I know it’s hard to imagine, but there was a time when money did not dictate your self-value. This seems a foreign concept in the twenty-first Century, but prior to the neo-liberal ideas that we now take for granted, humans valued themselves in very different ways.
Bucky’s quote popped up the other day and got me thinking about self-value. Can you imagine a world where the purpose of people was to push the boundaries of their thinking instead of being forced into servitude to an economic system that reduces them to drudgery?
Rather than battle this kind of reductionist and inhuman economic thinking, education has been struggling to get on board with it (there is nothing worse than looking like you’re out of step with society – it’s never wrong). Pathways to employment is modern education’s reason for being, and it plays nicely into 1% thinking that earning money is all that matters, all that makes you worthwhile.
The rich want you to self-identify with your earning potential, then they own your means of happiness. When your self-worth is tied to your ability to earn a trivial income you are drip-fed your reason for being by people who (according to your own core belief that money is what makes you valuable) will happily starve you for their own ends.
Asking a 21st Century person to believe that their income does not dictate their self value is impossible. This kind of viral capitalism is every bit as limiting to human potential as medieval serfdom, dogmatic church states or god-kings.
People are fond of criticizing history for ideas that seem silly in retrospect. These are the very same people who argue for and justify our current woeful state of being. Our unsuccessful students aren’t high earners. Our successful students go to work for those oil companies. It’s a difficult thing to see past the myths, misinformation and indoctrination of our own culture, but I suspect you’ll never find happiness if you don’t, especially in the early twenty-first Century.
It’s the day before classes start again and I’m up at 6am after too many tedious work anxiety dreams (not of being in the classroom, but of being in school. Teaching doesn’t freak me out, the systemic nature of modern education does).
I had a good break, but now I’m back to seeing how far I can encourage free thinking before I crash into The System again. I’m a 20%er at heart. I always tend toward the more difficult road, I get more out of travelling on it but it’s tiring being a minority all the time.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been away from the classroom for a few days, found some perspective and wondered if I’m in the best place to learn. The irony isn’t lost on me.