[iDC] The Aims of Education

Lichty, Patrick plichty at colum.edu
Thu Sep 8 17:13:18 UTC 2011

One of my key arguments with contemporary practices in education is its commodification by the capitalist superstructure, but by definition, capitalism must colonize everything it touches as to maximize its potential return on investment and resource extraction.  However, we must also remember that its only function is the extraction of wealth for the concentration of capital and the eventual abandonment of the spent resources that it squanders.

I agree with ken in that education has been commodified as learning, and with Simon in that education is the fostering of uniqueness, and this is my key difference with teh whole superstructure of assessment, accountability, rubrics, and standardization that higher education in the US is addicted to.  With the coming of No Child Left behind, standardization has created a child as labor product that then has to be broken from field-dependence at the university level.  The dialectic that occurs is that the hegemonic/labour complex is schizophrenic in that it cries for critical thinking, but it also enforces agendas of standardization and accountability which by definition is anaethema to uniqueness.  It wants standardized labor units that will think critically, but just not in ways that will threaten the dominant paradigm of colonial capitalism, which is very reminiscent of Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron".  Although I am required to follow this infrastructure in order to give what seem to be salient metrics to the control infrastructure of the institution, I feel that education will not cease to be "learning" unless alternate humanely-oriented practices are envisioned that foreground the non-standard, and destroys the idea of the individual as standardized-laboring-machine.  Conversely, I am also not in favor of Postman's admonition of abandoning the digital world in favor of a Socratic education, although I believe that the ubiquity of the networked culture shifts is from a Foucaultian culture of discipline to a Deleuzian culture of absolute control.

The problem as I see it is how to reclaim the institution of learning as place of education, and I feel that this is the site of humane resistance in the contemporary educational institution - the decoupling of capitalist culture from the process of education.  I believe that there are many of us who are filling out the endless paperwork who are secretly operating on organic, qualitative practices, and hopefull these practices constitute the resistant underground while the totalitarian juggernaut of capitalist culture continues to ravage our intellectual future.

Patrick Lichty
Asst. Professor
Dept of Interactive Arts & Media
Columbia College Chicago
916/1000 S. Wabash Ave #104
Chicago, IL USA
"Sometimes you do things not for the logic of them, but only for the fact that it is the right thing to do, and that is all."

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