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Abby Em's picture

Professor, you suggested last

Professor, you suggested last week that structure, rather than just something society imposed on education, was maybe something that was itself a product of the education system. That its the structured education that conditions us to want or need a society and consequently an education system dominated by order and boundaries. I strongly disagree that the desire for structure and boundaries comes from the design of the modern education system; it is simply so much older than that. Part of my thesis project, actually (in English) has to do with religion, ancient and modern, is designed with this desire in the forefront. The opening chapters of the Bible depict the incident in the Garden of Eden, in which the punishment for disobedience is the removal of the protective walls, a loss of the boundaries meant to keep the good in and the bad out. This is itself a certain kind of societal teaching, imprinting on people at an early age the importance of obedience and the perils of losing the structure you started with. Though a different kind of education, in this case religious, perpetuates structure, the motivations behind such stories come, I believe, from an innate desire to have something to contain the chaos. A world without rules is something we resist from our very core, both from fear and because, as inherently finite, limited beings, we want our world to be more like us so that we have a place in it. (I am taking such religious texts as the product of devout societies, not the literal word of God- if this is something you disagree with, ignore this argument). 


If you look at structure as we've been discussing it as boundaries, it starts to look even more like something we seek and in some ways need just as human beings, not as products of a system that tells us we do. Parenting advice always talks about how both your toddlers and your teenagers ( ;) ) will aim to "push the limits" to "figure out where the boundaries are." As a child, you defy your parents *wanting* them sometimes to say no, to clarify where your place is in the world. We don't want to be floating in infinity with no ground beneath us.


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