The hidden curriculum

I don’t know how many children grew up with a sense that there is something ominous and wrong about how schooling is conducted : how nonsensical, contradicting and counter-productive many of its cultures, beliefs and behaviours are. I spent most of my schooling years planting the seed of discovering the truth about schooling. Depending on whether or not you believe in the powers of the subconscious mind, that was what inevitably led me to become a schoolteacher to experience hands-on from the other side of the divisive authority of classroom. Were teachers and administrators really as helpless as they seem to be about creating real change in the way young mind’s are ‘moulded’?

I quit school-teaching after a few short years and the decision was helped by a simple premise I’ve established as a personal philosophy : Never soldier on to do what exactly others before you have done but have not achieved the results you wanted; for, in doing the same thing but hoping for different results, is merely insanity.

There were two goals I wanted to achieve with schoolteaching: to transform the ideas we have about learning English from within the school system and to lead a change towards a more ideal, healthy, helpful form of teacher-learner realationship.

Initially it was extremely difficult to think of myself as a fool for dedicating my life’s purpose to uncovering the things that have failed so many that came and went before me – schooling. As young, idealistic, passionate, ‘intelligent’, committed, loyal to my cause and dedicated as I could be, I constantly met glass walls. The response students gave and adminstration or the entire system gave is completely different. It is as if, to be loyal to the tradition of schooling and its dumbing down system is to be an enemy to young children’s minds and hopes. It is as if to nurture the intelligence and emotional health of young people is to be the enemy of the state.

In Sunday’s paper, under the Education section, I read with both sympathy and interest that a teacher *Nor, was subjected to verbal abuse, be called mentally unstable and attacked in her personal life. Let me assure you this is COMMON in all learning systems; the teacher that stands up for the ideals of learning is ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS attacked. This is no different from students who are punished and penalized for questioning the asylum-inducing practices of schooling and school-teaching. I did not stay on long enough to stop becoming the Head’s favourite; rest assured, you either quit, or you turn into someone with tremendous anger. For people who came from very loving, supportive, highly religious homes, they can turn their anger into a powerful force for good. But I had my own demons to deal with and knew I had not the strength to not become bitter from the fight. And so I chose a different battle. No sane person can become a proud schoolteacher at the end of their career without selling their soul to the devil; just like no young person can succeed morally, spiritually and intellectually in life if the god they worshipped is a demon of unimaginable proportions. This reminds me of a story I read somewhere, an interpretation of ‘future humans’. It goes something like this : In the future, as humans create hell on earth and as their minds descend into a man-made hell, one sign to be aware of is how they slowly worship what is not for what is.

In 2006, I met Lucille Dass at a teacher training conference and managed to slip in a few minutes’ worth of 1-to-1. Here was (to me) the grand dame of teaching English as a Second Language; here was a person who wanted to lead change in the training of Malaysian teachers – let’s just say, if someone like her had been a welcome to impact change 20-30 years ago, we wouldn’t be seeing the situation we are today with the unceasing dumbing down of our abilities, English learning inclusive.

In 2007, after I quit school-teaching to set up my experimental teaching environment (to see whether, had school allowed and supported me in the claims I was making, it would significantly alter the course of a young person’s life) I was still nagged with a feeling I was a loser; exactly what the school wanted me to feel : conform or be a loser. Well, the primitive part of my mind made a simple syllogy : School and life is about conformity. To succeed you must conform. Because you didn’t conform, you’re a loser. If only I could look into the future again; what would’ve happened if I stayed on? Would conformity be the answer? Or would spending my life taking down evidence and researching their causes, be the answer?

I kept feeling that if I stayed long enough, say, until I retired, even if I was dirt-poor, I could at least prove that it wasn’t my ‘lack of advanced degrees’ or ‘immaturity’ that rendered me impotent in trying to create change from the inside out. I was looking for two pieces of evidence to quell my self-doubt : Could I find two retired English teachers; one, a loyal, abiding servant of the government and another, a person who dedicated their life to hang in school long enough to collate more evidence and investigate the history that caused them?

I am thankful to the Universe for quickly delivering the answers I so needed in order to rid myself of the perpetual self-doubt I find myself having. In Robert T.Kiyoasaki’s RICH DAD, POOR DAD, I found the life of a dedicated, abiding servant whose biggest contribution to schooling and his son’s life ultimately came in the form of the pain and anger it caused in Robert Kiyosaki that drove him to his financial success and the success of his books. In John Taylor Gatto’s THE UNDERGROUND HISTORY OF AMERICAN EDUCATION, I found what amounted to 15 years of research after Gatto’s retirement (he quit just before formally retiring, forsaking his pension) – the smoking gun in the form of plausible historical events and evidence. In between, I found JIDDU KRISHNAMURTHI ON EDUCATION, which explained the rest of what I believed was supposed to be the purpose of an education as opposed to the unconscious enslaving of ourselves by living in the mass illussion perpetuated and extended by the ideas we attach to schooling.

Ivan Illich’s THE DESCHOOLING OF SOCIETY which illustrates very clearly, for those who care, the connection between social ills and the ideas perpetuated by schooling.

Many people fail to see that modern schooling is not an extension of education but an extension of an age-old system of divide and conquer, dumbing down to reduce rebellion, concentrating the power to orchestrate the lives of the mass population in the hands of a few, creating false illussions so that people become distracted and worship larger-than-life ideals…..

I went through thousands of pages worth of works by at least a dozen authors in the last 2 years. I am surprised at how little we know about the truth in spite of the fact that many of these works were published in the last 50 years or so. It seems so simple to just give out free copies of these and let people discover the evidence for themselves; and then I realized this : The schooling system has dumbed people down to such an extent that a majority of people cannot read beyond simple literacy. And when we do not have complex literacy, we cannot arrive at another level of thought very necessary for mankind : synthesizing information. To put it simply, most people are too dumbed down to know how to make sense of the information available to them.

There is a connection between the way we view life and morality and the degree of intellectual capacity we have. It is not a coincidence that most perpetrators of violent crime in penitentiaries have low IQs, just as it is no coincidence that foot-soldiers carrying out “orders” to commit atrocious crimes against humanity, be it under Hitler’s Third Reich, The Japanese Imperial Army, Pol Pot’s regime, the US soldiers that invaded Iraq – all have low IQs. When I was a child, I asked adults, how could Pol Pot get away with what he was doing? Why do they kill off teachers and professors first? Aren’t clever people good for the country? Won’t clever people stand up and tell the rest : this is wrong!

I used to tell myself, when a child, that I would never succumb to doing wrong unto others, even if it meant my own life being taken. If everyone stood up to authority the way I knew how to, no wars could take place. Wars can only happen because there are people who are unwilling to think for themselves and instead choose to ‘obey orders’. That set the premise to make me see the evils of bureaucracy and schooling is the mother of them all.

One evidence of being dumbed down is the thought that, “If nobody obeyed orders, there will be chaos in society.” Again, this is a by-product of a thinking that we are too stupid to govern ourselves, that we are too corrupt and evil to be moral, that we require working hard to pay taxes in order to pay for policing and incarceration. A very young child is not naive, they’ve just not seen evil. No one starts out being corrupt and evil, they become so by obeying an age-old system whose very premise is corrupt and evil. And school is merely a recent reincarnation of that system.

I now perfectly understood why all throughout my life as both student and teacher, I have been hammered down and made to feel like a loser. It is dangerous to society to have people who can read to a level of complex literacy and I am not talking about PhDs – a collection of advanced regurgitation. When people become highly literate (again, you need to understand the difference between reading and reading to interpret, synthesise and create an agent of change within oneself), they naturally become more morally upright. And when people become morally upright and have a skeleton key to all knowledge and information through the ownership of complex literacy, they realize they can self-govern. And what a danger that would be, to all those kingdoms that have come and gone; from the Pharaohs and their pyramids and rituals, to the Aryans and their Hindu caste system, to the United States of America and its capitalism, to the governments of each country including our own.

Now that’s what ISA is for – for those who did not get dumbed down enough.

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