A New Consciousness Is Replacing Education
The public does not know that for many schools K–12, when the schools are open under normal circumstances, what is called "learning" is minimal. At least half of the students are in a non-educational or anti-educational mode. This reality is never mentioned when talking about opening or not opening schools.
Adding in masks, plastic dividers, and rules for social distancing in NYC and other madhouse urban schools will, independent of fears about COVID, result in a doubling down on the insanity. All day long, teachers are struggling to have "order." The cursing, mouthing off, restlessness, inattention, screaming, constant talking, lack of homework, assaults, robberies and attempted robberies, throwing of paper and objects, lack of basic supplies, etc. are more typical of the time in class in many schools than the fantasy of "classroom learning." Yet I never see this reality mentioned. Please don't think schools being open means students eager to learn or compliant with instructions or raising their hands, eager to answer the teacher's questions.
Even 30 years ago, the public schools in New York, for example, were not prototypes of Garden of Eden harmony. This writer substituted in a 2nd-grade classroom in a school where the teachers were yelling at the students all day long in an attempt to keep order. It was bedlam. I was mistakenly assigned there: my license was for grades 7–12, but in all things large and small, the Department of Education at that time was mired in mistakes and malfeasance. (Some efficiencies later enacted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg did allow for smoother functioning.)
One of the second-graders was standing on a table at the start of the school day. I asked him why he was standing on a table and told him he was supposed to sit at his desk. He replied jauntily, "I can stand anywhere I want to!" This mindset could be observed in a large number of students in that classroom and in the school.
In another school known for violence and mayhem, all students had to have their book bags scanned for weapons every morning, and students were randomly body-scanned for weapons when they entered the building. Eighteen security officers were assigned to the building with the power to arrest but carried no weapons. Additionally, two full-time armed police officers were assigned to the school. Fights continually were breaking out, weapons were being smuggled into the school, and one day a female student was shot in the leg exiting the building. There was also a full-scale riot between Jamaican and Haitian students. None of these incidents was reported in any newspaper or on TV.
Also, please do not embrace the idea that technology gives the students a greater sense of personal control and mastery over the educational process. In one violent school, through the ingenuity and dedication of one of the teachers, a computer lab was set up to give the students a taste of the excitement of working at their own pace online. Some of the students were so appreciative that they put crazy glue in their keyboards, and when this teacher gently told one 15-year-old to move her cursor a little to the left, she kicked back her chair, declared that I was a f------ a------ and stormed out of the room, slamming the door. Two years later, she admitted to me that she was high on drugs at the time. Even if students are home with "distance learning," do not assume that they are applying themselves in a determined, steadfast way. For vast numbers of students, schools and "education" are just serving as an expensive babysitting institution.
Then, too, using their cell phones since childhood has inculcated a sense of power and knowing something at a very young age, although in fact vast numbers of students are barely literate. They can get the cartoon characters to leap or die at will on their puerile screens. Instead of playing outside and becoming socialized, and instead of doing homework and hitting the books, they are becoming — to coin a term — virtualized. Their reality is a split screen — people and things on one side lie outside the child and adolescent world, and mostly cannot be controlled. Then the cell phone and videogame reality over which they have almost total control is on the other side of the reality dichotomy. This amazing split between personal and physical reality and the reality of the virtual world is incipient schizophrenia.
In this split consciousness, the cell phone, virtual side increasingly tends to become dominant in the individual's struggle to define reality. This dominance of virtual consciousness might be named Cellphone Megalomania Syndrome (CMS).
Power-mad indignation at matters far beyond their competence and understanding becomes a norm for those raised with this split consciousness. Other people and real things cannot be controlled the way the cartoon characters on the phone or in videogames can be controlled. Their every impulse to kill, maim, or jump tall buildings in a single bound is satisfied. Out of immersion in virtual realities, a new type of person begins to be formed. This person emerges in its pure, maniacal form in protests, riots, and insurrections from coast to coast.
Putting a middle finger in the face of armed cops three times your size might make sense in the virtual world. But it makes no sense in a real-world context. Sooner or later, both middle fingers will be broken. Burning buildings and looting without being shot is a manifestation of virtual reality. How long can it persist? When the battery dies or the signal is lost, the cell phone goes dead. But the Real Reality continues breathing and walking around. It is the reality of other people who really want the troublemakers and criminals to shut up and go away. They do not need a wall charger in order to exist. And the "Other" will be heard.