I am an Educator. Education is violence

I am torn between being

*someone whose entire life, training, & career are about Education;
*and being someone who loathes with a passion the physical & mental control/violence that educational institutions inflict upon people.

Leonid Afremov, “After School”

Do I really have to explain?

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve gone through school or college. Chances are, also, that you’ve experienced epiphanies of knowledge in classrooms or while studying for class. (Chances are, you could experience some of those epiphanies – not all – while reading on your own, or discussing your reading in a good book club.)

Chances are, you’ve had to deal with a teacher or professor who hates their job, or their boss, or their life, and you just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I’ve experienced a number of educational settings. I’ve also taught in a number of institutions. My child has experienced a few schools in her life. I value schools and colleges. I also hate them for what they do to the most vulnerable of people.

I believe in the power of learning. I also believe that mass education in neoliberal capitalist societies can be intellectually and emotionally destructive. You might learn some facts about how to do equations, but you might also internalize a sense of inferiority because your teacher doesn’t want to waste time with you. Or you might learn to hate learning because your teacher wants to be a dot com millionaire rather than teach classes of struggling students.

And don’t even get me started on body control in schools. There are apparently quotas of bathroom passes per month in schools. There are kids being turned away from lunch because there’s no space in the cafeteria. There are kids ashamed of their homes and their parents, fearful of hallways, terrified of their peers. The climate of most schools is, truthfully, unpleasant.

So yes, I am torn.

I the middle of the night, I sit here, worrying about a child’s school experience. I’ve seen cases where a staff member tries to sweat a child out of her class into an ‘easy’ one.

So I am wishing I could just scoop the child up, and hide her under my wings, and teach her myself.

But, well – having gone through a horrible math education experience myself, I cannot.

So I sit here and wonder why we are slaves to educational institutions, and why they are like this.


My Friday mosque

It’s jum’ah. I chose this mosque today.

The floor of this mosque is soft like the Prophet’s first mosque. The sound of Eternal Being ripples through this mosque.

Every day I come here it is different. كُلَّ يَوْمٍ هُوَ فِي شَأْنٍ

Some days the majesty of fierce waves attacks. Or the surface shimmers like a wet dupatta. Some days it stretches toward the horizon, transparent, barely moving.

Today, grey water is One with misty white-grey sky.

The congregants mutter on the side, preening their feathers.Nothing to say about my clothes or how I am standing, sitting, or kneeling.

Prayer without words rises up through me at Friday prayers


Cleansing off the toxic energies

People will tell you to flee negative energies, but most of us are not always able to choose. There are some people whose negative and profoundly toxic influence we are unable to escape.

I’ve often heard people say “Everybody is basically good” and “We are all the same.” I don’t believe this is the case. I have met enough people who are so profoundly psychologically damaged that they are unable to be anything but harmful in their impact. There are plenty of people, also, in the world who are not nasty because they just need to get ahead, but because they are stuck in a cycle of nastiness, and they are addicted to a diet of spite.

You cannot change them.

The best you can do is limit your exposure to them. You can’t completely avoid them, but you should not let their stench become part of your mental energy.

The second thing to do about such people is to not internalize their nastiness. It’s them, not you.

Vindictive people have a nose for damage: if they sense that a spiteful comment, or a judgmental remark will reduce you to grief or to anger, they will repeat it. Again and again. This includes workplace colleagues, by the way. Don’t struggle to defend yourself. If you know you are in the clear, do not take the ball from them. Drop it like a hot potato. This is about their internal damage and their twisted nature. It is not you.

Third, find a way to wash them off you.

Whenever I have to deal with toxic people, I resort to my ablutions: a) nature b) family and c) good friends.

I sit by Lake Michigan and let the beauty, power, and purity of the water wash over me, cleansing my heart of the immediate impact of damaged souls.

I turn to my family and ground myself in the fact that ultimately they are my focus, and anyone else, especially in the workplace, intersects on a temporary basis with my path.

I connect with good friends whom I know to have clear hearts, finding comfort in the fact that I am nestled in a multitude of positive spiritual energies. The few that are negative, toxic, harmful, and destructive need not be dwelt upon.

Don’t stare into the abyss of these hearts. These people are like flies at a picnic: swat them away, and continue with the barbecue. Find your ablutions and cleanse them off yourself.

Reclaim your life. Push the rubbish into a corner and shut the door on it.