i was at a faculty meeting today discussing a possibly wide-ranging change in our curriculum. one theme was how in the world to deal with, or as one of my colleagues put it, 'treat' the kids who are coming out of k-12 education. everyone nodded as people said things like, "they just want to be told what to do, all the time in every respect". "they think education is just jumping through hoops". "they have no intrinsic interest in the material; they don't even know what that would be like.' it was not me, believe it or not, who described k-12 education in this period as 'profoundly authoritarian'. 'they regard teachers as mechanical information-delivery systems.' 'when you really look at the common core, it's all designed to take the last shreds of autonomy from teachers'. and so on.
at one point, someone said, "well, i guess we all agree that these kids are being abused. the question is, what can we do to treat them or cure them of what they came in with, or of what our culture is now?"
you should really understand: this is a consensus in a faculty that is also more or less 100% left, people who to a person except me, might describe themselves as great proponents of public education, and who as a default position probably support most things the obama admin does. but look, we are all college teachers and there are certain things you just cannot see, every day. so what i wonder is: what in the world can be done about this? like universal surveillance - to which it is related in various ways - it flows on indifferently through democratic and republican adminstrations. well, both parties have deeply authoritarian basic orientations. and also, if you like, this approach is being driven by a particular economic vision, a particular version of technocratic capitalism, in which children are cogs. the personalities they are with some success attempting to manufacture cannot be and will not be citizens of a democracy, but of a squishy totalitarianism.