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Corporate Globalization Resistance

An International Student Union
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by The Wiseman

From infancy to the final semester at high school we are given mechanical facts in a sterile environment that only creates apathy for education and experiment. We are all born with the natural desire to learn, explore, and seek pleasure through knowledge and creativity. This is suppressed from the very beginning through the authoritarian family structure that teaches abstinence before sexual pleasure, emotional control and silence before expression, and manners before freedom of thought. Rather than develop our creative abilities and thought process, learning is taught to be a boring and tedious task that we must be forced to endure, rather than an exciting, experimental, and adventurous journey to discover the world around us. By destroying the individual desire to learn and express, the education system create a collective mass of individuals seperated from themselves while simultaneously apathetic to collective well-being. Learning becomes a passive action in response to facts presented in the most mechanical and boring fashion. Some would argue the benefits in the economic efficiency of the industrial model, but that is only in preparing the youth to be wage slaves under capitalism. It does not allow the individual to work towards what their talents would render most useful to themselves and society.

Capitalism and Taylorism in Education

Taylorism was the basic model for the assembly line and corporate efficiency; not to mention the public education system today known as the
industrial model. The goal was to create a division of labor where each laborer specializes in a certain task that they did not deviate from. This was for superefficiency and alienated the worker from the final product of his labor. The school system is simulteanously based on moving from station to station by the ring of a bell with the teacher as manager of the line. At each station one is taught an abstract subject of knowledge that is not interconnected with the other; the student is alienated from the decision making and the information as a whole.

The purchase of labor is the purchase of a human as property, as labor power cannot be seperated from the individual. One must sell their self as one's labor process includes one's mental and emotional abilities. This is intuitively known by the capitalist class due to their hiearchal position of power and ownership. Not only does public education pacify individual emotions and feelings but expands mental capabilities in a fashion that adds to labor value. To control the labor of an individual, one must control the personality and expression of the individual as well in order to keep him submissive and orderly. Thus education becomes a necessary safety measure against the natural desire for freedom and creativity. Its purpose is to adjust the brain to mechanical repetition of facts so as to numb it from the collective learning process. It applies the most standardized education for the entire mass and ignores the multiple ways in which different people learn. Failure to adapt to this industrial model will result in discipline from all directions in society as the student will be blamed for his or her lack of effort rather than be tended to for any special needs.

Behaviorism and Education

The
behaviorist model of discipline in the classroom setting replaces critical thinking and participatory decision making with the use of positive or negative reinforcement. Negative reinforcement is made possible through a collaboration of hiearchal factors in the life of children: teachers, faculty administration, parents, and sports coaches. It could come into play if a child displays "unruly behavior", "weak attention span", or "lack of educational progress". Not only is it met with a slap on the wrist but with a multitude of punishments and "cures" whether through timeout in the classroom, prescribed Ridalin, or even suspension followed by detention schools. Positive reinforcement can be anything from a gold star next to your name on the wall or even the grading system that simplistically labels educational strengths with percentages and letters. Learning in capitalist education is not for the sake of expanding one's self but to gain approval of the authorities within the system. Thus the system of rewards and punishments prepares the student for the drudgery of wage slavery, where capitalists use carrot-stick methods as tools to increase profit and control workers. Positive and negative reinforcement can be used by individual capitalists in multiple ways but the most common include: a) Workers increase productivity in fear of losing their jobs or lowering wages b) Workers increase productivity with the hope for higher wages or higher status in a company c) Workers control each other, telling the boss the conduct of other workers on the job for higher wages and higher status in the company.

Behaviorism originates from
Pavlovian thinking, not suprising when students and workers are conditioned to only passively react rather than actively construct. The justice system of society can be considered a Pavlovian model from its most basic concept: that one will be reward for upholding the laws of the system or imprisoned for going against them. Detention is the reflection of the prison system within the public school system; why else would teachers and other "reinforcers" tell rebellious students they are heading down the "path of failure" in life. The underlying purpose of all this is that the school system is designed to modify behavior and promote a mechanized thought process rather than provide creative learning in a free environment. Burrhus Frederic Skinner was a major influence on the public education system, encouraging rote learning and punitive discipline. The popular cartoon, The Simpsons, subtly criticizes the institutionalisation of the behaviorist model within the education system through the relationship of Principle Skinner and Bart Simpson in the Springfield public elementary school. B.F. Skinner was a psychologist who invented radical behaviorism and designed a schedule of reinforcements, which invokes predictable behavior by determining when responses or behaviors will be reinforced. Principle Skinner is a radical behaviorist as well, who is consistent in providing negative reinforcement to the rebellious behavior of Bart Simpson.

Class Education

Besides the inherent issues of capitalist education, class status also largely plays a role in determing the level of education one recieves. Capitalist youth are taught to maintain their class status effectively while working class youth are not taught what will help effectively escape their class status. Expensive private schools or well-funded public schools teach with the criteria of what is necessary to be the future masters, while poorly-funded public schools teach with the understanding that one must guide students to become decent wage slaves or prison inmates. Impoverished youth have a less education-friendly environment, unable to successfully prioritize education first due to income and all sorts of social problems. Add to the fact that education rarely allows anybody in their immediate viscinity to expand beyond their material conditions and create a situation where they can climb the socio-economic ladder. Neither does the education system provide means and assistance to solving the problems within working class communities. Nobody is taught self-defense against an aggressive police officer or the organizational skills necessary to combat the drug circulation and violence in their impoverished neighborhoods. They tell you that remaining in the system will help you to leave their community's problems behind, while those who drop out of the school system will be left to wallow in the disaster.

Negative Reinforcement By Class and Race

At the beginning I discussed capitalist education in general but how it factors with race is very important. Like most institutions in capitalist society, the working class is exploited or oppressed but when it comes to race, whites generally have the upperhand on people of color. As white institutions believe they hold the "moralistic and parental high ground" for people of color in general, its only obvious that behavior reinforcement would be extreme for black and Latino children. In the context of behavior reinforcement, it makes sense as those who believe they hold the "moralistic and parental high ground" are likely to enforce such a system. Entering a low-funded public school attended mostly by black and Latino children, is like stepping into a mental and physical prison. You have to walk through a metal detector or be individually searched while police and security guards stand throughout the hallways, monitoring student activity. Often former prisons are transformed into low-funded public schools, as if they're preparing the students for the inevitable. Negative reinforcement is taken to the absolute extreme in under-funded public schools; discipline from suspension to expulsion is dealt with far more harshly than white, higher income schools. In
49 out of 50 states, black students are far more likely to suffer sever discipline than are white students committing similar offenses. Across the country, blacks are 3.1 times as likely as whites to be suspended and 2.9 times as likely to be expelled. Zero tolerance policies, targeting gun violence and drug abuse in under-funded public schools, attempt to justify over-disciplinary action or arrest that could have been dealt with by the parents and the school's administration. School zone drug laws disproportionately affect black and Latino students, often including 1,000 to 1,500 ft. outside of the immediate school building. Many inner-city students live in this viscinity, making them at risk for expulsion for drug involvement around their own homes.

The "Achievement Gap"

The cirriculum in public education is overwhelmingly "Eurocentric", meaning it studies and exclusively teaches the achievements of white civilization in every institution of human society: politics and law, technology and science, culture and economics. SAT scores definitely vary by socioeconomic status but the cultural bias is evident in the fact that lower-income white students have an
average score better than wealthy black students. Low-performing black students on average are considered more "difficult" than low-performing white students and so recieve less teacher support. Teachers tend to go after the "high achievers" rather than focus their time on students who they percieve to not be interested or willing to learn. On average, teachers would rather teach white students and give them more support. White teachers generally tend to lean towards classifying energetic and participative black students as "lazy, talkative, and rebellious". Most kids subconsciously know that a teacher's preferences and expectations mean a lot to overall student performance. Student achievement is affected by numerous factors including a) Perceptions of education influenced by a student's view of achieving success in overall society b) Educational opportunities in the education system itself and c) The psychological effects of living in a society permeated with racist ideology and low academic expectations for people of color.

International Student Union: The Solution

An international student union is necessary for collective decision making in our education system; including necessary funding, school cirriculum, classroom environment, etc. The school cirriculum is a reflection of what the system deems necessary to prepare us for wage slavery and enforce racist, nationalist, and sexist ideology to divide the working class. What is needed is a large overhaul in the current cirriculum with democratic debate and discussion on what students and teachers see as a more exceptable criteria of education. However, what needs to be noticed is that the process of education begins from birth in one's experiences. The system itself renders a person apathetic towards education and higher learning from the years of infancy and this is the root of the problem. Race can not be excluded though. as black and Latino children are generally excluded from pre-K and even Kindergarden education, giving them a significant disadvantage within the system itself. Racism is a central issue to taking education within our hands; important if we want control over our own learning and development. What role will education play with the end of capitalism? Will education democratize first and bring about the necessary social conscious for a working class revolution? Its obvious that education is necessary to recognize and understand the institutional and inherent qualities of wage slavery and private property in capitalism. Not only to create a revolutionary situation but to refrain from repeating the past when it comes time to develop a new society. Student and teacher unions have historically taken a revolutionary role in multiple insurrections: a)
the 1968 revolution in France b) the anti-war movement in 1960-1970s America c) the Oaxaca Commune and d) the 2006 riots in France. An international student union to democratize education has the possibility to become the grave digger of the system.