School 'revolution' proved disastrous

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Liang Jiajie
School 'revolution' proved disastrous

 

Liang Jiajie

quote:


Judging by the stuff appearing of late in the national media, we are beginning to discover that our school system has been fairly well ruined by crackpot ideas, introduced in the 1950s by reformers of supposedly unchallengeable authority.

[url=http://calsun.canoe.ca/News/Columnists/Byfield_Ted/2007/09/02/4464974-su...

He should consider China's experience with his proposed educational system. It was a complete failure and ruined a generation. Schools and universities were closed in China during the 1960s and for most of the 1970s because authorities believed that work was more important than education. Millions of teenagers were sent to work on farms and in factories to "learn" how to be a worker and gain "knowledge" about the importance of work in the communist revolution. The result was a generation of miserable persons who regretted and despised not having the opportunity to pursue intellectual endeavours and be fulfilled by it. As a result, they fell behind 10-15 years and China lost the potential of a generation.

Many began their education and training in their late 20s and 30s while trying to raise a family at the same time. It caused divorces, broken homes, and premature deaths.

The article lacks a historical and world perspective.

jeff house

Possibly the Chinese experience is too different to be much relevant.

I mean, the Cultural Revolution differed quite a bit from Canadian school policies in the 1950's.

quote:

Fall 1966: Mao closes schools and calls for the formation of the Red Guards to challenge Party officials and to attack anything bourgeois. Millions heed his call. Officials, intellectuals and generally older people in positions of power and influence are attacked verbally and physically by the Red Guards.

[url=http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/cultrev.htm]http://www.sjsu.edu/facu...

In Canada, the analogue to this stage was when students began smoking on school property.

Le T Le T's picture

The author of the article also chooses not to acknowledge the continued underfunding of schools all across Canada, the growth of class sizes, the lack of good teacher training, standardized tests and curriculum, etc.

Then he blames John Dewey and "progress". Wishing instead for the good old days of corporal punishment and memorizing random facts. What an idiot. I wonder where he went to school?

It's a pretty bad "article" and the Calgary Sun is a pretty bad "paper".

Liang Jiajie

quote:


Possibly the Chinese experience is too different to be much relevant.

I mean, the Cultural Revolution differed quite a bit from Canadian school policies in the 1950's.


I agree that the methods used to close schools and many other details are not relevant to the Canadian experience, but the message that the columnist is sending is similar to a particular string of Mao's ideology that placed work before anything else. Mao believed that work was the only way a person could be a communist and achieve enlightenment while Ted Byfield argues that beginning work at the age of 12 is the only way one can reach adulthood. They place manual labour as the only means to create their ideal society and deny young persons the opportunity to develop interests and their critical thinking skills -- things that are done in high school. One difference is that Byfield would allow a small number to continue their education and become technocrats, while the rest of the population works and becomes subservient to state rulers, which is what happened to many Chinese, because of their lack of education. It is elitist, and it stifles the human mind and the potential of young persons. I also detect anti-intellectualism in the article which Mao also espoused.

Byfield proposes "adult education" but I think it is unfair to make people go to school, work, and raise a family at the same time. The young should focus on their education. He also ignores that many students have part-time jobs, experience the stress of relationships and of the pressure to achieve, and worry about money -- things all "adults" experience.

Byfield is very vague about his proposition, but the essence of his message is very familiar to me.

[ 03 September 2007: Message edited by: Liang Jiajie ]

[ 03 September 2007: Message edited by: Liang Jiajie ]

KingMob

My favorite phrase from this article:

quote:

Many zillions of words

jeff house

I think we should send this to Ted Byfield:

quote:

Mao believed that work was the only way a person could be a communist and achieve enlightenment while Ted Byfield argues that beginning work at the age of 12 is the only way one can reach adulthood.

Fidel

quote:


Originally posted by Liang Jiajie:
[b]
Many began their education and training in their late 20s and 30s while trying to raise a family at the same time. It caused divorces, broken homes, and premature deaths.[/b]

Sounds like Canada today. Tens of thousands in the U.S. and Canada report having bad credit and living hand to mouth because of it. Some report being refused everything from mortgages to job offers because of bad credit and pointing to oppressive student loan debt levels as the source of the problem. I worked with two Chinese emigres at a large telecom company in Ottawa. They came with degrees in hand from Beijing and couldn't believe the amount of student loan debt some of us were under pressure to pay back.

Michelle

Don't you just love this?

quote:

One national newspaper deplores the "social pass" as producing tens of thousands of so-called high school graduates who can scarcely read and write. Another bewails the fact that young people simply are not becoming adults.

They acquire one academic credential after another, often living with their parents until they're 30, and never getting a permanent job.


First, he contradicts himself. He says that students nowadays are illiterate when they graduate high school. Then he goes on to say that they acquire numerous academic credentials. Kind of hard to do when you're illiterate, don't you think?

Secondly, what permanent jobs? Oh, I'm sorry, is he talking about the kind of permanent jobs that companies are constantly "downsizing" and "rightsizing" everyone out of, and usually the people with the least seniority - yep, that would be young people?

Is he talking about all those fantastic permanent jobs at McDonald's? Except, oh wait, those aren't permanent! Is he talking about the explosion of part-time retail jobs? Gosh yes, I can't imagine why some young person would need to live at home with her parents when she's working 30 hours a week at $8 an hour!

Seriously, what the fuck? It's hard to even get into the door of an office job that pays a living wage (you know, what you need in order to move out of Mom and Dad's basement?) without postsecondary education of some kind.

But no, it's easier to just blame all those damn illiterate kids getting university educations because there are no decent jobs out there anymore.

You know, my dad is a conservative, but he recognizes that the labour situation has changed drastically since he was a kid in the 50's and it wasn't because of the Dewey method. It's because companies are allowed to take corporate welfare and then chop half their workforce, taking away the real jobs that the corporate welfare was supposed to create. It's because many corporations no longer have any interest in giving people company careers. They don't want to train you and they don't want to promote you. They want you to go in, already trained, and do a job for a little while, until they can figure out how to do it without you and then lay you off.

The damned federal government throughout the 90's encouraged this shit by forcing unemployed people to sing for their supper at Employment Insurance group sessions, where they were told all about this wonderful, brave new world where they were "Me Incorporated" and should never expect anything from employers other than pink slips, and how the principles unions have fought for are dead now, and how much better it is now that people can be the masters of their own destinies. It's bullshit.

Some conservatives like my father recognize this. He recognized that the job situation was way, WAY different for me than it was for him when he left high school. He went from high school to a decent, entry-level civil service job, and had his whole career there. Think you can do that now? Think again. The occasional lucky person can. Or you could get an entry level job in a private sector corporation.

Now what kind of jobs are there? When I left high school, you could get minimum wage jobs. Nowadays, you can get office jobs - in call centres, on the phone all day harrassing people during dinner hour. Wow, what a great break.

It really pisses me off when conservatives blame young people for not getting out of their parents' homes quickly enough. It's because of the economic policies they support that we can't get decent jobs until we're in our late 20's and early 30's, after getting postsecondary education.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

What caught my attention was this:

quote:

The Canadian news media, so it seems, are finally getting on to a story that broke about 50 years ago, which they missed at the time and have been missing ever since.

I know, because I was one of the reporters who missed it.


"How the hell did he miss a story 5 decades ago." I wondered. So I searched. He was born the year the Great Depression hit, 1929. I'm prepared to humour the geezer.

Michael Hardner

quote:


The damned federal government throughout the 90's encouraged this shit by forcing unemployed people to sing for their supper at Employment Insurance group sessions, where they were told all about this wonderful, brave new world where they were "Me Incorporated" and should never expect anything from employers other than pink slips, and how the principles unions have fought for are dead now, and how much better it is now that people can be the masters of their own destinies. It's bullshit.

Michelle - I agree, but I do think the government was right to warn people that companies were going in that direction.

We need to adapt to this. Here are some ways:

1) Show no loyalty to any company whatsoever.
2) Take a job that pays less, but treats people more humanely. The more we value humane companies, the better they will do.
3) Organize a campaign with coworkers to publicize your salaries. This idea terrifies employers because it affects their ability to play employees off against each other.
4) Keep your sense of humour. If you start to lose it, then quit.

Most importantly:

5) Stay out of debt as much as you can. The more you consume, the more debt you have, the more you're tied to your job.

saga saga's picture

quote:


Originally posted by Michelle:
[b]Don't you just love this?

First, he contradicts himself. He says that students nowadays are illiterate when they graduate high school. Then he goes on to say that they acquire numerous academic credentials. Kind of hard to do when you're illiterate, don't you think?

...
It really pisses me off when conservatives blame young people for not getting out of their parents' homes quickly enough. It's because of the economic policies they support that we can't get decent jobs until we're in our late 20's and early 30's, after getting postsecondary education.[/b]


AW come on ... we all know it's because we are such cool Moms and Dads to have around the house ! [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]

He's blowing smoke out his ... ears. Making malicious judgments about the young ... it's age-ism.

Fidel

quote:


Originally posted by Michael Hardner:
[b]

Michelle - I agree, but I do think the government was right to warn people that companies were going in that direction.[/b]


What the guvmint told Canadians as they were signing FTA and NAFTA was that we would shed old economy jobs to make way for the "new economy", the information slash knowledge based economy. They told us Canadians don't really want to do menial, repetitive manufacturing and primary-secondary industry jobs for decent wages and benefits, pension plans etc. They told us we need flexible labour markets in order to release the "creativity" and dynamics locked deep within the bowels of unbridled capitalism.

Besides, capitalists have this innate desire to help poor people like in third world countries where socialists were overthro... I mean where free market ideas are now taking root and economic long run still running on the clock.

Since that time, we've barely begun creating full-time payroll jobs in the kinds of numbers they were created in the 14 years before FTA in 1989. Industry Canada and Pierre Fortin said Canadian full-time job creation in the 1990's sucked here more than in any other developed nation in that decade. And the "new economy", the one that never existed, is going away. [url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20070903.RJOBS03/TPStor... in Canada still suck says Gob and Pail[/url]

People want to do meaningful work. Many people would enjoy work more if they knew they were contributing to a common cause. What they don't want is to have few choices but to waste their time on this earth donating sweat, blood and tears to mind-numbing low wage philanthropy for the sake of making a few capitalists even richer.

[ 03 September 2007: Message edited by: Fidel ]

Michelle

quote:


Originally posted by Michael Hardner:
[b]Michelle - I agree, but I do think the government was right to warn people that companies were going in that direction.[/b]

They didn't just warn people. They told them it was a great thing. I know: I used to work for one of the contractors who put on these mandatory Employment Insurance sessions. At the time, I didn't recognize it for the propaganda it was. It helped people feel better, because we were very encouraging to the people who were newly unemployed (at least we were nice to the people, which is more than you can say for the people with secure jobs at HRDC - we heard about that all the time, too). But basically, we preached self-sufficience in a time when jobs were completely unstable.

Tommy_Paine

quote:


If nearly everybody at 12 or 13 joined the work force, they would in fact become part of the adult world.

And an easily exploitable work force. But then, maybe hospitals could benefit having such kids recycle old syringes for them instead of just incinerating them. Watch out for the pricky point, boys and girls!

Ted Byfield is a looney from way back.

Thing is, every generation bemoans the lack of standards in the next generation's education.

We should expect changes from one generation to the next. Circumstances change. New information comes to light. Skills needed in the 1930's are, obviously different skills needed today. So we no longer have classes in penmanship, for example.

There are problems with these changes, however. No matter who is in control of the new ideas, there is a tendency to throw the baby out with the bath water. And there is always the political angle. Some subjects are not taught, some text books are selected for what truths they hide.

But, no matter from what perspective these changes are wrought, either progressive or conservative in nature and politics, there is a conspiracy to keep people just smart enough to control, but ignorant enough not to be able to challenge anyone in authority.

This has been the constant in education since, probably, forever.