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Chomsky Gives Students Lesson in Free Thinking

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  • Dan Clore
    News & Views for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo http://tinyurl.com/4qcvs3 Linguist gives students lesson in free thinking
    Message 1 of 1 , May 17, 2008
      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      Linguist gives students lesson in free thinking
      Dundee-Crown talks politics with MIT professor
      By Emily Krone
      Daily Herald Staff
      5/17/2008 12:16 AM

      In a second-floor classroom at a Carpentersville high school, one of
      America's most renowned free-thinkers warned about 40 assembled students
      that the American public school system conspires to blunt their
      creativity and engender their obedience.

      Via speakerphone from his office at the Massachusetts Institute of
      Technology, linguistics professor Noam Chomsky told Dundee-Crown High
      School students that a two-tiered educational system exists: While the
      elite attend schools that promote critical, independent thought, the
      masses attend schools that train students to pass tests and follow orders.

      The system evolved after the Industrial Revolution, Chomsky said, when
      the ruling elite recognized the need to transform independent artisans
      and farmers into pliant factory workers.

      Today as then, Chomsky said, the imperative is the production of a
      docile work force that will perpetuate the status quo.

      Many public schools teach students that "the highest aspiration is to be
      a nurse or a policeman," Chomsky said. "It's indoctrination: That's my
      place in life. That's the way the school system works."

      But Chomsky's claim that schools don't promote critical thought was
      undermined by the willingness of Community Unit District 300 officials
      to facilitate a dialogue with the radical provocateur for the second
      time this school year.

      Chomsky agreed to chat regularly with Dundee-Crown students after Bruce
      Taylor, a social science teacher at the high school, last year crashed
      his Boston office and engaged him in a conversation.

      "I guess it left an impression," Taylor said.

      Chomsky's first phone discussion with Dundee-Crown students earlier this
      year drew about 260 students, teachers and community members, Taylor said.

      The students who assembled after school Friday came of their own
      volition, Taylor stressed. They approached the speakerphone to pose
      questions they had prepared, or thought up on the spot.

      "It was fantastic," said junior Ryan Nanni, who asked the question that
      touched off the discussion about the American public school system.

      "He has a whole outside perspective that's so different than everything
      that students usually hear," Nanni said.

      During the one-hour discussion, Chomsky expounded on a range of topics,
      including the danger of unbridled consumerism, the Pentagon Papers, the
      proposed "gas-tax holiday," illegal enemy combatants and '60s radicalism.

      He asked students whether they would characterize, as the U.S.
      government does, a 15-year-old who throws a grenade at an invading
      American army as an illegal enemy combatant.

      And he suggested that the working definition of terrorism, as defined by
      the U.S. government, would make America the world's leading terrorist state.

      The goal of the these informal discussions, Taylor said, is to spark
      debate -- and thought -- rather than to espouse a particular political view.

      "The root of education is the need to be challenged," Taylor said. "The
      open forum of ideas is what we're trying to stress."

      Dan Clore

      My collected fiction: _The Unspeakable and Others_
      Lord We├┐rdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      Skipper: Professor, will you tell these people who is
      in charge on this island?
      Professor: Why, no one.
      Skipper: No one?
      Thurston Howell III: No one? Good heavens, this is anarchy!
      -- _Gilligan's Island_, episode #6, "President Gilligan"
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