Who you are doesn't matter, who we will make you does

I recently recalled a statement of Mr. Kennedy's that, in respect to the other revelations of the . . . inquisitions, didn't seem that important at the time. I realise now that it represents one of, if not the, key failing in education.

Those of you who've read the article that caused all the trouble know that in it I pointed out that in actuality, if not in practice, teachers work for students. In response to this, Mr. Kennedy said, "Teachers work for students? No. Get that clear. We work for your parents."

This statement makes perfect sense if you accept the not so uncommon assumption that teachers are nothing more than glorified babysitters. I don't have that much of a problem with thinking of Mr. Kennedy this way. Being a nanny is probably the most prestigious career he could hope to obtain. But even I, with al my cynical heart, cannot use Mr. Kennedy as the example by which to judge all educators. That would be too cruel.

Most people will agree that teachers serve a purpose beyond simple babysitting, that purpose being to educate students. And just how does this serve parents? Are students some sort of commodity that needs to be improved so that parents can get a good return? Are we some sort of tame monkeys that need to be trained to play the piano to entertain guests at parties? In spite of what Mr. Kennedy and others like him may believe, the answer is no.

Along with all the other propaganda that's been crammed down my throat over the years, I've been told almost continuously that school is for my own good. I'm willing to agree with that in some ways, the operative words being my own. I haven't sat through countless hours of tests, lectures and mindless busy work for anyone else. I've done it for me, and if has been for anyone else I'd like to take this opportunity to ask for thirteen years of my life back.

Is some secret intelligence somehow profiting from education? With the growing number of students who blindly accept what is passed off as appropriate and correct, I don't doubt it. You'll find phrases such as "teaching acceptable social behavior", "imparting proper morality" and "learning to compete in today's competitive society" to be common in any recent publication on education.

It seems that the only moral thing to do would be to impartially give students information and allow them to evaluate it for themselves, but any observant person knows that this isn't happening. Students are molded to fit the roles society makes for them and then sent on their way as happy little drones.

I couldn't blame teachers for allowing some of their personal opinions to creep into the classroom. They are only human. The problem is that the ministry of education's primary mandate is not to educate students, but to make them able to compete in society. This has lead to the oppressive environment of schools in which free interpretation, opinion and thought are frowned upon, if not, as in the case of NLSS, formally banned.

So long as the focus of the education system remains on the product, rather than the process, it can be called nothing more than condoned brainwashing.