In response to my prior post about Privilege and Social Capital, Jose posted the following:

“I will tell you that the answers are not simple and will not arrive
quickly. Change starts with the children. However, it also has to do
with changing elements in society that have existed since the
beginning.”

This is a commonly heard perspective, and an argument for the schools taking an active role in changing society by the way they teach. 

I question whether the schools can or should be the agents of change, but I also recognize that schools may be the only place where a different idea of what the world can do is ever presented to some children. 

If the schools don’t do it, who will?  How can parents who are themselves trapped in the cycle ever realistically teach their children anything other than what they know?  How can the children learn anything other than what they see around them, in their friends and family.

Yet the schools are beholden to the government, which many would say has a vested interest in things NOT changing. If we say that the schools must educate for change, than what should they teach?  I have a department full of neo-marxists who have their ideas.  Should that be what is taught?  Or, as with KIPP and others like them, should the focus be on teaching the students the skill necessary to excel in the world as it is assuming that if they make it in this world they have a better chance of changing the world for their children? 

But if we do that, aren’t they just going to want to perpetuate the privilege they have gained for their children in this system?  Part of why the great revolution has never happened is because people are more afraid of the devil they don’t know than the devil they do.  I may think it’s unfair that Bill Gates makes orders of magnitude more than the person who cleans the bathroom near his office, but that person may be satisfied that they aren’t making what the migrant farm worker makes, and that person may be glad that they aren’t turning tricks.

I don’t know the answers to these questions.  What I do know is that it is more complicated than most people realize.  My father would have said that poor people don’t work hard enough, and even as a child I knew that wasn’t true.  But I worry about the idea of any type of governmentally funded organization, even one as generally benevolently intended as schools and teachers, trying to educate for change.  At best it will be change within limited parameters and at worst it will just be a different form of indoctrination.

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