The Oppressive Educational System

Advanced Psychology Research Center inTiburon

    As a result of a tragic event at a Denver school where two teenagers killed 13 people and themselves, the nation’s attention has been focused on factors influencing depression, anger and violence particularly by male teenagers.

    I have read in the newspaper and heard on radio and TV many debates about the problem and its solutions. I have heard far less discussion about the root cause of the problem and a search for its solution. Yes, there has been a recognition that students who are lower performers, not athletic and who are bullied by their schoolmates are more likely to suffer depression, anger and to react violently. I suggest that the search for the root of the problem has not been exhaustive and that this search will find that the roots of the problem lay in our culture and our views about how to conduct ourselves in the workplace and in the schools that help prepare students for the workplace.

    John Cleese has suggested that 90% of business organizations manage predominantly by fear, ie: there are consequences that threaten a person’s security and well-being if they do not act consistent with the organization’s expectations and culture. My personal experience in the workplace and the research that I have undertaken over the past ten years have convinced me that we have got it wrong. We have designed an autocratic and mechanistic workplace that has been successful in achieving material goals and blatantly unsuccessful in creating a quality of life in the workplace, an opportunity for people to work with joy.

    W. Edwards Demming stresses that the underlying objective of his philosophy outlined by his fourteen points is to provide an opportunity for people to work with joy. The inference is that this is not the case. A parallel exists in the educational system, our children are not learning with joy or in many cases are teachers instructing with joy. Rather, we have adopted a structured and uncreative approach in which we teach our children to memorize facts rather than facilitate their ability to explore, discover and learn.

    I suggest that the root cause of the depression faced by many teenagers is that they are being forced to meet the expectations of an unhealthy educational system. This struggle is far more difficult for the student who’s underlying personality is one that wishes to foster creativity, exploration, discovery and learning. It can be understood that students with this inclination are not as successful within the current educational system as those who are willing to follow the rules and suppress their needs in order to be successful in an unhealthy educational system. Our society is suffering the pains from having chosen a mechanistic and materialistic root to survival. We urgently need leaders within our community who can help us find the pathway to a successful and meaningful lifestyle which also yields sufficient material success to satisfy the needs of all.

    I personally believe this way is awaiting discovery and that many have discovered it but are unable to be heard within what has become a largely self-serving and competititve struggle to gain financial security no matter what the means.

    What is our primary challenge? I suggest it is that those who lead us today have succeeded within a system that has been driven by material terms for the few who have capital, unsuccessful from a material viewpoint for the majority for those who rely on their wages for survival and unsuccessful and in fact corrupt for the spiritual life of the whole community. Not too many years ago, people who spoke out against the existing power structure in China were executed. There was no freedom of speech. Fortunately, our society is open to dialogue and I believe it is now time to challenge the ways of the past and work together to build a healthy and meaningful future for all.

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