“The function of education has never been to free the mind and the spirit of man, but to bind them…acquiescence, not originality. …Schools are the central conserving force of the culture. … In order not to fail, most people are willing to believe anything and to care not whether what they are told is true or false.  Only by remaining absurd can one feel free from fear of failure.” – Jules Henry, cultural anthropologist, in ‘Culture Against Man’

….. We must never forget we have a choice …. (far side)

“It is Henry’s contention that in practice education has never been an instrument to free the mind and the spirit of man, but to bind them. … Children do not give up their innate imagination, curiousity, dreaminess easily. You have to love them to get them to do that. Love is the path through permissiveness to discipline; and through discipline, only too often, to betrayal of self.” – R. D. Laing, psychiatrist and philosopher

I live in a double bind.  It can be depressing.  It is the culture vs authenticity double bind explored by R. D. Laing which arises when you see the world differently from your culture-supporting family and friends but to be too overt about what you are thinking/feeling would be a downer because it ‘undermines’ many of the popular upbeat beliefs and social structures of our times.


But to say nothing would be to betray oneself, and to betray one’s culture/society as well, as it continues to believe in and employ over-simplistic rational/scientific assumptions so that well-intended actions end up having us ‘shoot ourselves in the foot’.  On the other hand, to overtly critique ‘common thinking and common practice’ that may not only be ‘accepted thinking and practice’, but ‘thinking and practice’ deemed meritorious, which is rewarded and respected in our society and is encouraged in our children through our educational processes, can invite ‘backlash’ wherein others close to us, equally (but inversely) convinced, of the positive value of the ‘accepted thinking and practice’ which we are critiquing, may identify us as a misinformed ‘trouble-maker’. (more…)