1…Easy as Breathing

Why DO we accept a compulsory and one-size-fits-all approach to learning and teaching within our communities, one that spans time and space, ignoring the differences existing between communities (each with their own distinct circumstances and educational needs)?

Perhaps it is because the education system has always been overdetermined by the system, which is another way of saying that education (like every other thing in our contemporary world) is overdetermined by what some have called ‘complex society’. Complex society describes our contemporary circumstance, in which everyday life is dependant upon (and therefore overdetermined by) the smooth flow of manufactured goods, foodstuffs, electricity, water, etc. Add to this the effortless removal of all things filthy, dangerous, and polluting from the sphere of everyday life and we’re left with an image of society that appears incredibly efficient and smooth-running, but is deceptively easy in its operation and with machinations that are dangerously opaque.

Just get your phone hooked up, just pay rent, just go to the grocery store, just flush the toilet, just put out the garbage, just buy some shoes, just put your clothes in the machine, just turn the lights on, just go to school, just get a job, just get some exercise.

Never stop, do your best, never stop to take a rest.

Flow in, flow out; breathe in, breathe out. Feeling too stressed? Stop and take a breather. Recession getting us down? Stop panicking and holding your breath (your money), relax, let go, take deep breathes… in… out… work… spend…

Supposedly, reigning-in the system, and making it work for you is as easy as breathing. Alas, it is not. The infrastructures that support everyday life and its smooth functioning are not managed by any one person, (one person who would accept responsibility and be accountable if something went wrong somewhere throughout the supply and disposal chain). We can breath all the air we want, for it may be all we have power over (so far…even if it is polluted to high heaven).

Interdependency is not all bad of course… it works marvellously in complex and diverse ecosystems. Interdependency, however, in a standardized system—a system that is only complex to the degree that its substance and consistency is confusing, its weights and measures arbitrary, and its “control” panel distant, well beyond our control, and perhaps automatic—leads to tremendous feelings of anxiety, fear and depression. These emotions shudder through the population of mass consumers (i.e. you, me, and everyone we know) in waves and tremors. We barely register these feelings before we quickly lock them out of our daily thinkings, makings, doings: it’s all good, things are fine, breathe in… breathe out… keep calm and carry on…

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