As we get close to the end of the hear the Herd mentality is reaching a fever pitch. The yearly ritual, Lottery – like, is starting. A battery of exams, mostly useless and at times wholly fraudulent, is getting closer. The artificial fear of “what happens if you fail the final or the Regents” has begun in full force. It is more difficult this year as the specter of The State is bearing down even harder. Rather that recognize that The State has run the Education Train off of the rails, and eliminated any thought and rigor from the public school system, the teachers are playing their roles in the Kabuki theater of the End of the Year Exam Follies.
Students are gravitating to me and the other teachers looking for approval, waiting for the positive signs from a person they’d never met until September 2012. A student in my afternoon class constantly asks if he’s ‘doing good’ – as if my opinion, in the scheme of his life, matters. The top down, iron fist methodology of what passes for schooling these days is even more inflexible and soulless. Our final exams will apparently be a pool of all of our efforts, approved from above, and disseminated so that a uniform exam will be given to all 9th graders. The fact that I have a student who is new to the United States from the West Indies – in the same class with a Mexican student whose first language is Spanish, mixed in with a transfer from Queens who has never enjoyed her new school. One size fits all, says a system that preaches ‘equality’ and ‘tolerance’ and ‘multiculturalism’ and ‘diversity’. The irony has reached farcical levels.
The meaninglessness and the faux importance of it all is manifest in the results of the ‘successful mass production economy’ about which Gatto speaks. My students all are into mostly the same fads, have the same hairstyles, listen to the same kind of music, and use the same slang. The fact that they are all worried about the same end of the year ‘exams’ is only a small piece of the puzzle, but one that sells lots of Coke and Pepsi. The argument now isn’t about soda however – the meaningless question I get a lot is about Jay Z. Because I’m seen as the ‘conspiracy theory’ teacher, I get asked if Jay Z and Beyonce’ are part of the Illuminati. The Illuminati is an historical topic that has many layers and requires many allusions, but the Power Elite have done a masterful job at getting the wrong question asked and debated – a fake question. How appropriate.