Monday, February 20, 2017

The Paradox of Education

Hola Everybody,
It’s been a while since I posted a blog and a lot of that has to do with being busy working my new gig and stressing over finding a place where I can rest my head. Right now, I have no place. I would submit that I’m the Best-Dressed Homeless Person in NYC! LOL It’s ok, I will persevere. Tonight, a friend who’s aware of my situation, let me use the hotel room she wasn’t going to use the last night of her stay here. Hey, I’m grateful. I’ve been sick these past few days and appreciate the chance to rest without worrying about this or that.

Most likely due to the film, I’m Not Your Negro, I’ve been seeing many white liberals express anguish over James Baldwin’s truth. I was lucky, I discovered Baldwin when I was a teen. I love James Baldwin and if you ever get a chance, pick up some of his non-fiction. It’s some of the most powerful socio-political writing evah... The following is an excerpt I try to post at least once a year.

A Talk to Teachers, by James Baldwin

Delivered October 16, 1963, as “The Negro Child -- His Self-Image”; originally published in The Saturday Review, December 21, 1963, reprinted in The Price of the Ticket, Collected Non-Fiction 1948-1985, Saint Martins 1985.

Since I am talking to schoolteachers and I am not a teacher myself, and in some ways am fairly easily intimidated, I beg you to let me leave that and go back to what I think to be the entire purpose of education in the first place. It would seem to me that when a child is born, if I’m the child’s parent, it is my obligation and my high duty to civilize that child. Man is a social animal. He cannot exist without a society. A society, in turn, depends on certain things which everyone within that society takes for granted. Now the crucial paradox which confronts us here is that the whole process of education occurs within a social framework and is designed to perpetuate the aims of society. Thus, for example, the boys and girls who were born during the era of the Third Reich, when educated to the purposes of the Third Reich, became barbarians. The paradox of education is precisely this -- that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated. The purpose of education, finally, is to create in a person the ability to look at the world for himself, to make his own decisions, to say to himself this is black or this is white, to decide for himself whether there is a God in heaven or not. To ask questions of the universe, and then learn to live with those questions, is the way he achieves his own identity. But no society is really anxious to have that kind of person around. What societies really, ideally, want is a citizenry which will simply obey the rules of society. If a society succeeds in this, that society is about to perish. The obligation of anyone who thinks of himself as responsible is to examine society and try to change it and to fight it – at no matter what risk. This is the only hope society has. This is the only way societies change.

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My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

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