Further on the future of edumacation

February 7, 2024 by Lucian Mogosanu

Perhaps I was a wee bit too harsh in my previous article on the state of education. I hope that the reader will forgive me, but then again the discerning reader won't have to, because he will no doubt understand that I only wrote those harsh words for the love of what once used to be education -- which calls for a clear distinction between yesterday's "education" and today's "edumacation".

In all fairness, today's edumacation is able to provide some vague remnants of what was only yesterday education, along with large piles of simulacra, sprinkled with whatever fashionable nonsense is spawned out of today's various subcults. By and large, kids today go through the same steps as we did back in the day, with slight alterations and a serious lack of any sort of substance to make the whole thing up. Conceivably there is still someone somewhere in backwater Romania teaching kids the actual meaning of, say, L = F x s; I wish him all the good health in the world, 'cause he's going to go through some very rough changes.

Just like e.g. the pension system is quite visibly unsustainable in the West -- and let's not even go there, mmkay? -- the current simulacra work well enough such that the proverbial edumacation system is much less visibly unsustainable; yet just as unsustainable at its core. As I've anticipated previously, institutionalized edumacation cannot continue under its current form mainly because it no longer functions properly as a labour market. In other words, there are scarcely any competent people left to keep the thing going, and even the competent ones are way too distracted by all sorts of crap to carry on in this filthy manner.

All the same, the institution of edumacation can't simply cease to exist all of a sudden, "for very important reasons", as your local democratic government insists. So while the smarter ones among the parents are already fleeing towards some form of privatized education, the poorer ones... well, I foresee that they will simply let their offspring be absorbed into The Geostationary Truth Machine. In other words, because for some reason this wasn't clear the first time I said it: the future is Facebook and/or TikTok.

Those who look more closely will observe that this future is already here in certain ways. Leaving aside the observation that today's urbanite kids are spending way more time on these -- maybe not exactly these, but really, why would you care? -- platforms than they do in school, you can already find teachers of all disciplines practicing some new style pedagogy in the very same place -- all this leaving aside edumacational platforms á la Coursera, who are already working from a business model, at least supposedly. So let me say it yet again in other words: as broken as they are, YouTube and TikTok are already in some sense way more reliable teaching systems than today's schools could ever hope to be.

If you don't believe me, check out this psycho1:

Adrian Sârbu: Da. Şi eu părinte, acum sunt şi părinte şi copil, am să propun o schimbare majoră a Constituţiei şi anume Parlamentul să fie făcut nu din cetăţeni care au minim 30 de ani, cum e la Senat la noi sau nu ştiu, 28, nu, Senatul României să fie alcătuit din cetăţeni care au maxim 18 ani. Aoleu! Şi Camera Deputaţilor? Maxim 16 ani. Şi preşedintele? Maxim 10 ani. Hai, 12, merge! Şi prim-ministrul? Între 6 şi 8. Asta propun eu din partea Partidului Copiilor. De ce? pentru că aceştia oameni sunt şi ei oameni, nu sunt omuleţi, că sunt mai micuţi. La 12 ani sunt mai dezvoltaţi ca mulţi. Şi aceşti oameni vă dau o percepţie mai reală, mai puternică, mai adâncă asupra libertăţii. Poate au o onestitate mai mare decât cei care ne reprezintă azi în mod fraudulos, de fapt fraudulos, şi nedrept în calitate de lideri. Şi atunci, până schimbăm Constituţia, v-aş ruga doamna Deca, doamna Leca, lăsaţi copiii, cum spune dl. Nemo, lăsaţi copiii, respectaţi libertatea copiiilor şi, dacă tehnologia şi dl. Steve Jobs au inventat iphone-ul, dvs. trebuie să găsiţi soluţii pentru a folosi această fereastră către lume ca să vă luminaţi copiii, da? De aia sunteţi dascăli şi nu sunteţi gardieni.

Or, loosely translated by yours truly:

Adrian Sârbu2: Yes. I, also a parent, now I'm a parent as well as a child, will propose a major change of the Constitution that is, the Parliament should be made up not by citizens of minimum 30 years of age, the way it's in our Senate or, I don't know, 28 -- no, the Romanian Senate shall be made up of citizens who are maximum 18 years old. Oh my! And the Chamber of Deputies? Maximum 16 years of age. And the president? Maximum 10 years of age. Maybe 12, that'd work! And the prime minister? Between 6 and 8 years old. That's my proposal on behalf of the Children's Party3. Why? because these people are also people, they aren't little folks just because they're smaller. At 12 years of age they're more developed than many others. And these people give you a more real, more powerful, a deeper perception on liberty. Maybe they possess a bigger honesty than those who fraudulently represent us, in fact fraudulently and unjustly as leaders. And then, until we change the Constitution, I would ask you miss Deca, miss Leca4, leave the children, as Mr. Nemo says, leave the children5, respect the liberties of children and, if technology and Mr. Jobs invented the iphone, you need to find solutions to use this window into the world6 to enlighten the children, yes? That's why you're teachers and not guardians.

The guy is either doing some sick trolling or he's demented, I can't really tell. Either way, in all this rambling one can find a certain "polarizing", i.e. extremist truth: there's no middle way between banning phones on school premises and altogether dismantling schools as we know them. And between the two alternatives, 2020s Romania is neither 1980s Romania nor 2020s DPRK7, so I think we have a pretty good idea how this is going to play out.

  1. Archived, for what it's worth. 

  2. In case you don't know him, guy was one of the first Reality TV owners in Romania. Seriously, if you have the patience look up some of the older Pro TV stuff, it's freely available on the internets. If you understand the language, you'll understand what I mean. 

  3. Seriously, this sounds like something out of a B-rated movie in ye early 2000s USA. 

  4. He's referring to Ligia Deca, the current apparatchik in charge of edumacation. What, you thought I was kidding

  5. Won't somebody think of the children?!? 

  6. It's certainly a window into a world, that's for sure. A stunted world made out of cheap metaphysical plastic, but a world nevertheless. 

  7. There's some similarity between the two examples, but current Romania ain't either of 'em. 

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2 Responses to “Further on the future of edumacation”

  1. #1:
    Cel Mihanie says:

    Now you dun it. You said the E-word. My berserk button.

    We may have had this conversation before, I don't know, but way I see it, education has two chief components: instruction and indoctrination.

    Instruction consists of putting allegedly ideologically-neutral information into the kid's head, like how to do "maffs", how to "write good", etc. This is done because it is good in itself (the idealist view), because it is required for the kid to survive in a technological civilization (the neutral view) and because it prepares the kid for being useful in the labor market (the cynical view).

    Indoctrination consists of attempting to instill the ideological/cultural values of the society into the kid, good or bad as they may be. This sounds evil, and often is in practice, but you can't fault a collective for wanting to ensure a new member is compatible and not an enemy. The ultimate effect depends on the society... A Nazi society will of course try and often succeed in instilling Nazi beliefs through education. And even harmless societies will bother the kid with all sorts of obscure old authors that were never that great on a global scale, but they're "our" authors. In the end you can't avoid this aspect. In theory kids should be free to make up their mind themselves, but we live in real life, not some libertautist fantasy, and collectives will always have a say.

    Anyway. Education as conceived up to now (basically the Prussian model) is completely and utterly defeated, finished and doomed on both fronts, mainly due to technology. Yes, technology is not a magic bullet, adoption is slow, 99% of content is still crap, but still... YouTube alone can and does instruct and indoctrinate people at a scale and finesse that traditional methods can never possibly compete with. I know I've talked about kids being glued to their tablets, which is bad, yes, but one is not going to fix it by dreaming of bygone pășunist Dl Trandafir days, or bygone ceaușist days with the proverbial enthusiastic pionier sucking up to the proverbial respected Domprofesor in a suit. For the Prussian system, it's game over, man. The indoctrination aspect of it has it even worse, as there is a mass delusion and denial about the exact set of values society is trying to instill. Allegedly we're supposed to indoctrinate kids into being rational, respectful, hardworking, lawful, nonviolent, yadda yadda. It doesn't work, the kids don't believe a word of it. Because they can both feel that society is lying about the values it supposedly believes in, and because the Internet is much more convincing in showing that the world works completely differently to these values (regardless of how true that statement is).

    I find it honestly incredible how deluded people nowadays are, especially Romanians and Boomers in general, about "education". They all see it as some sort of magic thing that will make all problems go away. If only we had "more education", they bleat, surely that would do the trick! Bet they wouldn't want a Nazi society to educate its kids "more", now would they? And in any case, all the "more" in the world will not make a difference to a system that is obsolete and failed to its very core. No more than "more" CPR would help on a body when, alas, it just so happens that the head is in some bushes 50m away. "Lesions incompatible with life", as the saying goes.

    Which finally brings me to I guess what my main point re. your article is, namely: I don't think "better people" in the system will help either. The better people are out there on YouTube, the better people are using the new technologies and trying to rescue what little can be rescued, the better people escaped the sinking ship or had the sense to never get on board, the better people is you, frankly. The old system is deader than disco. Let it rot.

    As for Sârbu, the PRO TV guy, he's clearly trolling in this particular instance but I've heard many of his other statements over the years and yes, he's generally pretty out there, and not in a good way. Fitting that he should mention the Children's Party (again with the CHEELDREN!!), "infantile" is how I'd describe his usual ramblings. CEOs are often like that, especially American(ized) ones. In a way his grisly vision has already come true. The mental age of politicians is clearly in the toddler area, and as for the president... I don't know. Can a piece of furniture be said to have a mental age?

  2. #2:
    spyked says:

    Way I see it, this distinction between "instruction" and "indoctrination" is entirely arbitrary -- all education is indoctrination, whether we're talking about reading and writing (one cannot be separated from the other, can it? and reading can't be separated from the language and the specific texts/ideas being parsed) or the practices involving vigorous physical activity in ancient Lacedemonia. We may live to see the times when people become subjects to indoctrination entirely without the expensive need to read and write. Emojis and ubiquitous audio/video seem to be steps in that direction, among others.

    I agree that the system has a systemic problem and that the labour issue is merely a consequence. Still, just like you said:

    > Yes, technology is not a magic bullet, adoption is slow, 99% of content is still crap, but still...

    Still, a choice between raising folks in the old pile of garbage versus raising them in the brand new one ain't much of a choice if you ask me. Let me exemplify this dilemma through the following example: how do you teach a kid to discern between "good" and "bad" yt videos in an age where Google's algorithm is hell bent on shoving nonsense down everyone's throat? Plenty of edumacated adults have trouble sorting this out today, so unless through some feat of evolution the next generation learns to game the game (how though?), it's bound to run into the same issues.

    I'm pretty sure we're almost back in a postmodern version of the medieval times, where "proper" education is reserved to the select few. And by "select few" I don't necessarily mean Gates and his ilk.

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