Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
A better educated and informed electorate, yes, presuming that by "educated" you don't have schooling in mind, and by "informed" you don't have media in mind.

The early Labour Party and the New Deal coalition were both built by the efforts of millions of rather poorly schooled folks - union workers and their allies.  They didn't need a high school education, let alone a college degree, to get the basic message of solidarity, or to see how workplace organization and political agitation could have really effects.  That's not the kind of stuff you learn in school, it's the kind of stuff you learn by living it and doing it.  My own brief experience with a labor union, working in grievance and then being involved in contract negotiation, taught me more about politics and organizing than any amount of classes could have ever imparted.

I know a lot of people really mean well when they talk about educating the electorate and all, but too many people seem to think that sitting in school can accomplish all kinds of things that it really can't - and that nobody should ask of it.  You don't teach activism in a classroom.  The lived experience of being in a relatively fair and somewhat meritocratic environment for much of one's formative years makes it all the harder to wake up a lot of young people to the oppressive and unfair nature of society - no matter what they read, remember, and regurgitate.

Likewise, you don't create activists by informing people.  A big problem with the left is that there are too many people like me - people with their hearts and their minds in the right place, but who won't get off their asses and fight.

Social connections to activist movements, regular engagement with the political process, and community involvement are the key.  Sadly, these are what are most lacking in the modern world, and are what are hardest to reconstruct, given the normalization and idolization of the unfettered and atomized individual, and the disconnected nuclear family.

by Zwackus on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 08:57:55 PM EST
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My own experiences in academia, in teaching and the experience of others in public schools also taught me that providing a genuine understanding understanding to the students is not always appreciated. With more traditional administration such activity gets one identified as 'unsound' and moved out or along. And administration can change in a day. It is not so easy to change the approach being taken with any given class.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Feb 1st, 2013 at 01:34:43 AM EST
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Unless you're taking students out of the classroom and doing things in the real world with them, it doesn't matter all that much what you teach them in the classroom.  The lived experience of classroom life is one of learned passivity more akin to courtly politics as anything else.  Satisfy the whims of the ultimate authority and perform according to his/her rules in order to move forward.  Even when the content is sound and the rules fair, like the rule of an Enlightened Monarch, the fact is that it's still an absolutist dictatorship.  Spending day after day living in that environment and following its rules molds and shapes one's personality, and gets one accustomed to natural rhythm and order.  

Actually, it's even more damaging in the hands of a good teacher and an engaging curriculum, as the joy of learning is a reward - submit to the system, and you'll enjoy it and develop useful skills.  Resist, and you'll hate school and end up on the straight track to McDonald's.  See, it's a meritocracy and totally fair, just like life in the real world.  Ha.

Prohibit all schooling for kids between the ages of 12 and 15, and put them to work wherever they can find it.  Let them rejoin as they've aged a bit, if they want, as adults freely seeking education, not children being indoctrinated.  

by Zwackus on Fri Feb 1st, 2013 at 09:05:06 PM EST
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