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Forum Post: Teaching the Occupation

Posted 2 years ago on Oct. 9, 2011, 4:52 p.m. EST by mattfriedman (5)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

I am a history lecturer at Rutgers University (Newark). As it turns out, I will be talking about the American Revolution in my classes this week, and I plan to spend quite a bit of time talking about OWS.

However, I would like to share notes, experiences and ideas with other educators (at all levels), so I have set up a Facebook group for that purpose here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/258680577502171/ . I have also set up a blog for more formal articles, comments, etc. called Occupation: Pedagogy here https://occupationpedagogy.wordpress.com/.

If you are a teacher or professor, I'd like to hear from you.



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[-] 1 points by unended (294) 2 years ago

I think it would be a good idea to use the occupation's opposition to corporate constitutional rights to explain how that opposition is consistent with notions of popular sovereignty that animated the American revolution. When corporations are understood as extensions of government power (as they were at the time of the revolution), the idea that they could have constitutional rights would have been anathema and irreconcilable with the popular sovereignty the revolutionaries fought for. Indeed, they would have thought it outright counterrevolutionary, and, frankly, so should we.

[-] 1 points by captaindoody (339) from Elizabethville, PA 2 years ago

Someone should teach them about this new thing which is called a shower. There is another miracle invention called deodorant. Finally, another invention that just curls my toes its so cool is a comb.

[-] 1 points by mattfriedman (5) 2 years ago

I take it that you haven't actually BEEN to Zuccotti Park.

[-] 1 points by groobiecat2 (746) from Brattleboro, VT 2 years ago

He clearly hasn't, but the aptly named "captaindoody" really understands the priorities of of the movement and what's happening there. Ugh.

[-] 1 points by captaindoody (339) from Elizabethville, PA 2 years ago

Oh I've been there. I had to leave because it smelled like a fish market mixed with a big pot of chili and pizza.

[-] 1 points by partOfTheSolution7 (51) from Chapel Hill, NC 2 years ago

Thank you, professor. I would be very interested to hear about the history of the relationship between government and corporations

[-] 1 points by teddyr (159) from Bronx, NY 2 years ago

Please don't degrade the American Revolution to a bunch of snot nose people that want something for nothing. If I was taking your class I would walk out, unenroll and get my money back.

[-] 1 points by mattfriedman (5) 2 years ago

That would be your right. Having said that, there were a lot of snot-nosed people involved the American Revolution who, the British Parliament, Crown and the colonial elite believed, wanted something for nothing

[-] 1 points by teddyr (159) from Bronx, NY 2 years ago

There are always critics. Looks like the Founders did a pretty good job.

[-] 1 points by groobiecat2 (746) from Brattleboro, VT 2 years ago

Heh, bravo. Something tells me that if "teddyr" were in your class, he'd be struggling, what with all the contrarian facts that wouldn't be easily digested through his fog of cognitive dissonance.

[-] 1 points by anonymouschristianterrorist (88) 2 years ago
  1. Lock up all of the world bankers.

  2. Bring all of the production back to America.

  3. Stop all wars and bring them home.

Then we might have a chance at the American dream again.

[-] 1 points by mattthecapitalist (157) 2 years ago

I would be careful around here Professor... everyone is pretty much pissed at everyone including instructors.

Apparently, people are paying too much money for degrees that are worthless... and are pissed when they aren't awarded a job because they are unqualified.

[-] 2 points by mattfriedman (5) 2 years ago

For what it's worth, I'm a graduate student, and I teach as an adjunct lecturer (no security, contract-to-contract, term-to-term) to put food on my table and pay my bills. As the slogan goes, I am the 99%.

[-] 1 points by mattthecapitalist (157) 2 years ago

It sounds like you picked the wrong field of study, one that provides little monetary worth. I hope you at least enjoy your job. But, I guess you expect that since you went to college you deserve a lot of money. That's a travesty. Welcome to real life

[-] 1 points by mattfriedman (5) 2 years ago

I worked in the media before I went to grad school. I'm not in it for the money, and I knew what I was getting into. I teach because I think teaching is important, and I think I'm good at it. Herman Cain would disagree with me, but I do think that there is more to life than getting rich.

[-] 1 points by mattthecapitalist (157) 2 years ago

Cain wouldn't disagree with you... if you have truly reached the point of what you define as happiness in economic terms, and you want nothing more.. that sounds like a fulfilling life to me. Cain would say that if your goal is to achieve riches... you have all the tools at your expense in this great country.

[-] 1 points by groobiecat2 (746) from Brattleboro, VT 2 years ago

Cain would also say this: ""I don't have the facts to back this up, but I happen to believe that these demonstrations are planned and orchestrated to distract from the failed policies of the Obama Administration." FAIL.

And btw, teachers do some of the most important jobs on the planet for little pay. "Real life" is what America decides it is, and prioritizes accordingly. In other countries, like, say, Finland, quality education is available for all. It's a decision we've made to make it truly accessible only to the wealthy, or to those who are willing to encumber themselves with debt.

Oh, and instead of, say, making education (or anything else worthwhile) available as a basic need or right, we as a country decided to "deficit spend" $1 trillion on a war in Iraq based on lies and subterfuge. And that, sadly, is real life as well: it's all about opportunity cost and policy choices. Here in the US? We continue to make increasingly bad ones...

[-] 1 points by mattthecapitalist (157) 2 years ago

Teachers, in fact, do have a very important job. Due to the low pay they receive... the career is not very appealing, and also results in the lower quality teachers.

I believe that the government should not have a hand in education... the government is highly inefficient. We should privatize education.

Anything of actual true worth, generally tends to be hard to obtain. That is why I have no problem with paying for college... I know that the debt I incur is minuscule when compared to the worth of what I am receiving.

Education is not a basic need or right. It is a commodity. You achieve that commodity through your ability and intellect. Entitlement destroys motivation. Knowing that you are paying for your education lights a fire of ambition.

[-] 1 points by groobiecat2 (746) from Brattleboro, VT 2 years ago

Well, wait, you really do ascribe incredible efficiencies to the marketplace, but the fact is, they 're both made up of people. Privatizing education--which should be as important as national defense--makes no sense. Then only people who could actually afford to pay could go to school. The system you advocate would create an even more skewed system of haves and have nots.

Education is a basic right. It's not a commodity, just because you say it is. Why? Because it's the most important resource any society can have. But really, the world you're advocating is much more Orwellian than I could imagine.

Capitalism is not a panacea. And, in fact, what you advocate is naked corporatization of our society. I'm open to discussing policy and political philosophy, but what you advocate should be always rejected as completely unacceptable by anyone in the #OWS. Corporations are terrible at managing basic human needs--unless, of course, one wants to define such needs as "commodities, available only to those who can "afford" them.

Ironically, the system you advocate is much closer to the world inhabited by the clergy of Henry the VIII, than it is by a system that has ensure that the "public" should be educated as a priority.

People who think corporations can solve all of our problems, probably never worked for them very extensively. They're just as inefficient as government. In fact, many in the government are actually private sector contractors.

Last thing: The system you advocate would remove parents from the democratic process of school boards and the systems that govern their children.

I honestly have no idea what you're doing on this board or why you'd be interested in this movement. Your plan is the diametric opposite of what #OWS wants, to wit: reducing the influence of corporations in policy processes.

Wow. Good luck trying to sell your radical craziness to this crowd.

[-] 1 points by groobiecat2 (746) from Brattleboro, VT 2 years ago

And this isn't the professor's fault. It's the university's fault--and, frankly, the fault of that laissez faire, government off our backs (and apparently, universities' backs) crowd.

Ultimately, it's about priorities. When the German government levied a one-time $500 fee on university students (barely enough for books here!) who mainly went to school for free, they rioted in the streets. It's about priorities. Our priority, as a country, is to aggrandize the few, make education affordable by only the elite, and indebt newly minted students. There currently aren't jobs because Wall Street wrecked the economy and now we're in our own "Japan decade" of economic ennui...


"Just as Wall Street helped spur the housing bubble with mortgage-backed securities, they've also spurred the student loan bubble with, as they're called, student loan asset-backed securities.

So, that Wall Street capital has encouraged really aggressive marketing by high-interest private loans to students, and now, student loan defaults jumped 26 percent last year. And just as foreclosed homes drag the economy and limit people's choices, so do private student loans -- which...you can't even get rid of by declaring bankruptcy."

(source: Marketplace: http://tinyurl.com/6fkvjtf)

FYI, MF, if you're looking for excellent commentators on this subject, one of the best out there is Sam Seder:


[-] 1 points by mattthecapitalist (157) 2 years ago

supply and demand apply to colleges... if people decided not to attend an overly expensive college, the school would have to lower prices. Business 101.

Attending overly expensive colleges, coupled with ridiculous degree choices- individuals have no one to blame but themselves.

[-] 1 points by groobiecat2 (746) from Brattleboro, VT 2 years ago

Wrong. It's a decision made by the society. Education is much less expensive in various countries in Europe. It has zero to do with free market capitalism, and everything to do with priorities. In the US, apparently, it's our priority to enable schools to charge more and more and more money for the same level of education. That shouldn't be allowed.

The free market isn't a panacea, and actually, you didn't address my points about loans.


[-] 1 points by mattthecapitalist (157) 2 years ago

no. Our priority in the US is to obtain a degree, and it is pushed by our teachers and family members. "You can't achieve anything without a degree!" I would go as far to say that there is a stigma attached to anyone who doesn't go to college.

Colleges are in high demand, and can essentially charge whatever they want... as no one really seems to question the high prices. Individuals willingly sign up for school loans, while they seemingly neglect to calculate the true worth of their major or degree.

It's our own fault that the prices of colleges have continually increased... it is our fault for accepting the terms of the loans. Did I address the points this time around? -Quote the points you want me to address,

[-] 1 points by groobiecat2 (746) from Brattleboro, VT 2 years ago

I agree that people are pushed to go into college--and yes, they can charge whatever they want. That's my point: that shouldn't be the case.

Well, "accepting the terms" of the loans--for people who want to go to college, there's not much choice, is there? I guess my point, specifically, is that we, as a society, think that's okay. It shouldn't be. A university education shouldn't be mandatory, but it should be available without having those who want one to have to consider bankruptcy after they graduate.

Again, it's a failure to think as a society's common interest, and to leave "market forces" to decide. This really is the result--as you've pointed out--of the marketplace deciding. It shouldn't be arbiter, and it's leaving people with insane debt loads. Some shouldnt' go to school, sure, but those who to should be able to.

As for the loans--yes, they're risky and unregulated and making wall street rich--see link in original response...