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[xmca] Circuses Instead of Bread
I have two points to add to Andy's STYLISTIC criticism of the 11 minute movie "critiquing" formal schooling (a stylistic criticism which I completely agree with--the form of the movie completely undermines what little actual content it has).
a) The breaking of the supposed "job for life in return for four years of academic drudgery" contract is part of a much longer tidal shift AWAY from work-related rewards (including work-intrinsic rewards) and TOWARDS simple, brutal, economic punishment.
Every successful form of slavery discovers, soon enough, that it is much more "efficient", in cost-benefit terms, to PUNISH people for not doing something than to REWARD people for doing something. Of course, it is not necessarily more productive, but the motive spring of slavery is exploitation, not production. Wage slavery is no different from chattel slavery in this respect: in the long run, sticks are resuable and will always be cheaper and more widely applicable than carrots.
So here in Korea, for example, we have an endless parade of paper qualifications in English teaching (TESL certificates, TEE certificates, MA degrees and what have you) which do not promise any benefits at all, but which (supposedly) protect their bearer from the negative consequences of the market which are otherwise inevitable.
Under THESE conditions, the problem for the young child in school is that no matter how cynical and nihilistic he or she trains himself to be, he is not cynical or nihilistic enough to avoid the heartbreak of frustrated imagination and the shipwreck of thwarted dreams. Nothing but knowledge will do; any system of belief offered in such a system is and should be rejected. (As Brecht says, the whole of human history, and even our own childhoods, serves to teach us that it is disbelief that moves mountains.)
b) The one exception for this SHOULD be what Ruskin called "labour's one true solace--creativity". But it's precisely HERE, in the so-called 'art' that children are offered, that the deception, the sleight of hand, the empty circus is at its very worst. That's what makes Andy's comment on the FORM of this film so pointed and so completely right.
I found the paper that Nikolai Veresov posted for discussion flawed in many ways, great and small (for example, it appears to have been very poorly proofread). But one thing I really do endorse is his insistance that the idea of a "psychological plane" and an "interpersonal plane" be thought of DRAMATURGICALLY instead of in a fake logical or pseudo-psychological manner.
I think I disagree that this is the ONE way to interpret "psychological plane", or even that it is a NEW way of interpreting it. Vygotsky is, as Eugene Subbotsky once remarked, a poet; he does not have time for single entendre. But one thing he definitely IS talking about is the stage: Vygotsky is talking about the backstage area where actors interact with each other,and the front of the stage where Hamlet delivers his soliloquy.
Take ANY movie made for teen agers (Harry Potter, for example), ANY video game (Black Ops, WoW), and ANY form of popular music (Lady Gaga, hip hop, etc.) and you notice that the planes are resolutely reversed: instead of allowing the bread of the developing psychological plane to rise, we have endless circuses on the teenager's backburners. It is Hamlet without the soliloquy, Hamlet as an action/horror show.
There are always sparse, and spasmodic exceptions. Works which try to foreground the psychological plane for a very few moments, even if only just to move a few more units (e.g. the "Twilight Series"). But these work only until the teenage audience discovers (oh, round about age thirteen) that unlike real teenagers the authors really have nothing to think with and consequently nothing to say.
The dreadful fire
Cheerfully reaches for the many-housed city
And devours it in comfort:
A practised consumer.
Seoul National University of Education
--- On Mon, 12/13/10, Andy Blunden <email@example.com> wrote:
From: Andy Blunden <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: [xmca] 11 minute movie critiuing formal schooling
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
Date: Monday, December 13, 2010, 3:32 PM
An irony of this movie is that the format is geared to that Ritalin-medicated audience whose attention span is limited to an 11 minute cartoon. But ... I watched it. There are more of them at the RSA website. Discussing movie clips is quite a good format for a class discussion, I think.
Helen Grimmett (Education) wrote:
> Thanks Andy. That's the perfect thing to stimulate discussion at my next pd session with my research group of teachers, and much more interesting than just listening to me say all the same things! It will be interesting to hear their reactions. I suspect they presently feel too much like a cog in the factory wheel to do anything different, but I'm planning pd sessions for the start of next year to working on changing that (particularly by using the arts) to help them feel alive and creative and capable of doing something different. If our teachers feel anaesthetised it's no wonder our kids do!
> On 14 December 2010 00:44, Andy Blunden <firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>> wrote:
> Changing Education Paradigms - an animated talk. Fun and worth the
> 11 minutes it takes to watch.
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