Did you have a good weekend? I know I did. I mean we’re back on the grind with day 4 of blog posts! I left off last time with an allusion to education and learning in relation to how it is influenced by our sexual activity. I’d like to take this time to delve deeper into ideas about education, which is something that (despite having little interest in being a teacher) is very dear to my heart—and also is something that I have done quite a bit of research into to understand on a deeper level. Specifically, I’d like to discuss the influence of biopower and biopolitics on education.
Biopower is effectively a system that emerged to the forefront in society in history around 1890, with the fall of sovereignty—aka the system of kings. It is, in Layman’s terms, the use of peer pressure and social norms to control people instead of the word of a single ruler. BIopolitics are the application of Biopower to politics, which means making laws as defined by biopolitics. Michel Foucault was the prominent philosopher who popularized this as an archetype for society. Through this lens, a categorization of people occurs—someone is either part of the “normal” group, or someone is an outsider. Of course, we have demonized outsiders, which makes the normal people an exclusive group.
But Cassady! America is an individualistic country! We impress the idea that anyone can be anything if they work hard enough, and that each person is equal, unique and different! Yeah. Sure. Which is why for decades men have had to be dominant while women were submissive, blacks are expected to listen to rap and rob people, and the standard for female beauty is a size 0. Grow up. That’s the beauty of Biopower. A person can do anything they want—nobody will stop someone from doing their own thing. But they will get weird looks, and less people who will support them. So it’s better to stick with the norms.
In terms of education, we have normalized the learning process. Which is not all bad—I mean, education is the bedrock of a well-versed society. But there are problems with it. Most notably is the lack of original thought. Of course, a lot of ideas nowadays are not original—rather building off the idea as others. Take, for example, my attack on high brain and low brain thought. I could not even formulate that offensive without the depths of research into brain structures and the basic aspects of philosophy. At schools, however, there are not just lectures to give background information, but a complete and total focus on getting people through school. The game had changed. It’s not about learning anymore. It’s about, as Paulo Freire put it, filling vessels with information. Every cup that is a students mind gets filled with the same liquid, simply filtered differently through the various teachers.
Every student has to be 2 parts history, 2 parts English, 3 parts mathematics, 3 parts science, and 1 part social. And within those parts, they all have to meet specific standards. In theory, this is great for learning. It pinpoints things that every student should have knowledge about—for example, everyone probably should have a basic understanding of World War II, Algebra, and Grammar. But from there, why do we have to specifically read about Huck Finn? That’s just adding history to English classes? Why not learn about something that matters right now? Why does it take us until we reach college to be assigned a book like A Gate at the Stairs or Clay Walls? How come we aren’t assigning things like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? These are great, real world novels that display modern issues. Sure, they are gritty, and maybe people are afraid of ruining the innocence of their children. I have news for those people: knowledge isn’t innocent. People rape. People murder. People cheat. People are assholes. It takes knowledge to overcome and learn how to deal with these issues, and knowledge only comes out of the exposure. Nobody can learn how to read without picking up a book. It just doesn’t happen. We need to stop being afraid of what could hurt people, and confront it. Figure out the roots for why people are feeling violent, and solve it. Censoring teachers and rigidly defining what people learn for their first 18 years of their lives is not going to cultivate any new seeds of thought.