[commentary] On Education as Acquired Stories


[commentary] On Education as Acquired Stories

January 2017

We were watching today in class a video clip of Trump’s inauguration speech. Over sixteen minutes, Trump tells a story of who we are, where we came from, what ails us now, what the effective solutions are, and what the future will look like.

He spoke with passion, and I found his story convincing.

I was forced to actively turn a critical eye to his story, trying to identify which causalities, which events, and which characters were more fictional than real.

It took a surprising amount of effort.

While I was walking back from class to the tailor to pick up my jeans, the quote popped into my head, “Whoever controls the past, controls the future.”

I think I understand this now with even more clarity. And I think this quote should be ever present on our minds.

Individuals with a lack of history, a lack of education, and a lack of knowledge beyond their immediate present- are so incredibly susceptible to manipulation.

I think of Elijah Muhammad’s race narrative. I think of the US War in Iraq.

We face serious epistemological constraints. An anti-fragile world is one in which history is constantly being explored by the many. This must be a focus from day to day. 

In some sense and to only a certain extent, Trump’s populist rise began the day we approved a particular US history book for US high school students. It seems to me that any serious progressive movement must as part of its larger long term strategy, consistently campaign for serious and honest history books at the grade school, middle school, and especially the high school level. 

But long term strategies are always the hardest to execute.