Tag Archives: Cultural Hegemony

The Equity Kids

Have you seen this image before? Many presenters at events hosted by the foundation where I work have used several variations to help describe what equity versus equality might look like. Some are pixilated, some are done themselves, some are stick figures, and some detailed like the one below.

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Wearing my communications hat, I am often asked who created these images and/or if I will forward them to participants at our events. Being the recovering academic that I am, I have already scoured the net looking for attribution and for better quality versions long before people ask, but to no avail. I find the images, but they always lead to twitter or pinterest and have no attribution.

Early on I came across a version that included a third panel. The first time I saw it I had to take a second look, and let it sink in. Of course, why didn’t I think of that? Who put the fence there in the first place, and why doesn’t anyone look at the structural upstream barriers that are put in place by our society? If we would start making some real systems change maybe our talk of accommodations to overcome these barriers wouldn’t be needed in the first place.

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Well yesterday I was noodling/doodling around online at the ‪#‎NMKidsCount‬ conference, prompted by the usual two panel equality/equity image that came up in a presentation or two. I think I may have found the source of my favorite version of this illustration. And if that weren’t enough, it came along with a great bonus of a 4th blank box!

The Center for Story-based Strategy and the Interaction Institute for Social Change teamed up to do some Imaginaction work that they are calling #The4thBox. I think it’s a great exercise to just look at the image and consider each scenario and what each element in the image might represent, and how we might rewrite the story.

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The thing is that the team who created these panels have also made available a great paper-doll image/kit that you and your group can use to work through your own rewriting process. Be sure to download and use their image/kit in your work “to spark conversations. Use it to discuss the importance of not just telling a different version of the same story, but of actually changing the story (by challenging assumptions).”

What other story could be revealed in this setting?

What other “psychic break” could you make up?

What other underlying assumption here could you challenge?

Who built that wall in the first place and/or who took it away?

If you or anyone you know uses this kit be sure to have them share here, tag their new stories with the #‎The4thBox‬ hashtag, and share New Mexico specific stories with the ‪#‎The4thBoxNM‬ hashtag. I would love to see what people come up with, and the team that developed the kit would like to see the new stories too.

While you are there, be sure to check out the Center for Story-based Strategy’s other great materials. I am enjoying diving into their great theory, strategy, case studies, values, and principles. As I make my foray into Medium to see what it can do and if it’s right for the foundation, I may pull out some pieces from the Center for Story-based Strategy’s site that stand out. Stay tuned.

Remember, share ideas here or by using #The4thBox or #The4thBoxNM

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peace is every step

An informative documentary on the father of engaged Buddhism, meditative action in the midst the ravages of war.

Ideas mentioned here (sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly) are: Meditation in Action, Deep Looking, Deep Action, Reconciliation, Social Determinants of Health, Social Service, Social Work, Engaged Buddhism. Many of these ideas were being practiced in Mid-20th Century Vietnam, and growing out of the wars there, before we had the words for them.

The Educational System Was Designed to Keep Us Uneducated and Docile

modernschooling

http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/index.htm

http://www.thememoryhole.org/edu/school-mission.htm

It’s no secret that the US educational system doesn’t do a very good job. Like clockwork, studies show that America’s schoolkids lag behind their peers in pretty much every industrialized nation. We hear shocking statistics about the percentage of high-school seniors who can’t find the US on an unmarked map of the world or who don’t know who Abraham Lincoln was.

Fingers are pointed at various aspects of the schooling system—overcrowded classrooms, lack of funding, teachers who can’t pass competency exams in their fields, etc. But these are just secondary problems. Even if they were cleared up, schools would still suck. Why? Because they were designed to.

How can I make such a bold statement? How do I know why America’s public school system was designed the way it was (age-segregated, six to eight 50-minute classes in a row announced by Pavlovian bells, emphasis on rote memorization, lorded over by unquestionable authority figures, etc.)? Because the men who designed, funded, and implemented America’s formal educational system in the late 1800s and early 1900s wrote about what they were doing.

Almost all of these books, articles, and reports are out of print and hard to obtain. Luckily for us, John Taylor Gatto tracked them down. Gatto was voted the New York City Teacher of the Year three times and the New York State Teacher of the Year in 1991. But he became disillusioned with schools—the way they enforce conformity, the way they kill the natural creativity, inquisitiveness, and love of learning that every little child has at the beginning. So he began to dig into terra incognita, the roots of America’s educational system.

In 1888, the Senate Committee on Education was getting jittery about the localized, non-standardized, non-mandatory form of education that was actually teaching children to read at advanced levels, to comprehend history, and, egads, to think for themselves. The committee’s report stated, “We believe that education is one of the principal causes of discontent of late years manifesting itself among the laboring classes.”

By the turn of the century, America’s new educrats were pushing a new form of schooling with a new mission (and it wasn’t to teach). The famous philosopher and educator John Dewey wrote in 1897:

Every teacher should realize he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of the proper social order and the securing of the right social growth.

In his 1905 dissertation for Columbia Teachers College, Elwood Cubberly—the future Dean of Education at Stanford—wrote that schools should be factories “in which raw products, children, are to be shaped and formed into finished products…manufactured like nails, and the specifications for manufacturing will come from government and industry.”

The next year, the Rockefeller Education Board—which funded the creation of numerous public schools—issued a statement which read in part:

In our dreams…people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions [intellectual and character education] fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple…we will organize children…and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.

At the same time, William Torrey Harris, US Commissioner of Education from 1889 to 1906, wrote:

Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual.

In that same book, The Philosophy of Education, Harris also revealed:

The great purpose of school can be realized better in dark, airless, ugly places…. It is to master the physical self, to transcend the beauty of nature. School should develop the power to withdraw from the external world.

Several years later, President Woodrow Wilson would echo these sentiments in a speech to businessmen:

We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forego the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.

Writes Gatto: “Another major architect of standardized testing, H.H. Goddard, said in his book Human Efficiency (1920) that government schooling was about ‘the perfect organization of the hive.'”

While President of Harvard from 1933 to 1953, James Bryant Conant wrote that the change to a forced, rigid, potential-destroying educational system had been demanded by “certain industrialists and the innovative who were altering the nature of the industrial process.”

In other words, the captains of industry and government explicitly wanted an educational system that would maintain social order by teaching us just enough to get by but not enough so that we could think for ourselves, question the sociopolitical order, or communicate articulately. We were to become good worker-drones, with a razor-thin slice of the population—mainly the children of the captains of industry and government—to rise to the level where they could continue running things.

This was the openly admitted blueprint for the public schooling system, a blueprint which remains unchanged to this day. Although the true reasons behind it aren’t often publicly expressed, they’re apparently still known within education circles. Clinical psychologist Bruce E. Levine wrote in 2001:

I once consulted with a teacher of an extremely bright eight-year-old boy labeled with oppositional defiant disorder. I suggested that perhaps the boy didn’t have a disease, but was just bored. His teacher, a pleasant woman, agreed with me. However, she added, “They told us at the state conference that our job is to get them ready for the work world…that the children have to get used to not being stimulated all the time or they will lose their jobs in the real world.”