted into expensive
Ivy League schools based on their
high quality education, worldliness
and of course, affluence.

When I hear someone tell a
child they could be anything, I can't
help but think of the mediocre life
they're being conditioned for.


Who we are
Buffalo Class Action is a
revolutionary organization of
Anarchist Communists in Buffalo.
We strive to further our ideas of
social revolution while participating
directly in the day to day struggles of
the working class.

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