I submit that the current goal of education in the United States of America is to create worker bees and boss bees. Weber confirms this thought, “today’s capitalism, which has come to dominance in economic life, creates and trains, by means of economic selection, the economic subjects — entrepreneurs and workers — that it needs” (Weber, 2002, 13). The economic selection process is the grading system in the schools, the weeding out mechanism. Furthermore, Dr. martin Luther King said, “we are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles, rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to humanity” (king, 1987, 21). Capitalism, as practiced in the USA is one born from protestant ideas about labor and its relationship with salvation and is primarily concerned with individually attaining wealth as a symbol and representation of one’s own of state of grace, “tireless labor in a calling was urged as the best means of attaining this self-assurance. This and this alone would drive away religious doubt and give assurance of one’s state of grace” (Weber, 2002, 78). So the dominant cultural values of individualism and attainment of money are the two core driving influences that that shape the school system. These are also my points of attack.
language use is a representation of one’s life view, not of life itself and is subject to revision. Just as is for one part of a system is for the entire system. Transforming the educational system requires a shift from individual concern for self to a more communal concern for self in relationship with others. As Dr. Martin Luther King said, “an individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity” (King, 1987, 17). Once this rise happens in one, then the revolution can extend to an entire system. How? By folding new information into a student’s current state of life view. Only from understanding a student’s perspective, from his or her own terms, can a teacher determine how to allow the student to include new stuff into their life view. Simply having a student reflect about course material, any course material, will lead to knowledge that can cross cultural boundaries. Though cognition across cultures is meant as in between people of different ethnic backgrounds, teachers, staff, students and parents are all sub-cultures within the culture of the educational system itself. Therefore a teacher must affect cognition across a culture regardless of any student’s background.
It may seem an oversimplification to suggest that merely writing and naming the world and then incorporating the new with what was there to begin with can improve practice. However, this method implies compassion for attention to each student. There is nothing harder. Understanding, or at least attempting to understand others should be the goal of all human action, after all, we are all little more than worm food in the final analysis.
King, C.S. (1987). The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr. Newmarket Press: NY.
Weber, M. (2002). The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Penguin Books: NY.