Yesterday, late, I posted the following as, “If Not Equality, then Broad’s Advantage,” and I wanted to start with it here because I just read it’s philosophical underpinnings in Lawrence (again, Women in Love). So, here’s the post followed by Lawrence as a kind of “incision” into the Broadian mind. Skip down to the asterisks for the Lawrence.
Eli Broad, Billionaire Misanthropist, er, philanthropist (construction tycoon) of the Broad Foundation , made a clear statement of what schools are for in 2008:
Those of us who come from the world of business understand what is at risk if we do not dramatically improve our public schools. Our economy, our standard of living and our democracy could be jeopardized in a global economy in which education has become not the great equalizer but the competitive advantage. Our students need every advantage we can provide them. And public charter schools have the competitive edge.
In the “global economy” education is a competitive advantage…for what, for whom? He doesn’t say. But owning labor training systems is a good idea for billionaires like him.
But Broad goes on to offer 5 specious things that schools he funds are required to do (and he’s here to tell you they don’t muck around with the color of wall paint, damn liberals!). My favorite are the last two. Here’s #4:
Fourth, to meet their students’ academic needs, successful charters use research-based practices that have been proved to be successful in educating kids. These include creating smaller schools, offering double blocks of math or reading, extending the school day or enforcing a strict dress code.
Doesn’t this sound like a great place to learn how to be an awful grunge and dull servile animal–Broad’s beasts of burden!
Here’s a glimpse at how he trains these creatures:
KIPP schools is another charter school operator that has had similar success. In January, our foundation gave it $12 million to open four schools in Los Angeles. Its students attend school from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; they attend school every other Saturday; they attend school during the summer; and they make a commitment to learn. More than 80% of KIPP alumni nationwide are attending college.
Here is the “advantage” that Broad is getting at–a shift labor force trained to time discipline from pre-K forward. After all, our inner city workers must prefer the kind of slavery Apple offers in China to the likely prison cell waiting for them, right? Surely once Broad gets through with the “next generation” of learners corporations will be more than happy to locate factories here and pay a buck fifty a day.
Broad’s last key to succes:
The bottom line: Students perform or the schools are closed.
Don’t think of schools as en loco parentis–your home away from home where the environment nurtures your human development–that’s wall paint color thinking. Don’t think of the school as a place where a community is formed–a common ground held in memory and possibly shared with one’s own children–because one day you will wake up and the school has become an apartment complex.
Even the successful grunge, the high achiever in Broad’s terms, will be left out in the cold seeking out a new dungeon to which they can hitch their wagon.
It’s a hard knock life.
Now, what follows is from Chapter 17 of Women in Love which is titled “The Industrial Magnate.” We are in the mind of Gerald Crich, a second generation industrialist in coal.
He did not care whether they made way with alacrity, or grudgingly. He did not care what they thought of him. His vision had suddenly crystallised. Suddenly he had conceived the pure instrumentality of mankind. There had been so much humanitarianism, so much talk of sufferings and feelings. It was ridiculous. The sufferings and feelings of individuals did not matter in the least. They were mere conditions, like the weather. What mattered was the pure instrumentality of the individual. As a man as of a knife: does it cut well? Nothing else mattered.
Everything in the world has its function, and is good or not good in so far as it fulfils this function more or less perfectly. Was a miner a good miner? Then he was complete. Was a manager a good manager? That was enough. Gerald himself, who was responsible for all this industry, was he a good director? If he were, he had fulfilled his life. The rest was by-play.
The mines were there, they were old. They were giving out, it did not pay to work the seams. There was talk of closing down two of them. It was at this point that Gerald arrived on the scene.
He looked around. There lay the mines. They were old, obsolete. They were like old lions, no more good. He looked again. Pah! the mines were nothing but the clumsy efforts of impure minds. There they lay, abortions of a half-trained mind. Let the idea of them be swept away. He cleared his brain of them, and thought only of the coal in the under earth. How much was there?
There was plenty of coal. The old workings could not get at it, that was all. Then break the neck of the old workings. The coal lay there in its seams, even though the seams were thin. There it lay, inert matter, as it had always lain, since the beginning of time, subject to the will of man. The will of man was the determining factor. Man was the archgod of earth. His mind was obedient to serve his will. Man’s will was the absolute, the only absolute
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And it was his will to subjugate Matter to his own ends. The subjugation itself was the point, the fight was the be-all, the fruits of victory were mere results. It was not for the sake of money that Gerald took over the mines. He did not care about money, fundamentally. He was neither ostentatious nor luxurious, neither did he care about social position, not finally. What he wanted was the pure fulfilment of his own will in the struggle with the natural conditions. His will was now, to take the coal out of the earth, profitably. The profit was merely the condition of victory, but the victory itself lay in the feat achieved. He vibrated with zest before the challenge. Every day he was in the mines, examining, testing, he consulted experts, he gradually gathered the whole situation into his mind, as a general grasps the plan of his campaign.
Lawrence goes on to narrate the history of master and servant in this particular industry–the narration is “thinking” in Gerald’s register and also in his father’s, and so details the philosophy of the owner and the manager and the machine and labor as it dances into the technological future. It is an outrageous will to subdue and subordinate man as a tool and men, as a whole, as a perfect machine of technological power. Labor and Earth, one subordinate, one subdued by the altered mind of the “next generation” which thinks further within the parameters of “coordination” and machine operation and calls it harmony.
Again, a brilliant piece of work.
Strangely, I think we have not moved beyond a mind like Gerald’s:
Without bothering to think to a conclusion, Gerald jumped to a conclusion. He abandoned the whole democratic-equality problem as a problem of silliness. What mattered was the great social productive machine. Let that work perfectly, let it produce a sufficiency of everything, let every man be given a rational portion, greater or less according to his functional degree or magnitude, and then, provision made, let the devil supervene, let every man look after his own amusements and appetites, so long as he interfered with nobody.
And this mind is replicated, advanced, privileged by “circulation.” Edmund Burke in “Thoughts on French Affairs“: “The fact is, that as money increases and circulates, and as the circulation of news, in politics and letters, becomes more and more diffused, the persons who diffuse this money, and this intelligence, become more and more important.”
This is why money should not be speech; and it is why the “leaping,” narrow, idealizing mind empowered by wealth and position needs be distrusted and checked.
It is why democracy does not exist.
photo credit: Catherine Wagley
“Its students attend school from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; they attend school every other Saturday; they attend school during the summer; and they make a commitment to learn. More than 80% of KIPP alumni nationwide are attending college.”
I’m horrified by this. This means nothing in terms of college preparedness. Also, don’t 80% of public school students attend college these days? If the KIPP system is so great, why don’t 100% attend college? A commitment to learning has nothing to do with the number of hours spent in school, and as you point out is just a factory system that discourages real learning in the form of self-guided, independent thought, research, curiosity.
This makes my blood boil. I hate this man.
But his attitude also perpetuates the idea that college is for everybody. It should be something everyone is able to access but not required for all. Just as everyone who wants to own a house or home should have the access to be able own a home but it shouldn’t be the ideal–you aren’t a failure because you don’t own a home. You aren’t a failure because you chose not to attend college. It puts success as a person in the terminology of material goods again. The house, the car, the college education. These programs focus on the carrot of “attending college” but they don’t focus on learning for learning’s sake, which is the point after all. How do they gauge success? By graduates attending college? That may be their marker but have those students learned to think for themselves? Critically think? Not likely. They have learned to take tests well.
I am sure you have read this. I came into contact with it recently. It is dated now (being from 2009 I think) but still has relevance.