Before, as a class, we have looked at the ideas and premises (i.e., intentions) behind education. And, really, it can be seen from an innumerable points of view. Predominantly from the desire to understand the architecture of the institution and the reasoning behind the choices within its discursive engagements with the community. This was really about the process and reasoning behind the current formation of education within the structures of American culture and society. This leaves out the internalized interaction between student and instructor, the development of the relationship between. Yet the interaction itself, that of transmitting knowledge, context, inspiring understanding and curiosity, igniting the fires of self discovery, can only be intimately understood in the context of the relationship between the teacher and the student; the actual participants in this particular invocation of the living voice. And in that relationship competition becomes the hot iron requiring the strike of the hammer to shape it to the anvil. Succession is the foremost desire of any master; it hones the next carrier of their message and shapes the vessel of the knowledge will spill forth from to future disciples.
Yet it would seem that the idea of competition between the students and the instructor, master and disciples, seem to be far removed from the potential realities that exist within the context of human perception and intention. This became really apparent in Amir’s relation that those that practice religion do so with the true intention of supplanting God in their lives through their reading of sacred texts and the emulation of those traits that are associated to God through the said sacred texts. Is this sacrilegious yet? Do I seem the heretic that spouts forth blasphemous conjecture? Or is it the possibility that even the most aware and devout of religious philosophers and practitioners don’t even understand and admit to their own deeply seeded desires and intentions?
Religion, much like formalized education, is transmitted and sustained through the indoctrination of subsequent generations through pedagogical constructs and institutions (i.e., schools, universities, etc.). It has to be taught for someone to cultivate the desire to give a shit about the tenets while being able to ignore the atrocities the dogmatic codex is responsible for committing. Much like a person trains a dog, so does the religious schooling train the fundamentalist, fanatic, and zealot. So, where does the idea of competition with God comes in, you ask?
Well here is the deal; to emulate God through the adherence to the dogma and the living of life through the narrowed and focused lens of its codex of social interaction, a person does so with the hopes of being able to be considered worthy of sitting next to God, in the presence of the Almighty, in the creator’s company the righteous shall be maintained for eternity. WOW, can people be anymore fucking arrogant? So ensues the race to the finish, which if a person desires to be in the presence of God, that is to say if there is even one to begin with, then one must mirror God in their actions, their thoughts, their emotions, their intentions, their detachment, their vengeance, their compassion, their love, their judgement, their power to dominate, their power to subjugate, in their paradoxical hypocrisy, in all the traits that are defined and listed as being divine in the sacred texts that they so readily attach themselves to due to their indoctrination. But in the context that the people in question have also been conditioned by the competitive aspects of their culture that have promoted self preservation and survival of the self, they too will approach the process of emulation with a similar competitive mentality that they have pursued their other goals in life with; equal is all well and fine, but better is superior. In the end even in the feinted humility that comes with popes and bishops, they too desire to be on par with God, if not better.
So where does this come into education? Well, if one looks at the bases of the educational system that exists within American (since, culturally it is really the only one I can truly speak about with some confidence since it is my culture) is a reflection of those educational systems that were transported over to the continent by our founders; religious zealots, fundamentalists, and all those criminalized by our British parents. Education in America has been a process of shaping the next blades of righteousness to be used in the projected battles of good and evil that permeate the sociocultural landscape that is observed by the leaders. They are the producers o the status quo; they shaped the landscape to fit their vision of reality and their environment, to be inclusive of all structures that are emplaced to perpetuate the structure in its most complete form and context.
As for the schools that we operate within in contemporary society, they are as just much of a product of this mentality and the internalized vetting process that removes the chafe from the berry as those that are educated and indoctrinated by the church. For in God we trust. At least that is what is written on our money (wait, does that imply that the God of America is really the financial system that this country perpetuates, with messengers of this “God” being the currency that we exchange?). But, this is a bit off topic. Maybe I will come back to this point at some time.
Educational institutions are mere reflections of the mentality, of the system that created this country (in a historical context) and those that have maintained and shaped the system through its lifespan. That is to say that the institutions are made to perpetuate itself through its decisions in assigned leadership positions and roles while reinforcing the fiercely competitive mentality and desire for superiority that is deeply imbedded in a culture that is meritocratic (i.e., your social status and position in life is determined by how hard you work and the accolades a person is able to accumulate over their life). This is apparent in the style of instructors that we, as students, are face with handing over our lens of perception to in order for them (the teachers) to mold and reshape. More often than not the instructors that reside in the classroom are reflective of the administrations that hired them as the administrations are reflective (typically) of the municipality and likewise of the state and federal entities (to an extent of course, this is not an absolute).
So as we have been educated to supersede God in our religious emulation of its tenets and dogma, so too are those same educational doctrines mirrored in institutionalized educational systems. A perfect example of this comes from the description of the Communications Studies Department at SFSU, “The department works to express, as accurately and clearly as it can, what it perceives, feels, and believes, encouraging students to do the same so that all may engage openly in genuine dialogue.”
In the process of emulation, people seek to be that which has trained them, that has inspired them, and in doing so, the hope for the ambitious is to replace them. And if what Amir says about the only purpose of the teacher, the sage, is to awaken each individuate’s ability to see the God, to see the teacher within themselves, is this desire to supersede those that have educated us so wrong? Is this quintessential human arrogance?