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Class: The Educated Class vs. Real Life Experience

Artist and author Ray Tapajna explores the gap between the realities of the street and the realities of the classroom. He states that factory work gave him more knowledge about life than the classroom. In a sense, the conclusion of his education gave way to the challenges of authentic learning. In Learning Styles: Whose styles are these and what are they for?, Ray provides a number of interesting insights into his own learning...

The Language of the Educated

There is a language of the educated that holds rank over common sense thinking.

The experience of learning and the experience of being educated are not the same thing. Sometimes, however, there is a tacit assumption that learning and education are synonymous. If we consider learning to be an unavoidable lifelong experience then it would be true to say that learning does occur while we are being educated. At the same time, it is not correct to assume that the vibrancy and pervasiveness of learning is captured within education. While the language of the educated and educators speak about learning, they often do so from a narrow, isolated and self-serving perspective. Learning is something far more significant than being educated.

The tension that exists between what our education has taught us and what our own learning experience inform us represents a kind of void - or an emptiness between schooling and life. In exploring his own experiences, Ray Tapajna contrasts his own education with his life experiences. To do this, he challenges the underlying assumptions embraced by the "language of the educated" and notices a sense of disconnection to "common sense thinking." This common sense thinking, I believe, orignate in his own life experiences that have tended to conflict with what he had learned inside education.

The Realities of the Worker

Somewhere somehow workers have to be encouraged to speak out and write in their own ways about the ills of our society. Why should an educated class without any real world experience run the show? We now have elite groupings who have exported middle class jobs creating a working poor class in the USA.

Ray provides an interesting set of statistics that reveal trends in our economic decline. Barbara Ehrenreich provides a first-hand account of the effects of the working poor on people's lives.

The idea of an educated class without any real world experience is one that captures a fundamental problem. While we would have to admit that education is a real world experience, the point here is really that it is a separate and distinct kind of experience that is often disconnected with the many other "stations of life" that we move through.

Perhaps part of the problem may be that the underlying assumptions of education have become so immersed and subsumed by purely economic orientations to "progress" that education is economy. In a sense, a student is from a very early age a "worker" in training. It may also be that our economic drive is sustained by an ability to avoid, or at least marginalize, what we might call "real world experience" or "common sense thinking" since these kinds of experiences and thinking would challenge underlying assumptions, change priorities, and encourage fundamental change. The language of the educated is, in this sense, the language of avoidance.

If You Are Not Part of Any Network You Do Not Exist

When we talk about networks, they are not solely related to the internet and the computer world. Today, networks might be the stock exchange, bankers, the European Union, the coca fields, clandestine labs, secret landing strips, politicians, bureaucrats, the statistical Americans who are part of some data classification etc.... however, if you are "missing in action" from any of these groupings, you are not counted. You are outside, looking in just as those who are discouraged and no longer seek employment. And if you have given up trying to find a job- you are not part of any data network and are considered employed not unemployed.
- Has Globalism "un-netted" you? -If you are not part of any network, you do not exist

Education is a data network that seeks our attendance and our attention. If we are part of the network, then we are awared with degrees. If we stand outside of the education network, then we are ignored and/or marginalized in society. Our education systems have labels for these people - drop-outs.

Our education systems instill a belief that to be "successful" you must be a contributing member of society. A degree is a symbol of achievement that impliess a readiness to contribute. The problem is, we are usually not invited into deeper conversations about what the nature of success or what a contribution to society means. We are told what they mean. Yet, if we blindly accept and organize our lives around economic definitions of success and contribution, then we isolate ourselves from ourselves.

In a sense we are taught to believe that we need to be part of the data network - that if we are counted and statistically labelled we are then in some manner a successful contributing member of society. If we fall outside of the data network and remain uncounted then the implication is that we are not a successful contributing member of society. The inherent stupidity in this proposition is obvious, yet it is a proposition that drives much of our culture and influences our personal experiences in life.

A Voice In The Matter

Workers have no voice in the matter although they are the core of any economy.

It is much the same in education. The curriculum is the economy. Students have no real voice in the matter of education, although they are the core of learning.


  • Tapart News and Art that Talks
  • Unique Sports and Topical Collectible Art by Ray Tapajna
  • About Globalization
  • About My Job: True, honest, stories
    of people and their jobs

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Hi Brian.
Experienced educators from UPEI, Holland College, the PEI Eastern School Board as well as social workers, business people and researchers in our community gathered together to begin what is now known as the Learning Transitions Research Group (LTRG). The purpose of the group: to explore further the issue of student disengagement during the transitional years (grades 3,6 and 9).

Rob Paterson and I were part of this group, but have since split off and have begun action toward the idea of taking the "streets to the schools". We are working closely with the Superintendent of the Eastern School Board who wants us to develop a pilot so that it can be tested in one of our local high schools.

With Rob's background in social entrepeneurism and mine in theatre and the arts, we've been hammering away at the idea of learning through experience by way of mentors. Hands on, so to speak.

We're still in the very preliminary stages of this and are in collection mode. Every time we sit down to talk about where we are we come up with new ieeas and directions. Needless to say we are open to anything that will help. I, or Rob, I'm sure, will keep you posted on how it all unfolds. We meet tomorrow with our School Board guy to talk about our next move(s).

Hi Cyn,

Interesting idea - take the streets to the schools. Who is the group involved in this? I'd be very interested in knowing how it evolves.

The challenges we face to help undo this facade of learning through 'education' is one that weighs heavy. As a few of us here on PEI move forward with ways to re-engage, or in fact engage for the first time, young learners who have dropped out by grades 3, 6 or 9, we, ourselves, are learning too.

We are learning that the numbers are high and that our children are in big trouble. Not only do they not have any 'common sense thinking' but they have created an impermeable culture centred around not caring about their personal potential.

What we know is that in each child there is creativity and so we are trying to spark this gem that has laid dormant in them for too long. All we need to do is look around at our grown-up selves and see the results of 'economic progress'. One word comes to mind...'DEAD'.

The gap between street smarts and book smarts is broad indeed. If we can't take the school to the streets then perhaps we take the streets to the schools. That, in essence, is what we're proposing with the efforts from our little group here on PEI. How we do it is still in the makings.

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