Friday, August 25, 2006

The case for homeschooling

Today, I lamented over just how little I learned in high school. History, government, science, economics, whoops, all down the drain. Despite AP/Honors curriculum. Does anyone feel the same? After doing some searches, I found some compelling arguments for the intellectually- dead conditions of our schooling system. Some of it overlaps with what I learned in Soc of Ed last semester, mainly that the main purpose of schooling is not to educate, but to indoctrinate.

A high school valedictorian's graduation speech takes a surprising turn as he lambastes the public education system for its cookie- cutter, thought- suppressing pedagogy. As he says, "the spirit of intellectual thought is lost."

Points from Everett Reimer’s School is Dead: Alternatives in Education, An Indictment of the system and a Strategy of Revolution.

He writes that institutionalized school fulfills four distinct functions:

  1. Custodial care: this is where most of the school budget goes - child care
  2. Social-role selection: the sorting of the young into social slots they will occupy in adult life
  3. Indoctrination: children learn conformity, hierarchy, and dependency on others for learning what is deemed important
  4. Education as defined in terms of the development of skills and knowledge: The real question, writes Reimer, is whether children can’t learn more/better on their own outside of compulsory schooling. “People forget that there were educated men (sic) before there were schools…” (92)

Reimer calls school an “institutional prop for privilege”. School creates a hierarchy of privilege; the education system is the indoctrination of youth into a technological, capitalist system.

Quotes from Nobel prize winners who denounce public schooling.

Question is, before long, why were most of us, the students, already uninterested in learning? We hardly even wonder, question, ponder, or seek truth. Ignorance is a highly effective form of social control, then.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The world's problems

Thomas Carlyle, "Every noble work is at first [seemingly] impossible." (adjective added by me)

Saw An Inconvenient Truth yesterday. Fact is, the problem of global warming is exceedingly inconvenient to deal with. Could the world really end in a hot way in a mere 50- 100 years? And we can halt the process by doing something about it now? It seems impossible to change our set ways here in America. It's just so wasteful and excessive how we live in comparison to people in other countries. 1 Ex. big honkin' trucks here.. vs. super fuel- efficient cars in Asia. Rather than rant on and on, I'd like to reflect on how huge of a task it'll be to get most people to be green. Funny how this sort of responsibility to our current home, the earth, has a phrase set apart for it: green. It doesn't imply a sense of normality or ethicality, but is considered an oddity and has been inducing the rolling of eyes and annoyance for a while now.

I guess the thing about some things is that those who are aware can't just be spiteful and wait until it's too late to say 'I told you so' to the non-carers, because then, it really is too late.

God, the world is just riddled with problems. Global warming, AIDS, wars in the Middle East, famines in Africa, lives still devastated by natural disasters, those are some of the big ones. There must be something more right than and between (1) not caring and going on with life as if nothing was happening and (2) being consumed by despair, choked, shocked, frozen . We (or at least I) are extremely privileged to be mostly untouched by them.. but really, who knows how long that will last?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Postcard to Iraq

Isn't this nice? Pick out a picture postcard, attach a message, and Xerox will send it to an American soldier in Iraq for free. Here.

Places I don't want to go

So, the summer laze has kicked in and I decided to start a film watching spree. Being mindful of moderation, I only rented four from Blockbuster. WARNING: Spoilers ahead, but I don't think they'll detract very much if you decided to watch them.

#1. Mysterious Skin. I had no idea what I was in for when I popped in this 2005 indie critics' darling. Note: Those rave reviews on film cases are not to be trusted, especially on more recent releases, as they were hand-picked by the producers and more deceptive than ever. In short, MS is one of the most disturbing movies I have ever seen, primarily for its sexually graphic scenes and themes. (It's unrated, but apparently the theatrical version is NC-17, I later found out.) The film deals with pedophilia, homosexuality, gay prostitution, and the trauma of sexual abuse. Besides the shock factor, it left me utterly befuddled about Hollywood's stance on those intertwined issues above. (Not that Hollywood anywhere near resembles the public population in terms of their views.) It sounded like 'bad, ok, not so good, and bad.' What?? The value assignments all seem so arbitrary. After searching long and hard for a Christian review and finding no such thing, the closest thing I found was a sneering remark by a non- Christian against Christian fundamentalists who would probably reject the film for its portrayal of 'immoral behavior.' There is no evidence for or against this, except that few Christians have probably seen it to make that sort of judgment. Joseph Gordon Hewitt did a smashing performance as one of the lead characters, though. One thing I'm glad this movie taught me is that even though it was highly acclaimed for its masterful filmmaking, being good art is not the only criterion for watching movies or experiencing any other kind of art. Meaning, I really didn't need to see this film.

#2. The Virgin Suicides. I thought I was doing myself in by watching this one hours after being pummelled by two sordid tales of sexual abuse. The title itself is so suggestive and racy, a perfect moniker for a modern cult- classic. But besides featuring the charming Kirsten Dunst and Josh Hartnett with a hotness- extinguishing haircut, this movie was plain vanilla boring. And shallow. Romanticizing the pointless suicides of five suburbanite teenage girls from the eyes of their prepubescent male counterparts, whose nameless characters were barely developed anyway? Please. There are more serious and substantial topics worthy of million dollar undertakings. Perhaps if I was eight years younger (age of the first Lisbon daughter who committed suicide .. boo hoo) and had an unnaturally long attention span I would have enjoyed this self- indulgent film and tucked it away as an triumphant teenage piece against clueless adults. There was nothing violent here, just haze, soft fantasies, and a handful of odd scenes meant to be meaningful but ultimately weren't. Sofia Coppola, even though I like your style (outside of filmmaking), that's already two strikes out. (No, I wasn't entranced by the plodding Lost in Translation either. Anyone care to explain?) At least the soundtrack was really good.

#3 and #4. Taxi Driver and The Manchurian Candidate. Now we're getting to the real time- tested classics, so hopefully no more of this disappointment or deception.