Tuesday, April 5, 2016
The Educational-Military-Industrial Complex
The collective noun of "military spending" is "world." We live in a world of military spending. Like geese in a flock.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (cute acronym, SPIRI, like the nickname of a Swedish exchange student wearing denim overalls, unironically, in 1990) world military expenditure totaled 1.7 trillion in 2015.
The U.S. remains by far the top military spender. [Hey big spender.]
"Exuberance is beauty," said William Blake, but he was not referring to rockets I don't think or mutually assured destruction.
Call me dunderheaded, team Hufflepuff, but why can't we imagine something different? Surely we can! With our large prefrontal cortexes, collective noun, "grey matter."
My kids 8 and 11 are in the American Educational System (AES, SPIRI's frenemy?). They're heirs to our profligate military spending. Little kids! Who haven't yet learned to hate anybody so hard. Boy are we teaching them fast. With sports. But that is a topic for another time.
Our school is heavily invested in robotics (hello DARPA! ::bats eyelashes::), coding (hellllllo, sailor!) and STEM (let's get this party started!). I'm sorry to say it but this is exactly the way our military likes it. We're not raising poets. We are not Ferdinand the sweet bull from the children's story who just wants to sniff the flowers in the hair of ladies of Spain. We are Sparta. [Engineering humans for war.]
Monkey that I am I'm going out on a limb. Is STEM just code for soft porn military spending?
We say we're raising thinkers. We say "content is dead," and that "thinking skills" are the new canon. Perhaps we should then critically think from where this STEM money is coming from? And where the jobs will be; at the helm of what drone array? of which military contractor? Like a sooperfun VRC video game!
"Solving a STEM equation is important, but discoveries in the sciences will only occur when people know how to be alone with their own thoughts. Who is teaching that?" opined Tracey Moore a few days ago in The Chronicle of Higher Education, in her essay, "Theater majors will be vital in the digital age."
To which I say, all well and good. Who isn't up for some interpersonal relations? But, let's go beyond drama.
Let's go beyond competing academic disciplines and ask: Who is teaching peace? Why is that pamphlet not in the hand of every parent and teacher?
I don't want my kids "to learn to act like humans" as Moore suggested would be a boon to us hollow-eyed screen-addicted engineering n' science altar worshippers. I totally don't want my kids to learn to act like humans. That's what's gotten us into all the wars, acting like humans. Whooping and hollering. Screeching for ripe red fruit.
I want my kids to learn that our prefrontal cortexes, collective noun "humanity," can be better more peaceful more loving more equal than what it currently is. In other words, let's progress beyond the Bern.