Education is a public good in the strict sense of commodity. Unlike private goods-material items sold for profit-public goods, arguably, are difficult to manage and equate into profit. However, like all things American that doesn’t mean a price cannot be attached to them. Thus, education-that is, raw knowledge-must be compartmentalized and packaged so as it fits into the capitalist scheme of profitability. Profitability, not insomuch as what the receiving party is to gain by acquiring it, but rather more of which the industry of education is to gain by peddling degrees and certifications. Here, we must understand how it is that the “training” and “banking” concepts of education that Dr. Akbar and Freire speak of work to the advantage of the educational industry’s monetary gain.
Freire provides that people are adaptable, manageable beings who generally accept the world as it has been put to them with little to no resistance or questioning. Here, his theories greatly assist to provide understanding as to how it is that majority of people in industrial societies are made dependant upon the fluctuations and educational demands (i.e., training) of the market economy. By simply conditioning society to be dependant upon the various material comforts, goods and services offered in the market economy there develops occupational roles, which in turn create the need for occupational training. It is in this way that the educational industry is able to attend this need and turn a profit.
To accommodate this industry we are conditioned from birth, from K-12 to rely on a facilitator. Here, emphasis must be placed on the fact that this is not a matter of nature taking course. Rather, people who seize upon our natal dependency of others who put to us the concepts of the world as they have either accepted it themselves or created it with the intent of influencing us to become working components of their endeavors. In either case we are made to exhaust countless resources and years of attendance crowding the halls of costly “training” facilities (i.e., the numerous vocational schools, colleges, etc. of contemporary study which number in access of the tens of thousands) because we have failed to take the initiative to self-educate, self-evaluate, and conceive from our intuition. And to think, the same books and education that we pay for can be found for free at the public library. Because of this, and this alone, we will be made to return again and again so as to enhance our training once it no longer suits the demands of the market.
Consider, for example, how the rapid advancement of computer technology during the 1980s forced the industrial worker to return to school obtain the necessary skill-set for gainful employment. Here, I must digress to mention how the development of the PC, Internet, and wireless communication has ushered in the Information Age that today has information at our figure tips. With the dramatic increase in the availability of computer technology there would be a systematic implementation of computer “training” at every level of the work force and America’s educational structure from K-12.
Here marks the beginning of an era, as in the age of industrialization, where the nation’s educational infrastructure was again out-fitted to accommodate the market demands of technology. Consequently, the education industry would not only assist to train an effective “work force,” but so too stimulate the consumption of this technology.
As with other institutions, the institution of education that Americans rely upon to train their children is instrumental in the formation of human capital that’s to be exploited by American Big Business. Education for the capitalist is yet another form of investment that increases the availability of highly skilled, imaginative and creative human resource. Accepted as such, what has been labeled as education is in all actuality “training” that tends to be nothing more than an expendable exercise of contemporary value to our exploiters. This explains in part why college dropouts like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg create charities that donate large amounts of money to support the American educational industry.
I liken American education to a raw product because it has come to symbolize an integral part of social and capital gain. It’s been fashioned as the most fundamental requirement to achieving the AmeriKKKan Dream. Its material worth, thereby, solidifies its commerce in the markets of the mind-the currency of knowledge. This age old fact can be traced to the earliest etchings of history. We find in ancient Athens, for example, a dilemma that would arise as consequence to education being commodified. As the story goes a free Greek teacher and Roman father, who evidently was caught between a rock and a hard place when trying to decide between the quality of his son’s education and its inordinate expense, negotiate: “How much will you charge to teach my son?,” the father asked Aristippus. “A thousand drachmae,” replied Aristippus, who obviously had a high opinion of his worth. “But I can buy a slave for that,” returned the father, to which the sharpwitted Aristippus rejoined: “Then you will have two slaves-your son and the one you buy!”” What this serves to notice us to is the leverage the endowed have in extorting the less endowed to obtain training.
For America this relationship would begin to take shape during the era of industrialism. While formal and secondary education had long been available to the privileged classes, with industrialization came the need to educate (i.e., train) the masses. For the children of all races were to be trained in the kind of industrial occupations that would serve the industrialist market and capitalist needs.. These were the market forces noted throughout history that constructed schools like Tuskegee Institute and those mentioned elsewhere that catered to Black Americans…
These industrial training camps would in time make wage slaves of not only Blacks, but so too the entire white lower class. Here I must digress to say: for the best of me I can’t figure out how it was that leaders in the Black community were persuaded to primarily focus on industrial education. It just don’t add up. How was it that the freedmen, previously slaves and thus master of all trades, were now striving to make an industrial skill-set the focus of their educational institutions? It makes absolutely no sense to pursue training in something you have had a monopoly on for over 400 years.
By the end of the Second World War the growing demand for a specific skill-set gave equal, if not greater impetus to the notion of monetary exchange for skill development and certification. With the call to war multi-billion dollar defense contracts would be awarded to the nation’s builders of war machines and technology. Subsequently, this transformed the work force overnight to become dependant upon wartime industry and the particular skill-set germane to furthering America’s foreign endeavors. As a matter of course the particular skill-set required was (as it is today) prompted by warmongering politicians and businessmen who controlled the markets and economy of war. Notably, the history of capitalism, as taught by Marx and those who came before him (n.b., Comte Henri de Saint-Simon (1760-1825), François-Marie-Charles Fourier (1772-1837), Welshman Robert Owen (1771-1858), had taught these men that to control technology was to control the markets and thus control the livelihood of the masses and what they were to be instructed on in American schools. It is in this way that technology, the markets, the work force and America’s educational institutions are but the tools of capitalism.
Thus, it was inevitable that with the industrialization of America the nation’s educational institution would be built upon capitalist values and attitudes that in time would come to dominate and compromise the intent of education. For the aims of this educational structure came to be what Frantz Fanon so aptly described as “nothing but the re-establishment and re-enforcement of values and institutions of a given society.” In this case, a capitalist society!
The question now turns to: How is it capitalist values and attitudes compromise the integrity of the educational process? Here, we must understand the ways to which society’s values, goals, and ideas are shaped by American institutions in order to grasp how they organize and promote and benefit the their capitalist aims. Here, one must first ponder what set of circumstances or factors give rise to potential profits when considering the character and intent of this industry from a capitalistic perspective? Immediately, what comes to mind is a given considering the title of this section which directs us to rationalize education in the context of a commodity, an article of trade, a raw but abstract material or product to be exchanged at an incurred cost that has been deemed “necessary” by market forces and the belief that education is available by only attending American schools.
In a capitalist economy it is true that education is necessary to uplift one’s social and/or economic standing. However, the point here is to bring attention to the misgivings purported by the educational industry. Here, we must view with distrust the aims of this industry and the emphasis generally placed on attending one of its many “training” facilities in light of the history Du Bois has provided. I say this not because we don’t “learn” within them, but moreso because of “what” we don’t learn about them having such a powerful and pulling affect on the development of our values, ideas, and objectives. As this suggests, these institutions affect our ability to “think” independently of the curriculum laid out before us. In other words, they teach us what to think and not how to think; what to learn instead of how to learn. By following such a directive we mindlessly become assets to the capitalist endeavor.
That said, we must observe the power wielded over society by America’s politicians and businessmen. As industrial history has shown they have a profound ability to shape our values, goals, roles, and personality structures. Unquestionably then, they wield the ability to shape our conscious. To this end Wilson provides:
… consciousness is about power, whether as generated and exercised by oneself and/or others. It is the medium by which the individual and others control his state of being and behavior. To the degree that others shape and direct the individual’s consciousness, to that degree is his state of being and behavior under their control… In sum, consciousness is an instrument of social control and power. It is the means by which personal and social behavior is controlled. Hence, the society and culture, particularly those who represent and direct the consciousness of each of the society’s and culture’s members in ways which maintain their integrity and advance their… interests. It is through its shaping and directing of individual consciousness that the society achieves social control, i.e., power over individual consciousness thereby becomes the society’s instrument of social control..
Ultimately, what is of chief importance to the nation’s politicians and businessmen-we are incidentally informed of by Peter J. Burke and Jan E. Stets’ Identity Theory:
… what maintains the patterned and coordinated flows and transformations of resources… is the functions that individuals provide through their behavior and the organization of that behavior… [T]he basic operation of identities is a control system seeking to match perceptions (inputs) [indoctrinated by the training process] with standards [set by politicians and businessmen] … [B]oth perceptions and standards are coded in terms of meaning, both sign meanings and symbol meanings [e.g., diplomas, degrees-equal wealth]. The fundamental action of identities is, therefore, to alter situations in such a way that the meanings of the signs and symbols that are perceived in the situation match the meanings held in the identity standard… [Thus], identities using persons as their agents maintain the patterned and coordinated flows of resources. Identities (not persons) are responsible for the vast network of resource transfers and transformations..
Here lies the true definition of power-the ability to create and control the identities and behaviors of mankind. As noted in Thomas Dye’s Power and Society:
… the most important bases of stratification in a modern industrial society are the different roles that individuals play in the economic system. Individuals are ranked according to how they make their living and how much control they exercise over the livelihood of others.
Chapter 5 excerpt from incarcerated author Ivan Kilgore’s recently published book Domestic Genocide: The Institutionalization of Society. READ more excerpts at http://www.willisraisedblog.wordpress.com. Friend Ivan at Facebook. Contact him at:
Ivan Kilgore V31306
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