Finally we can put this unseemly business behind us


The seventh lesson I teach is that one can’t hide. I teach students that they are always watched, that each is under constant surveillance by me and my colleagues. There are no private spaces for children; there is no private time. Class change lasts exactly three hundred seconds to keep promiscuous fraternization at low levels. Students are encouraged to tattle on each other or even to tattle on their own parents. Of course, I encourage parents to file reports about their own child’s waywardness too. A family trained to snitch on itself isn’t likely to conceal any dangerous secrets.

I assign a type of extended schooling called “homework”, so that the effect of surveillance, if not the surveillance itself, travels into private households, where students might otherwise use free time to learn something unauthorized from a father or mother, by exploration or by apprenticing to some wise person in the neighborhood. Disloyalty to the idea of schooling is a devil always ready to find work for idle hands.

The meaning of constant surveillance and denial of privacy is that no one can be trusted, that privacy is not legitimate. Surveillance is an ancient imperative, espoused by certain influential thinkers, a central prescription set down in The Republic, The City of God, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, New Atlantis, Leviathan, and a host of other places. All the childless men who wrote these books discovered the same thing: children must be closely watched if you want to keep a society under tight central control. Children will follow a private drummer if you can’t get them into a uniformed band.

One Reply to “Finally we can put this unseemly business behind us”

  1. Which explains why we are a paranoid society. Brilliant! Wow, this guy might have missed his callling as a sociologist. I have to admit,
    even though I was a psych major, I really never analysed the pedagogy of the institutions that I went to for education. I have just trusted, implicitly,
    the educators that spoon fed me. Except my English lit teacher. She had a bottle of vodka in the second drawer, so, I knew I was being taught
    by a boozer. -Jeff

Comments are closed.