I decided to put the movie Idiocracy on in the background as I grade some homework. You can watch the full movie at the bottom of this post.
A man goes into the future to find a country full of stupid people obsessed with money and sex. They are facing a food crisis because they have been watering their crops with a product called Brawndo (Gatorade?). Brawndo’s slogan says it has “got what plants crave”. All the people can do is recite the slogan over and over. They cling to it despite the fact that their crops are dying around them. It’s a commentary on the power of corporate propaganda and the simplistic, sound bite culture that enables it.
Brawndo is eerily similar to education reform. Corporate types tell us that testing, charters, the Khan Academy, online classes and the rest of the bill of goods will lead our students to “success”. People thoughtlessly repeat these mantras, like the vacuous babbling of people who think the Khan Academy is some sort of education solution.
Despite the fact that the reformers are pushing a regime that promises to test children from age 5; despite the fact that charters have been shown to stress obedience from children and teachers while the CEOs that run them make off with obscene profits; despite the fact that online learning celebrates rote memorization and works from a philosophy that teaching is a scripted act; and despite the fact the entire education reform movement is a plot to privatize our last truly public institution, people inside and mostly outside education recite its mantras.
And just like the crops that receive the Brawndo treatment, our children are withering under education deform. They are seeing their schools get closed, their enrichment programs taken away, their most experienced teachers disappear and their futures increasingly determined by an elite that have seen their personal profits skyrocket while the rest of the country suffers under the yoke of unemployment and underemployment.
Education reform “is what students crave”. The more people believe this, the more likely it will be that our country will really resemble Idiocracy.
You can watch the full movie here: