Author

Education For a New Culture

Capitalism Destroys Education

Freire On Education


Chapter Sixteen: Cooperative Commonwealth Education


            "I've been tasked with reviewing the broader societal aspects of our educational and cultural operations, beyond the specific elements we've already agreed on." Jane Lansing looked at the other participants in the Outlook Oversight Committee's dialectical interchange. "There are certain needs, such as hunger, thirst, sex, which are common to humans. And there are drives that distinguish an individual's character, such as love and hatred, the lust for power and the desire for submission, the enjoyment of sensual pleasure and the fear of eroticism--all derived from the structures and processes of the society the individual lives in. Recognizing that human desires, fears, and values change and develop as a result of social norms and patterns, we're experimentally creating a new culture which will in turn create a new type of person.

      "The peculiarity of specific political and economic patterns and norms sets the mode of life for all individuals. This mode becomes one of the primary factors determining their entire character structure. Our CCC culture possesses a common consciousness and a distinctive set of cooperative, non-capitalist values. Our ethos is embodied in our by-laws, agreed procedures, and cultural norms. The normative archetypes of our ethos become the content of education, art, and member behavior.

      "As we earlier reminded ourselves, one of the most crucial tests for our CCC enterprise as a whole is making certain that our values, techniques, under-standing, and attitudes are genuinely re-embodied in each new generation in an evolutionary manner--that is, re-embodied in enhanced ways."

      The committee reflected for a moment on Jane's statements.

     "Many people wonder why Plato insisted in the Commonwealth that educational and artistic material used with young people should be carefully selected and managed," 1  Rick Webb said. "This wonderment arises from the naive assumption that public educational systems--such as those in capitalist America--are free from control by ideological dogma.

      "In fact, the opposite is true: public educational institutions in capitalist America are entirely dominated by a system of misinformation and anti-intellectualism which has been imposed by the cabal which took control of education in the first decades of the twentieth century. The result has been just what they planned for: large masses of American citizens who are certifiably illiterate and lack any ability to think for themselves, thus allowing a criminal gang to take political and economic control of our nation.

      "It will require great intelligence on our part to determine precisely what will and will not be included in the education of our members, young people and adults alike."

      "The new educational and cultural system we're creating in our Outlook experimental site," Sophia Yates said, "will be a synthesis of the polarities of individual creativity and societal norms, transmission of knowledge versus education as the fostering of inquiry and reasoning, education as conservative of values and education as progressive, education for personal development and education for citizenship, and enlightening education versus enculturation."

      Lavinia Androcles joined in. "Most of the dialectical tensions you mention, Sophia, are obviated by CCC students being full participants in decision-making in all aspects of our educational enterprise. We students don't feel that 'grownups' are foisting community dogmas and norms on us and calling it education; we're equal partners in deciding what elements we study and how we study them. Our emphasis on 'learning through participation' keeps us engaged in what we're studying. And we share the results of our individual studies with all CCC members through our Website and our CCC Newsletter. We know that the results of our studies 2 of our community enterprises and our investigations into the ruinous acts of the wider capitalist society help keep CCC members informed, so they can make the best decisions possible.

      "By the way," Lavinia continued, "it's easy for CCC members to overlook how revolutionary our practice is of including students in decision-making concerning educational policies and procedures. Such an idea had been discussed at various times in the twentieth century--in places like Summerhill in Britain. But our actual implementation of this concept is the first time it's been genuinely and comprehensively applied in human history."

      "The joint decision by all CCC members to recognize a student's study as his or her work contribution to the CCC enterprise," Judy Lee said, "gives us equal status to all other forms of work performed by other members--and is similarly revolutionary, as is the practice Lavinia refers to. We all remember how heated our discussions about this were as we finally arrived at complete consensus: some members began with the idea that 'studying' or 'learning' was not really a 'job.' But everyone ultimately agreed that the work of gaining understanding through our unique educational practices is equal to all other forms of labor in the communities. Hooray for us!

      "As we continue creating enlightened educational and cultural procedures, the process is becoming cumulative. By maintaining a sound system of education we're able to produce member-citizens of good character who will produce in turn member-citizens better than themselves and better able to produce still better member-citizens in their turn. Our educational practices are creatively enhancing this evolution."

      Lasthenia, a college student, continued the interchange. "We've previously discussed what policy we should recommend for all CCC sites regarding cultural elements: movies, literature, painting, television, and so on. We five interns recommend this statement from Plato as the approved policy:

"Since our students, the future leaders of the common-wealth, imitate from their earliest childhood, we should choose appropriate models for them to emulate, namely people who are courageous, self-controlled, virtuous, and free. We shouldn't encourage them to embody or imitate what is illiberal or shameful behavior because imitation gives rise to desire for that kind of reality. Imitation, continued from an early age, turns into habits and dispositions--of body, speech and mind." 3

      "We might as well name our educational enterprise the New Academy," Rick Webb said, laughing, "since we seem to follow Plato's Commonwealth design in so many of our policies and structures. All of which, to me, is a fine thing. I agree with the statement you and the other interns are recommending, Lasthenia."

      The recommendation was approved by the oversight committee.

      "We're re-creating Outlook as a community progressively free from the wider capitalist culture, looking to the future when all of Outlook's residents will be CCC members and all its functions a part of our CCC enterprise," Darby White said. "We must be constantly vigilant of the ways in which capitalist society impinges on us, to avoid negative impacts on us of its continual destructive behavior.

      "I suggest that a part of the educational experience of CCC students involve a temporary job with a capitalist company or business. Each students' experience would then be presented to the entire community in a 'think-tank' kind of report, indicating how we can best relate to that specific aspect of capitalist culture to avoid problems and influence it in a positive manner.

      "Working in a part-time job within the current American society will allow students to gain understanding of the immense difference between a capitalist culture of greed and corruption and our CCC culture of cooperation, collaboration, and good will."

      Stephen Farely, a high school student, joined the interchange. "That's a very productive idea, but only if students can make their own choice of the kind of temporary jobs they take, and in what corporation or business. I currently have a part-time job with a stock broker in Grimton. Some CCC members objected to my taking that job, arguing that a stock broker is essentially a parasite within the capitalist system and provides no productive information for the CCC enterprise. I had to remind those people that Darby White, Patrick Mercer, and I have been assigned to create an investment expert system, which relies on the kind of information a stock broker deals in."

      "Incidentally, Darby, Patrick, and I are now completing a new artificial intelligence (AI) system based on high-frequency trading (HFT). This algorithmic-computer trading system finds statistical patterns and pricing anomalies by scanning the various stock exchanges with an expert system and then does front-loading trades. We're charged by the CCC Regional Council not to divulge how much money we've made for the CCC enterprise with this new expert system; all I can say is that it's exceptionally successful. And, yes, we do report our earnings to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

      "My part-time job with a capitalist stock broker has been of significant benefit to our efforts. And, I can tell you, I've learned the overwhelming difference between working with someone in the capitalist culture--where I'm treated like a 'thing' to get the most work out of possible, and my working with Darby and Patrick, where I'm considered a genuine partner in our joint efforts. I'm sure that other students will find temporary employment with other capitalist enterprises that will provide similarly useful information and practical experience."

      "Speaking of income from CCC enterprises," Emily Blake said, "our educational enterprise is now realizing significant revenue from the students from the outside community who enroll in our trade school, elementary school, middle school, high school, or college. Much of this education occurs through distance learning via our CCC Internet Website. While we provide these students a unique education that, among other exceptional features includes learning how to think for themselves, they afford us the opportunity to study the external capitalist culture to see how the ethos of egocentricity affects their mental and behavioral characteristics.

      "It's interesting that when students from the outside community participate with CCC students in dialectical interchange the external students frequently remark on how similar all CCC members sound. We remind them that all members of the cooperative communities experience an identical initial and ongoing screening and training process to make sure they're continually increasing their ability to be rational, self-aware, cooperative, highly intelligent and articulate, and free from characterological defects such as prejudice, egomania, and hostility. Because of this, we explain, it would be strange if all CCC members didn't sound somewhat similar--though not identical.

      "External students feel that there should be disagreement for disagreement's sake and that without dissension a person or a society cannot be free. We explain that freedom to us doesn't involve discord and animosity. Our members have attained the capability of working through genuine (not quirky) disagreement through dialectical interchange to achieve authentic consensus.

      "We're finding that as the capitalist society increasingly falls apart, there are a few people throughout the globe who can understand the value of an education that teaches young people how to understand themselves and their world. With these students and their parents we're establishing a kind of 'world culture' based on agreed values such as integrity, competence, responsibility, discernment, honesty, rationality, and objective self-worth."

      "As in Plato's Academy, we use physical exercise as a means of training both the body and mind," Axiothea Phlius said. "We play such sports as basketball, badminton, and volleyball, but most of our physical education involves two unique exercises created especially for CCC members, one involving badminton and one involving basketball paraphernalia. These exercises provide training in mental, psychological, and psychic capabilities."






1 "It is not only to the artists therefore that we must issue orders requiring them to represent good character in their literature or not to write at all; we must issue similar orders to all artists and prevent them from portraying bad character, ill discipline, meanness, or ugliness in painting, sculpture, architecture, or any work of art, and if they are unable to comply they must be forbidden to practice their art. We shall thus prevent our guardians being brought up among representations of what is evil, and so day by day and little by little, by feeding as it were in an unhealthy pasture, insensibly doing themselves grave psychological damage. Our artists and craftsmen must be capable of perceiving the real nature of what is beautiful, and then our young men, living as it were in a good climate, will benefit because all the works of art they see and hear influence them for good, like the breezes from some healthy country with what is rational and right." Plato, Commonwealthh VIII

2 Here are two examples of studies made by students:     1      2

3 Plato, Commonwealth III (395 c-d)