The Classroom Dilemma
Saad Adnan Khan
In the era of rampant corporatisation, when one needs corporate knowledge and corporate sentiments to live a “wealthy” corporate life, one rarely finds it important to have faith in imagination, free will and humanity. In these ruthless times, the powerful and privileged keep finding ways to have ’maximum profit’ and instill such an ideology in others as well.
Now, let's go to the class setting of our schools. What's the one saying that kids learn (or shall we say 'are taught') from the very beginning? “Lekha pora kore je, gari ghora chore she” (The one who gets educated, gets to ride cars). So, basically, we want to get educated to ride cars. It shouldn't be that difficult to read between (and also behind) that line. A very corporate, capitalist, consumerist dream is being inculcated in the minds of young learners from a very early age.
Seth Godin, in his essay 'Indoctrination: How we got here,' writes that schools basically produce the future workers to serve factories and corporates. He writes, 'It's almost impossible to imagine a school with a sign that said: “We teach people to take initiative and become remarkable artists, to question the status quo, and to interact with transparency. And our graduates understand that consumption is not the answer to social problems. Capitalists need compliant workers, workers who will be productive and willing to work for less than the value that their productivity creates. The gap between what they are paid and what the capitalist receives is profit.
Classrooms become test-based battlefields, whereas
they should encourage the heretical thoughts.
Photo: Kazi Tahsin Agaz Apurbo
Parents dream of their kids getting jobs at multinational corporations to become rich. There is an abundance of Business majors in Bangladesh, who would do anything to turn their 'corporate dream' into a reality. The corporate greed has killed hundreds of lives only last week at the deadliest fire that has no parallel in the history of Bangladesh. So what if cheap lives get terminated? Who cares about the cheap labour, why should anyone care about whether they live or die, whether they are provided with safe working conditions, when there are important matters to worry about-- profit. Who cares about human rights and dignity, when we have to globalise, corporatise and 'standardise' ourselves, to fit it in the global market?
“Classrooms become fear-based, test-based battlefields, when they could so easily be organised to encourage the heretical thought we so badly need," writes Godin. Students will have a safe and 'stable' future if they major in BBA, they need to earn a living, get married, have children and live happily ever after. Basically, stick to the status-quo, stick to the plan that society has created for one-- don't question, don't wonder. Students and parents are afraid to go for majors like fine arts, sociology, criminal science, gender studies, journalism, because then the future gets unpredictable. We have less writers, artists, dreamers and thinkers.
Godin writes about the things that schools teach kids: Fit in, follow instructions, use #2 pencil, take good notes, have good hand writing, punctuate, don't ask questions, buy the things the other kids are buying, don't fail, participate in a large number of extracurricular activities, be a generalist, try not to have other kids talk about you, once you learn a topic, move on. Godin then finally points out two things that schools should teach: solve interesting problems and lead!
(The writer is Reporter, Star Campus, currently doing Master's in Gender Studies: Intersectionality and Change at Linköping University, Sweden.)