The Serpent's Egg

Mark Lause MLause at
Sun Aug 17 15:48:26 MDT 2003

Many early socialists--Robert Owen and others-- believed that new kinds
of schools dedicated to new kinds of learning would change society, I
think they had it backwards.  There won't be serious changes in
education until we have different things happening in society.  Indeed,
there has not been a single one in my lifetime proclaimed as a way of
opening education to women, minorities, "nontraditionals," etc. that
hasn't been recast into a bulwark of the status quo.  Give the present
educational institutions a set of democratic and socialist guidelines
and it will incorporate them without being able to change much of
anything in their final produce.

Probably it's no news to anyone who teaches or who has kids (or who
honestly recalls their own school days, in most cases) that there are
gender differences in learning.  Simply put, it is socially and
culturally more acceptable for girls to study hard and get good grades.
Although it declines a bit (for many reasons), the group difference
persist well into college.  Involvement in study groups (including
political organizations) provides different peer circles that redefine
what's acceptable and expected...but this doesn't effect most.

In the vast majority of schools that draw kids from plebeian
backgrounds, it is has been quite acceptable for women to do well,
because the society's going to limit their possibilities seriously.  In
my experience, as opportunities for women have expanded somewhat, larger
portions of the women in these institutions have begun to learn (or not
learn) the way the boys don't.  All these tendencies are more or less
emphasized depending on the obstacles of class and race that students

To recap, these aren't problems with how the school system works.  These
are functions that ARE the school system.  Wasn't it Allen Ginsberg who
called schools factories of despair?

Mark L.

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