To all the students of the world, who sit or have sat in classrooms biding time, deaf and blind to the irrelevant content that controls the future commercial value of your lives… we will not presume to tell you something that you do not already know, but we would like the opportunity to engage you in what we think: the institution of education was made to fail you.
The problem is not necessarily that you are naturally not smart or hard working enough or that you are lazy or essentially flawed in some way that prevents you from excelling – this institution was simply not shaped for you. It was shaped for others who don’t question authority. For those who can accept or adapt to being told what is relevant and what is not, what is valuable and what is not, and for what reasons these things are what they are. It was shaped for those who can afford the luxury of a safe and supportive environment, one that refuses at all costs to let them fail in their education.
To understand the built-in failure feature of the education system, it helps to look at the kind of world institutionalized education has shaped for us as reflected in the world we live in today. This institution was designed to give us skills that were deemed important for a certain system, for a certain purpose, educating for industrialization, modernization, and progress. The world has been schooled towards its current globalized form – one of capitalism and consumption.
But what is wrong with this form as we experience it everyday? It is in the form of global hegemonic imperialism (words definitely worth looking up and understanding well, if they’re not already familiar) that supports and values only one way of life at the expense of all others. Valuing competition over collaboration, and allowing for some to survive and others to rot, which follows the logic of winning and losing, achieving and underachieving, passing and failing.
This preparation for an unforgiving and unfair system may be the purpose of education and schools, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the purpose of learning. Life is as colorful, varied, and dynamic as learners are and as learning environments should be. The intrinsic limitations and constraints of the education system should not determine the horizons of our learning. Our communal salvation lies in all of us, and is threatened with each person that the classroom fails, as that person becomes vulnerable to the worst that our system has to offer, creating one more face in the groups of millions that must struggle to survive at whatever expense.
So for those of you, like us, who cannot fathom sitting in one position for hours on end being talked at by a “certified expert”, these words are for you. We cannot be passive learners waiting for others to determine relevant information to be deposited into our minds. Learning most often happens without grades, as life is a repository of knowledge and people are bountiful resources. If we see the value in ourselves and take learning into our own hands, with the purpose of collaboration and inclusion, we can begin to dismantle education and the destructive system it supports for the sake of learning and existing without posing a threat to our existence.