Fits & Fugues

Education can be so much more.

Unencorporating Education & The Purpose of Schools Part 1

I have just started reading the book Unencorporating Education by Dr. William J Cook Jr. Already provocative and engaging in the first few chapters, I haven’t made up my mind yet. The thesis of the book as found on the inside flap and on the website reads,

The thesis of this book is simple: the nation’s fundamental institutions, by intent or by default, have abandoned the historical Western idea of education and thus have opened the door for a hostile takeover by corporate America. The result is an educational system, if it may be so called, that has been robbed of its essential human nature (educare) and turned into a rationalized process designed to produce profitable workers, according to industry specifications. The individual is diminished to servitude; true democracy rendered impossible.

There is no correcting the existing system. It cannot be reformed, reinvented, restructured, or salvaged. It must be utterly destroyed and new systems of learning and teachings created -systems worthy of human beings. The suggestions offered here are an attempt to begin the action.

It’s a compelling, unsettling, and uncomfortable premise to be sure. To borrow from Malcolm Gladwell and his book, Blink, my initial “thin slice” is one of resonance with a measure of caution thrown in. A guest blogger, Greg Cruey, on the Dangerously Irrelevant blog has a post that touches on some of the same ideas. Watch for more to come as I work through the rest of the book.


February 11, 2008 - Posted by | Education | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Love the post. It scared me that corporate control over education has become more common place. One element of the whole NCLB mandate is that corporate testing companies are guaranteed multi-million dollar contracts to help enforce this legislation. For America to have true freedom we must have an educated citizenry. It is not the job of schools to prepare employees for the future. This view robs our students of their humanity. Schools exist to teach students to be life long learners and critical thinkers. If we fail in this our future as a nation is not very bright.

    Comment by charlie roy | February 13, 2008 | Reply

  2. How disappointing to see such a poor thought process. So now corporate America is to blame for the failed education system? What rubbish! Those most at fault are pointing the finger elsewhere. The educrats who are overpaid, underperforming and unaccountable are the ones we should bring to trial. Take a look at what as assistant middle school principal makes in NY, Calif–$1ooK is not unusual. Middle school teachers out here in the bay area make the smae starting salary as a Santa Clara University MBA grad—for less work. We cannot fire them, and they continue to produce 50% grad rates, and the lowest scores among all industrialized countries. All for $650B a year! You have all been drinking the cool aid!


    Comment by mike gibbs | February 15, 2008 | Reply

  3. Mike,

    You make my point for me. Corporate America is so vested in having the educational system produce skilled workers for itself that they have driven out the collaboration, problem solving, and critical thinking it claims it values. Education has had to sacrifice all those and the arts and the social sciences and innovation and, and, and so it can measure up to the standards set for us by business. Unfortunately, some of this is our own fault. (See my earlier post America needs workers, for sure, but the time has passed for the knowledge worker. Take a look at Dan Pink’s A Whole New Mind. If we only prepare our kids for work, according to whatever industry standards happen to have the spotlight, the human spirit and all its potential will soon be bereft of substance.

    Also, I’d be careful about overusing the overgeneralized salaries arguments and their exceptions to the norm because embassadors for ethical business like those at Enron, Tyco, and the parade of others in the pantheon of business shame may make an appearance…

    About the “cool aid” drinking, you may be right. We may very well be on the verge of a mass suicide in education at the hands of the corporations who seem to be more concerned with the mighty dollar rather than the lowly human.

    Comment by Rick Tanski | February 16, 2008 | Reply

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