- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Anti-intellectual culture & state education.

Posted by: Gee ( si ) on October 08, 1999 at 12:09:45:

In a previous post Stoller asks the question "Can you not entertain the idea that the anti-intellectual climate of the country---with its high-profile ideology of success without education---is not intended to counteract a policy of making education inaccessible to 75% of the population?"

This thought, that the great majority sifted via a government near monopoly in education are deliberately raised to be uncritical and to venerate 'success without education' as offered by sporting, acting and popstar role models, is not peculiar to socialist thinking.

This struck me as an amazing parallel with libertarian / free market / objectivist thinking.

Wherever you find such texts you find almost parallel criticisms of state education - with the most virulent accusing the state of monopolising state education and thus denying choice to those less well off (by forcing a 'contract' between state and taxpayer) and in generating a Dewey influenced education culture inimical to independant critical thinking, in filtering history and other subjects to fit with state preferences. Even less 'extreme' criticisms accuse state education of resulting in the above afflictions via incompetence, buraucracy and very weak influence of parental choice as compared to 'vote with feet' private education or even voucher based handouts.

So 1) socialists might argue that state education is controlled via 'the master capitalists' in some way so as to produce a 'class' of uncritical proles and 2) libertarians might argue that state education is controlled in denial of choice by a self serving political elite in order to exert power over the population at large and to have children who grow up without criticising them, instead remaining dependant for guidance upon them.

Even SDF's criticism, that students are offered several authoritarian figures per day in their 50 minute sessions in detriment to their development will find agreement among libertarians. One might even guess that (genuine) socialists and libertarians would both favor, for instance, a montessori school over a state one.

The criticism that 'the system' fails children in part by failing to teach actual skills in the sciences, math and english and spends too much time pursuing various open ended, highly subjective studies in 'social studies' of one kind or another is generally a conservative criticism. (I would point out that religious conservatives sometimes have an odd idea of what constitutes science). Regardless, the literacy & mathematical ability of school leavers is something of a topic of shame in popular newspapers and is offered with all manner of trended evidence and international comparison.

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