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We Have What We’ve Educated For – Now What?

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We Have What We’ve Educated For – Now What?

 By Linda Dobson

“You were not born to desire ‘things’ and consume more rapidly than you can earn money. Consumers are created, programmed with scientific accuracy like Pavlov’s dogs and sold something far more expensive than even the fanciest car you can imagine – the reality of a life spent spinning on the economic merry-go-round, chasing the fleeting pleasures of consumption while the money controllers push the buttons of your thinking and manufacture your next desire. Want more, earn more, spend more; the merry-go-round keeps on turning…”

The Art of Education: Reclaiming Your Family, Community and Self, 1995

When it arrived in my e-mail box, it wasn’t a surprise. The feeling in the pit of my stomach was akin to the one you get when you know someone you care about, obviously on a collision course with disaster, actually has that something awful come to pass. You saw it coming; you warned about it, in fact. Yet knowing the logical, foregone conclusion still didn’t appropriately prepare you for the day when, inevitably, what was once a future “something awful” became today’s reality.

This analogy is as close as I can get to the feeling at the moment I saw that e-mail, but it falls shy of conveying the depth of sadness and concern for my grandchildren – and yours – delivered with the news that “Nowism” is viewed as a key trend in our society, one which marketers are exploiting with great enthusiasm.

Living for Instant Gratification

MerryGoRound instant gratification

Going nowhere at the speed of sound.

Nowism, according to “Consumer ingrained lust for instant gratification is being satisfied by a host of novel, important (offline and online) real time products, services, and experiences. Consumers are also feverishly contributing to the real-time content avalanche that’s building as we speak. As a result, expect your brand and company to have no choice but to finally mirror and join the ‘now’ in all its splendid chaos, realness, and excitement.”

Here’s another tidbit of explanation: “The power of all things ‘NOW’ can be traced back to the eternal lure of instant gratification and our current consumer societies handily accommodating and encouraging this relentless pursuit of instant information, communications, pleasure, if not indulgences. En passant reducing the ‘now’ to mere minutes, if not seconds.”

Here’s where it gets really interesting. This pursuit of instant gratification – with a focus on experience, we’re told – is causing us as a society to do everything possible to cram more activity into increasingly diminished time frames. Convenience reigns while energy boosts provided by everything from drinks to shampoo to chewing gum keep us going “now.”

Consider that new energy drink launches increased over 110 percent between 2004 and 2009. The Walkstation, a height adjustable computer work station, sports a treadmill so we can burn calories without ever taking our eyes off the computer monitor. If they were on schedule, December saw the launch of gScreen’s Spacebook laptop – it includes two 15-inch screens.

The Addictive Instant Gratification

The lust, concludes, to collect as many experiences as possible is addictive. And we haven’t even begun talking about the speed of the real-time Web.

Facebook, Twitter, livestream, Topsy, crowdeye, Ever growing numbers of applications that can let us know what others are doing moment-to-moment. We don’t even have to sit in front of a computer to find out, either, as iPhone, BlackBerry, Palm Pre, Apple Tablet, Android and Booklet 3G, among others, allow us to take the instant info with us as we flit from place to place.

At the very same time, in August, 2009, The Boston Consulting Group reported that nearly half of all women said the big stress in their lives is the demand on their time, with 45 percent stating they don’t have enough time for themselves. This can’t be healthy for women, children or marriages.

Researchers are telling us that multi-tasking muddles brains, even when the computer is off, according to an August, 2009 article in Wired Science at ( Muddled brains can’t be healthy, either, whether for individuals or entire societies.

Instant Gratification or the Result of Teaching Consumerism?

“…consumer ingrained lust for instant gratification.” “The power of all things ‘NOW’ can be traced back to the eternal lure of instant gratification.” “The lust to collect as many experiences as possible is addictive.” Despite the consequences, people stay on the merry-go-round now turning at ever-increasing speed. The indoctrination in consumerism experienced in government schools, bolstered by a cacophony of advertisements and sales pitches everywhere, has reached a level of unhealthiness of which I couldn’t have conceived in 1995 while writing The Art of Education.

See also “Transitioning To or From Homeschooling

Zygmunt Bauman, a sociologist, sees additional consequences of today’s whirling merry-go-round, something he calls “liquid modernity,” taking the place of “solid” modernity that once existed. “Social forms and institutions no longer have enough time to solidify,” Wikipedia reports on Bauman’s theory, “and cannot serve as frames of reference for human actions and long-term life plans…Individuals have to splice together an unending series of short-term projects and episodes that don’t add up to the kind of sequence to which concepts like ‘career’ and ‘progress’ could be meaningfully applied. Such fragmented lives require individuals…to abandon commitments and loyalties without regret and to pursue opportunities according to their current availability. In liquid modernity the individual must act, plan actions and calculate the likely gains and losses of acting (or failing to act) under conditions of endemic uncertainty.”

“But if one looks at what actually goes on in the classroom – the kinds of texts students read and the kind of homework they are assigned, as well as the nature of the classroom discussion and the kinds of tests teachers give – he will discover that the great bulk of students’ time is still devoted to detail, most of it trivial, much of it factually incorrect, and almost all of it unrelated to any concept, structure, cognitive strategy, or indeed anything other than the lesson plan. It is rare to find anyone – teacher, principal, supervisor, or superintendent – who has asked why he is teaching what he is teaching.”

Charles E. Silberman, Crisis in The Classroom, 1970

It has come to pass: we are reaping what we’ve sown. We have what we’ve educated for. Now what?

Please continue to encourage your friends and family to join you in homeschooling.

 Originally appeared in Home Education Magazine


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