The paradox is that we live in a society where most Americans accepts the democracy myth to a point where they supported the undemocratic imposition of democracy on Iraq through an illegal war (Zinn and Macedo 120). Most political pundits are against the position on adhering to the proposals on democracy, equity, and social justice. They feel that these are out of touch with the reality or they are just mere insurgent socialistic propaganda. The media, the state, and others work towards the “manufacture of consent” and pliability (Zinn and Macedo 123). However, I would like to hear your comments on the role of schools in the creation and maintenance of this paradox so as to reproduce values that are dominant and ultimately work against the same democratic ideals they promote.
In a way, schools and the educational system prepare young people to live with and accept the paradox and think that it is okay (Zinn and Macedo 126). The ideals present in the society are those given to people by schools because they teach them about the Declaration of Independence and that we live in a democracy where there is justice and equality for all (Zinn and Macedo 127). At the same time, they fail to give them the information that shows how these ideals get violated in their everyday lives. In this way, students are not able to see the discrepancy between the ideals given to them and the reality.
This means that schools are not able to paint an accurate picture of the reality to young people. For example, students are not shown the accurate picture of the class divisions that exist in society and how money dominates all societal aspects from the economic system, political system, educational system, and even culture (Leistyna 170). Also, they do not show students how corporate power and wealth dominate the society or even how the oppressed live. Young people are not given an accurate picture of homelessness, everyday frustrations of unemployment, how the poor live, what it means to be black, or even what it feels to be a tenant subject to a landlord’s power.
This lack of exposure to the reality is the reason as to why, for instance, when you hand a student a book like the Autobiography of Malcom X, they get startled because it is almost always the first time they get in touch with such a compelling and vivid personal story (Zinn and Macedo 131). It becomes their first time to feel what it’s like to be a person of color in society. However, before such an experience, all they know is that there exists discrimination, segregation, and other social injustices imposed on black people but never actually get a chance to really feel its extent within the society.
There are two ways of knowing something; one is superficially knowing something and the other happens when you are hit in your gut by something whether or not you are a victim. However, when you are a victim, you experience rather than learn it. Therefore, our education system has an enormous gap where the young learn about democracy and liberty but not the reality about societal classes. They do not know of the social classes where we have very few wealthy people dominating the society and on the other end, a very large number of people struggling to survive, to provide food for their children, or even send them to school.
Leistyna, Pepi. Presence of Mind: Education and the Politics of Deception. 1st ed. Routledge, 2019.
Zinn, Howard, and Donaldo Macedo. ““Schools and the Manufacture of Mass Deception: A Dialogue”.” Counterpoints, vol. 422, 2012, pp. 120-143. Web.