On "not getting it".

It’s a common cultural tone these days and it is supposed to make you sit up and pay attention.

“I didn’t get it!”

With such a cry, the toddler slams down his spoon, sending bits of meal everywhere, as he asserts his rights to refuse to eat the porridge set in front of him.

Yet, there is a surprising twist to this story. You see, it isn’t a toddler but a fully grown adult who is adopting this posture.

“I didn’t get it!” he barks. “Therefore you must be wrong in trying to speak to me!”

“I didn’t get it!” — he emits again. Therefore you haven’t managed to scale the mountain of my intelligence, to communicate to me!”

It may be true that the teacher lacks the fortitude to get the message across. However, taking up  the challenge of conveying information to an inborn genius who’s never going to “get it” anyway, is hardly ennobling.

Motherhood may be conventionally considered a low status job — but at least the mother is inherently driven to convey what she knows to her own flesh and blood. The school teacher is one step removed from this level. Pay her a certain amount of money, and she might seek to assure that your progeny “gets it”. However, if some of the geniuses fall by the wayside due to a lack of application or ability, she may well turn a blind eye. After all she is only being paid an average wage.

A person who responds to you on the Internet is even less likely to care whether their listeners “get it”. Sure, they may want to impart their ideas and knowledge. But don’t be under any illusion that they are absolutely driven to assure your growth.

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military style = women-style.

I am talking about my experiences on practical  in the school system in Australia. I failed this, after doing really well in all the academic part of the course. (The practice came at the end.) What really shocked me was the way Australian school children viewed their teachers in terms of gender. Specifically, I COULD NOT discipline them if I took an authoritative approach (although a male colleague of mine was able to take that approach with good effect). I had to take a soft and nurturing approach, instead (which did not jive with my personality, and which I was unable to do.) It was also clear to me that all the other female teachers were taking this motherly approach to get things done.

I view female authority differently, because I was brought up and educated within a colonial society (Rhodesia), which had a military model of discipline, and not a parenting model. So, I had a healthy respect for  my female teachers from the word go. It seems that a softer, more parental based approach, does not incline the students to become respectful to any women who happen to be  unlike  their early childhood mothers.

gender stereotypes

As a kid (3 or 4 years old), I couldn’t stand playing girls’ games. You know, I didn’t understand playing house, or why anybody would want to. I liked active games, like hide and seek, cowboys and indians, and I liked playing with blocks and lego. I remember when the teachers at the preschool tried to forcibly resocialise me — they took me away from doing something that I enjoyed (playing with building blocks, alone) and tried to make me join in with a group of girls, who had set up an invisible “house” on a bed. “Blocks are boys’ toys,” the teacher said. “I will ask these girls if you can join them in their game of house.” So, I was put on the bed, and the girls asked me what role I wanted to play, and I had no idea. They must have given me a role — but then I had no idea of how to play it. It was a very awkward experience for me.
Much, much later, as an adult this experience was repeated for me, when I tried to be a school teacher. It was a very awkward experience for me, as there was no grid of logic to the “game” I was supposed to play. It was like there was something — almost hanging viscously in the air — which I was supposed to grasp, and I could feel it there, hanging like a heavy fog, but it was too thin for me to grasp it.

irony and the decline of civilisation

One of the ways you can tell that something is amiss with the state of civilisation as it currently is, is the lack of irony and irony appreciation in the public realm at large.

In Africa, my school teachers were almost all ironic.

Our maths teacher used to tell us: “Open your desks and take out that ghastly pink book which calls itself […]”.

I don’t think you would BEGIN to try talking like this as a teacher in an Australian school, because very soon you would be labelled as having a very bad attitude and for talking in a way that the students didn’t understand and therefore found insulting.

Ah, me. How I have plumetted into hell.

Can’t teach new tricks! The education of the Modern

When I was doing my teaching practicuum — an experience in which I failed, spectacularly, I found a major psychological impediment to be my inability to consider the students to be people like me. Above all, I wanted them to resist my ideas at times, in order to show their fighting spirit, which is to say, their underlying intelligence — which might be different from mine. I didn’t find this spirit, however — which was an outcome shocking and disturbing to me!

The monitor, from the university, therefore found my
approach to teaching “highly paradoxical” because I alternated between being very strict and also tending to very much encouraging free action.


I’d wanted to impart a sense of relation to authority
which was capable of being very independent OR conforming, according to one’s personal strategies. Yet, I found this characteristic difficult to impart to because of the already well developed Modernistic character structure of my
students.

One of the most significant aspects about the training and
education of a Modern is that this training dispenses with that which used to be a part of traditional education systems — the training to resist.


For the modern, he is who he is and that’s all there is too that. He’s pretty pleased with how he is, too — he thinks the way he is to be “universal”.

This presupposition, of course, makes it difficult for him to relate to those of other cultures — a reality that he generally fails to register! His capacity to resist the imposition of control from the outside, especially control by ideological forces, is very limited. He is manipulated by Skinnerian behaviouristic techniques, and therefore fails to see the manipulation for what it is — this is at the basic level of schooling. He is educated only to the sufficient level that is required for the position in society for which he is being groomed (See Louis Althusser).

THe Modern student is also “allowed” to progress through his
education at his own pace (student centred education), as if he were wise enough to manage it himself — thus he is conditioned to choose the path of least resistance in life as the “natural one” (See Nietzsche: “The hand that kills with leniency”.) He is trained especially to be a dully conformist worker and a mere consumer.