School of Resentment

Trust in the major institutions of modern society has declined dramatically over the past several decades. George Monbiot cites an Edelman Corporation survey of 28 countries that found that “fewer than 50 per cent of respondent now trust mainstream business, government, media and non-governmental organizations to ‘do what is right'” (Out of the Wreckage, 54-5).

Monbiot admits that “there are plenty of reasons for the collapse in trust,” but devotes attention to “an issue that seldom features in political analysis . . . the nature of schooling” (55).

Schools are set up to encourage and reward certain forms of intelligence (what Monbiot calls “linear, analytic and hyperlexic”) but schools don’t even recognize other forms of intelligence. Monbiot refers to a friend who “can precisely diagnose engine faults by listening,” exhibiting a “spatial, navigational, system-based intelligence” that “was neither tested nor rewarded at school.” This friend was “branded a failure” because he didn’t conform to the norm of intelligence embedded within schooling 56).

School is often “the first sustained contact with both the state and the professional classes,” and many find it “a humiliating and oppressive experience. They are made to feel inferior. The come to see the system as dismissive of their personalities and intelligence.” And they go to war “with the representatives of the system: the teachers” (57).

By their very design, schools “inculcate a resentment towards the professional classes that finds political expression in polemics against the ‘liberal elite'” (57).

Though ostensibly designed to train children to become good citizens, schools become training grounds for resentment.

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