Who Profits From Our Broken Systems?

3871284_orig Lately I’ve been involved in a number of conversations about education at home and abroad (Kazakhstan to be exact). As the director of First Things Foundation, I am very interested in what people think education is. As a former educator (is anyone ever a former educator), I have seen many examples of what education is not. And in this blog I want to relate how our failing education industry is not unlike our failing aid industry.

At the core of both industries (school and aid) is a presumption that the little people on the receiving end of the process don’t know what is good for them. Sadly, one reason that this presumption exists is because this presumption is profitable. Profitable? Yes, profitable.

But for whom?

The presumption that the student and the aid recipient don’t know what is good for them is profitable for those who require a certain outcome from the system. In both cases, the receiver is asked to become something, in the end, that satisfies the needs of the giver. For one hundred years our curricula has been driven by the needs of our most influential businesses and their government clients. Look at this link from STEAM for more on this. It is important. The same can be said of our aid industry. We in the west desire a certain type of recipient nation, a certain type of recipient citizen. Those needs too are driven by the demands of the most powerful economic interests. Go look here to find out more about just what the World Bank is and what it does.

Now, none of this is nefarious in an intentional way. I don’t think schools were designed to retard human potential; I don’t think Carnegie and Rockefeller meant to create human holding containers. Their goal was not to hurt people, it was to create assets, mass producing assets. But today the system is in fact hurting people. The World Bank wasn’t created to manipulate and control developing economies (though this can be, and often is, argued), but it does.

And so things must change. The irony is that the business sector, the nimble and agile part of that sector anyway, is clamoring for change. Some, but not all, recognize that our educational and aid industries aren't of any use... to anyone. In my next blog I’ll talk about what that change should look like and how it has something to do with the word Oikonomia.

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