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Tereza Coraggio

Third Paradigm is an out-of-the-box thinktank on community sovereignty and regenerative economics.

We look at how to take back our cities, farmland and water; our money, production and trade; our media, education and culture, our religion and even our God.

We present a people's history of the Bible and a parent's view on how to raise giving kids in a taking world.

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Past Shows

 

3P-062 Education and its Discontents:
How Degree-Driven Schooling
has Undermined Learning

October 9th, 2010

3P-062 Show Information (includes MP3 download link)
Hour 1

Hour 2

"We're told we live in a free country, but how free are we? We're told we live in a democracy because we have elections. Does our government work for us? The economy is booming, or so we hear. Why, then, are so many people hanging on for dear life? What is meant by the economy anyway? Who defines what's referred to as "the national interest," and how? If we're exporting democracy to the world, why, then, do we have so many enemies? Two million Americans are now in prison. Why? You might have heard the statistic that it would be cheaper to send every prisoner to college rather than to keep them behind bars... but college grads won't work for twenty-cents an hour and prisoners must. We're told that if we just work hard, America is the land of opportunity. Why, then, are one-third of the people in homeless shelters employed full-time? Are we the victims of the largest pyramid scheme in history? And one more question... why don't you hear these sorts of questions more often?" Lyn Gerry

These are the questions with which Lyn Gerry and the Unwelcome Guests Collective launched their debut program 10 years ago. Over 500 episodes later, the questions are, sadly, just as pertinent. As the new Unwelcome Guests Collective, it's our intention to keep asking these impolite questions. We may not get invited to many parties, but thanks to Lyn, we know we're not alone. Over 500 individuals and stations worldwide download each episode weekly. Multiply 1000 hours of smart analysis by 500 intelligent listeners, and you get a half-milllion points of light illuminating the darkness. Like it or not, the party of Unwelcome Guests has become a force to be reckoned with.

Welcome to Unwelcome Guests. My name is Tereza Coraggio Robin Upton and I host a radio show called Third Paradigm, which focuses on community sovereignty and regenerative economics at thirdparadigm.org. I'd like to thank Robin Upton, who has invited me to do this very special guest episode. This is show #520, marking 10 years-worth of solid content - lectures, commentary, video narration, and entire books read chapter-by-chapter. After putting one mere episode together, I'm in awe of the indefatiguable effort required to post these shows, week after week, and of Lyn's unerring ear for talks that would still be essential, both at the time they aired and ten years later.

Lyn's monumental accomplishment, however, might have ended up buried in the rubble of the internet, if it were not for Robin Upton. Raj Patel Besides keeping Unwelcome Guests going, the website he's created to archive it at unwelcomeguests.net is nothing short of phenomenal. For each of the 500 episodes, he's generated a list of titles with descriptive subtitles, which makes finding what you're interested in much easier. Each title links to a page with a unique photo, a detailed summary, and links to the speakers and the source materials. There's an index that sorts the episodes by topics, and another index of speakers. I can find out that while Raj Patel once worked for the World Bank, UN, and the WTO, he's also been tear-gassed on four continents protesting them. I can see a photo of him, link to his website or Wikipedia page, and I can find all the episodes that feature him. altruists.org

Robin's own website at altruists.org focuses on the gift economy. There he's compiled about 150 audio files, a couple dozen books, and many articles. I've spent many hours listening to these talks, but wished that there was a place where I could keep notes on them, about the content and the audio quality, and a forum to discuss the ideas in them. Answering my wishes, Robin has set up Unwelcome Guests as a wiki, with a discussion page on each show. In addition, he's set up a virtual studio for collaboration.

None of us are working in the kind of dream studio he pictured, dreamstudio (9K) but as long as it's a studio avatar, it may as well be equipped. It is well-equipped, however, with content and functionality. There's a place to post show ideas and an index of material to choose from. To encourage listeners to participate, Robin has written files on how to find content, propose show ideas, improve episode plans, or even produce them. Some material in the vault includes recordings on Guantanamo from Both Sides of the Wire, the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, and an interview with Lyn by Skidmark Bob.

How does Robin get so much done? Well, one hint is that he's coined the word "somnactivist" for someone who wakes up with answers to problems they were apparently working on in their sleep. So whether you're a day or a night warrior, I encourage listeners to go to unwelcomeguests.net and join Robin's efforts. While there, you can also see the elusive lost episode #6, which had disappeared from the archive. With some Indiana Jones sleuthing, Robin has made the ark complete. Now let's get on board with today's topic.

In this Unwelcome Guests episode, we'll ask whether a higher education is the same as a deeper education. Higher education implies hierarchy, something that makes one person better than another. What Lyn Gerry put together with Unwelcome Guests, however, has been a deep dive into the information, history, and tools for analysis needed to change the world. In episode #4 Lyn states, "This series is actually a class in learning how to read between the lines." In the same episode, Michael Parenti gives the formula that "An ounce of data is worth a pound of polemic." By college standards, then, the past 1040 hours of hard data would have amounted to 78 credits or several tons of fat-free global transformation. Don't you think that you deserve a little credit for all that you've learned? class='linkimg2right' Unwelcome Guests Show 345

If you'd earned those 78 credits in a traditional college, you would have paid around $500 a credit, once room and board had been figured in, or $39,000. If you were like the average college student, that would have meant taking out some loans. We'll start our show by getting a better understanding of college financing by listening to excerpts from two Third Paradigm episodes, The College Loan Scam and Wottsamatta U. Wottsamatta U was a Rocky and Bullwinkle routine, for those of you old enough to remember the joke. During the first hour, we'll continue to focus on college financing with an excerpt from Unwelcome Guests #345: Dumbed Down, Buttoned Down, or Locked Down - Throwaway People in a Disposable Culture. In this show, Ben Manski speaks about the Public University in the Age of Corporatisation. Say that twelve times fast. We'll also hear a reading from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance written by Robert M. Pirsig. Underground History of American Education

The second hour will focus on the feeder pool for college, the public high school. We'll highlight the work of John Taylor Gatto. Long-time listeners to Unwelcome Guests are well-versed on Gatto. Over the course of 44 episodes, Lyn read his seminal work, An Underground History of American Education. We'll introduce his thinking to new listeners through an interview done by Ken MacDermottRoe, host of History Counts. In his excellent show, Ken poses insightful questions to authors who illuminate the dark corners of our shadowy past. Then we'll hear an episode of New World Notes on Gatto presented by another Connecticutt radio Ken: Kenneth Dowst. His episode ends with a short talk by Jonathon Kozol, a critic of education at the elementary-school level. He'll be talking about preschools called "the baby Ivy's," bringing us full-circle back to a system in which the self-serving goal of education is more and more expensive education.

But first, let's get a better understanding of the problems facing US college students. This is Third Paradigm episode #49, entitled The Student Loan Mafia. It includes poems by Hafiz, Epictetus, and Bokonon, a character in Kurt Vonnegut's novel, Cat's Cradle.

That was Ben Manski from Unwelcome Guests 345, speaking about the need for more student control, more federal grants, less corporate financing, and lower tuition. In Manskey's talk, however, I didn't hear his idea for where the money was going to come from. According to him, universities shouldn't be a privilege for the rich, they should be an entitlement for anyone who works hard to get there. But the problem with education isn't just the price tag. An article from the Toronto Globe and Mail quotes Jason Price, an assistant professor at the University of Victoria, as saying, "Unschooling is an acknowledgment that schools and education are in many ways contradictory, that there's an implicit tension between them. Education is about the production of more democracy, production of peace, production of happiness whereas schooling is often the production of global economic competitiveness." As an assistant professor, I'd say that he's living both his contradictions and his convictions.

But is learning the product of teaching? Should the teacher be responsible for what the student learns? Zen in the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Can they be? The student who gets accepted to college has created their own ability to learn, or they wouldn't be there. Yet they pay dearly to have someone else tell them what they must learn. At 18 years old, a person is legally an adult, yet we consider them successful only if they place themselves under someone else's authority for another four to eight years - whether that person is a sargeant or a professor. If they're successful, this will then lead to being under someone else's authority for the rest of their life.

For a radically different view, let's listen to an excerpt from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig. The narrator tells the story of Phaedrus, who is his younger self, before the mental breakdown and electroshock therapy. He always speaks of Phaedrus in the third person.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
read by Michael Kramer


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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Welcome back to the 10th anniversary episode of Unwelcome Guests. I'm your host, Tereza Coraggio. In this 520th episode we're investigating Education and its Discontents. In the first hour we focused on the university, with a particular look at financing. There's an organization called Rights Action, whose integrity I admire. They've long documented crimes against the environment and humanity committed by Goldcorp, a Canadian company that does open-pit, cyanide-leaching mining in Guatemala and Honduras. Yesterday I received a sign-on letter telling Simon Fraser University that they should return the $10 million dollar "gift" for their Goldcorp Centre for the Arts. Tefler School of Mgmt

Three documentary exposes have been made about Goldcorp: "All That Glitters Is Not Gold," "The Business of Gold in Guatemala," and "Lost Paradise." Rights Action has compiled seven years of documentation into a comprehensive report called "Investing in Conflict: Public Money, Private Gain," available on their website. Yet no money is too dirty, it seems, for a squeaky-clean university to refuse. The University of British Colombia accepted 5 million from Goldcorp for their Earth and Ocean Sciences Department - lots of bushy-tailed environmentalists coming out of there, I suppose. And the former Chairman, Ian Tefler, donated 25 million to the University of Ottawa, who then opened the Tefler School of Management. Rights Action calls this steal from the poor and give to the rich strategy "goldwashing."

But John Taylor Gatto would say that this isn't education selling out, but that compulsory education has been paid for by monied interests from the get-go, for the production of compliant, predictable, and obedient workers, citizens, and soldiers. These products of schooling will compete, not against their invisible masters, but against each other - those who should be their natural allies - in order to get a petty reward. Let's listen to Ken MacDermottRoe's interview of John Taylor Gatto in his excellent series, History Counts:

History Counts: John Taylor Gatto on Dumbing Us Down

http://www.mdrtalk.org/#education

You're listening to Unwelcome Guests, and Ken MacDermottRoe interviewing John Taylor Gatto on History Counts. But there's one area in which I'd disagree with Gatto - when he says that the government can print all the money it wants. From two other of Ken's episodes, called The Creature from Jeckel Island and Web of Debt, I know that every dollar the government prints is borrowed from the bankers - Carnegie, Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan - the same names that controlled the education system. Now, if I were a conspiracy theorist, I'd probably see some connection between those two facts, but as it is, I'm sure it's just coincidence. Two Income Trap

I also, however, question Gatto's solution of dismantling the system from the bottom up. Homeschooling is only available to families with one parent at home, English-speaking and usually college-educated. I'm reading The Two-Income Trap, in which Elizabeth Warren and her daughter Amelia explain how the bidding war for houses has forced families to maintain two incomes. If the few moms still at home homeschool, their kids miss out on some of the most subversive people in the world - teachers, who do a magnificent job despite the institution. And the unschooling movement is still driven by the Carnegie credentialing system, because the goal is still to get into college. If we're going to dismantle it, I think it needs to be from the top down. Culture of Make Believe

My oldest daughter has just graduated from high school, and we're conducting an experiment. Every morning we spend three hours watching Democracy Now and other videos, listening to alternative media, and discussing the ideas. At the same time, we prep and cook for Food in the Hood, our weekly neighborhood fundraiser for global charities. Each hour that we spend together, she earns a small amount of money for now, and a larger amount is credited to her saving account - which she can use for one of two things: college or a downpayment on a house. By the time she earns what we've saved, she'll have 1800 hours of education, free of corporate influences and debt.

If you'd like to see our curriculum or even join our classes, they're posted daily at UniverseCity.us. Our class on current events is called Connecting the DOTS: Deepening Our Thinking on Sovereignty. Web of Debt There's also a book study group on Derrick Jensen's Culture of Make-Believe. In our class on education, we'll be listening to Gatto's book that Lyn recorded on Unwelcome Guests, while the economics class will read Ellen Brown's Web of Debt and listen to Wizards of Money, a series by the anonymous Smithy, an early member of the collective. We'll also look at spirituality through a book I'm writing called A House for the Soul in the Land Beyond Faith. At UniverseCity.us, you can view the outlines, read the intros, and drop in on the class. Now let's get back to John Taylor Gatto.

In this episode of New World Notes, Jonathan Kozol and Gatto present each of their views of what's wrong with schooling, in which they agree 94%. The 6% in which they disagree is how to solve the problem. Kozol says fix it and Gatto says nuke it. Let's hear from Kenneth Dowst.

New World Notes by Kenneth Dowst

http://www.radio4all.net/index.php/program/35224

Gatto is the first teacher I've known to talk about production, and its importance to our lives. When he sent his resignation letter to the New York Times, he didn't know what he'd do, but thought he might become a garlic farmer on a property he had in upstate New York. If he had, he might have thought the dangers of overproduction to be less.

He's also the only teacher I've known to say out loud the words, "whiny, greedy, bored children who define themselves by what they consume." I read the other day that US children are below students in other countries in all measures except self-confidence. In the first chapter of An Underground History, Gatto writes, "I've yet to meet a parent in public school who ever stopped to calculate the heavy, sometimes lifelong price their children pay for the privilege of being rude and ill-mannered at school. I haven't met a public school parent yet who was properly suspicious of the state's endless forgiveness of bad behavior for which the future will be merciless."

Notable Quote: johntaylorgotto (7K)

Keep in mind, this scheme was never intended...to be destructive, just the reverse. By converting Americans into specialized economic and social functions, into incompletely human human beings, this nation eventually achieved the most reliable domestic market in the world. The human mutilations of schooling are a trade0off for this prosperity. Comfort and security are achieved at the price of personal sovereignty and wholeness. That's what makes extended childhood a paradox - give it up and people will enter a zone of great turbulence, since most people don't have a clue what to do to make a living or how to entertain themselves. And the resolution of that turbulence nobody can predict.

Well-schooled people have a low threshold of boredom; they need constant novelty to feel alive. With only the flimsiest inner life, they must stay in touch with official voices...The cannot sit still without their minds wandering off to some commercial world or to the stock market...Well-schooled people must be poorly-trained in history, philosophy, economics, literature, poetry, music, art, theology, and anything known to develop a personal inner life... [It converts] spirits designed for independence into whiny, greedy, bored children who define themselves by what they consume... When you next find yourself appalled by infantile and irresponsible behavior that you see all around you, think of school as its forge and try to get rid of it.

— John Taylor Gatto
As I see students graduate and go out in the world to get jobs, I think that it's a cruel thing we've done to them. Without a bell to tell them where to go, many seem lost. They want jobs, but only on their terms. After 13 years spent with their peers, few know how to relate to adults as if they're real and interesting people. The basics of manners - looking someone in the eye when they're talking, saying please and thank you, being courteous - are foreign to them. Of the ones who are nice to their parents, I can count them on one hand. But let's go now to Kenneth Dowst and Jonathon Kozol, who has a different perspective. ark2 (6K)

In Jonathon Kozol's talk he mentions Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund. She recently spoke at the "One Nation Working Together Rally for Jobs and Justice." My daughter Veronica admired her rhetorical device. She used the metaphor of Noah's ark and drew seven lessons from it. We especially liked lesson six - that the ark was built by amateurs and the Titanic by professionals. But the role she wants amateurs to play is that we demand that government give more funding to the schools. I'm hoping for a return of the passionate amateur to replace the credentialed expert - as teachers, as students, as collaborators, and as the government. Ken MacdermottRoe (8K)

This has been Tereza Coraggio and you've been listening to the 10th anniversary episode of Unwelcome Guests.Thank you to Kenneth Dowst and to Ken MacDermottRoe for their recordings of John Taylor Gatto. All the fine episodes of New World Notes can be found at newworldnotes.blogspot.com. History Counts is at MDRtalk.org, where you can hear intelligent interviews of many provocative authors. A huge thank you to Robin Upton for recommending the Ben Manski talk from Unwelcome Guests 345, and for the excerpt from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance read by Michael Kramer. Jonathon Kozol To see Robin's homage to Lyn Gerry's work, see the new multi-functional website at unwelcomeguests.net. Even better, use your wiki powers and add to it. Amateurs rule! View my radio show at thirdparadigm.org, which also links to universecity.us and foodinthehood.org - three websites, seven blogs, and one wiki. These are all thanks to Mike Scirocco, who really gives amateurs a good name. A big happy 10th anniversary to Lyn Gerry, without whom none of this would have happened, and to you, without whom nothing would have happened either.

Thank you for listening.

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