Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Schooled by "The Man"

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usWhen I think of the word schooled, two things come to mind. The first is the current hip usage of the term common amongst younger folks that refers to being made to look foolish or otherwise defeated on the football field or basketball court. If a wide reciever like Braylon Edwards dekes a defender out, speeds on past him, then outleaps him in order to pull in a highlight reel catch in the end zone, the defender has just been schooled. Likewise, if a defender is unable to prevent someone like Ben Wallace from dunking in his face, then he too has been schooled. Being schooled in this context is clearly not a good thing. It would be wise to avoid such follies as much as possible.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us The second usage of the term schooled that pops into my mind comes from Ivan Illich and his critique of modern institutionalized education. Illich begins his radical treatise Deschooling Society with the following:
Many students, especially those who are poor, intuitively know what the schools do for them. They school them to confuse process and substance. Once these become blurred, a new logic is assumed: the more treatment there is, the better are the results; or, escalation leads to success. The pupil is thereby "schooled" to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new. His imagination is "schooled" to accept service in place of value. Medical treatment is mistaken for health care, social work for the improvement of community life, police protection for safety, military poise for national security, the rat race for productive work. Health, learning, dignity, independence, and creative endeavour are defined as little more than the performance of the institutions which claim to serve these ends, and their improvement is made to depend on allocating more resources to the management of hospitals, schools, and other agencies in question.

To extend upon that, a schooled society is essentially one where people are trained to become dependant upon institutions (corporate, governmental, and other) while conforming to a society based on mass consumerism, submission to authority, suspicion of individual initiative and autonomy and support for whatever rationalizations such institutions give for promoting their usually toxic agenda.

There is another common term within the modern street parlance that I wish to bring up at this time: "The Man". The Man is your boss or supervisor. The Man is your school's head administrator. The Man is your parole officer (if you're unfortunate enough to have one). The Man is the cop who has decided to pull you over because you've failed to place an updated sticker on your car's license plate. The Man represents corporate headquarters, your bank, the IRS, the DEA, DMV, ATF, FDA, NSA, or any other acronym that raises your anxiety level. The Man is essentially a representation of any professional or institutional authority that one is presumed to have to bow down and submit to. The Man is clearly not a good thing. It would be wise to avoid his wrath as much as possible.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAll of this leads me to a culmination where street language, social critique, and sports collide to show a glimpse of the way things are. It seems as if in much the same way as defenders wind up getting schooled in the game of hoops or football from time to time, people in this modern world wind up getting schooled in the game of life. The statist school system forces us out onto the court, rigs the game in favor of The Man, and allows The Man to school us all.

The results of all this are two-fold. The Man continues to enjoy the spoils of victory, including champaigne showers, fat bonuses, and the hubristic claim of hegemony over others. Meanwhile, the masses of individuals schooled by The Man continue to be taxed, regulated, regimented, and exploited by a system that is wrecking havoc on ourselves and our planet.

Rather than trying to change the rules of the game, some people believe that the game needs to be scrapped and replaced with a new one, one that'll allow us to have the opportunity to school The Man once and for all. People like Illich paved the way, and I suggest that those who are following in his footsteps and are further exploring such alternatives should be given more attention and support.


Blogger Vache Folle said...

It took me a long time to figure out that the game is fixed. One option is to decline to play as much as possible.

I always liked the taunt in sports where a player says "Call me the bus driver, because I'm taking you to school." Let's hope Ivan is part of a revolutionary vanguard and that we will be able to get on the bus he is driving.

9:06 AM  
Blogger jomama said...

Re: getting attention and support.

Doesn't look to good right now, does it.

Nice description of Da Man, BTW.

Maybe the next generation will intuitively know how not to play Their Game.

2:09 PM  

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