Monday, May 2, 2011

Can You Fly, Bobby?

Last Saturday night was movie night at my house. My 9 year old son had three friends over and we decided, actually I decided, to watch Robocop. I believe the younger generation should be exposed to the classics.

For those that don't know the movie, the story takes place in 1998 (the movie was released in 1987) in Detroit. Crime is rampant, the police department is run by a private company, Omni Consumer Products (OCP) and it's second in command, Richard "Dick" Jones (ably played by Ronny Cox) is in cahoots with the leader of the largest criminal gang in Detroit. Sound familiar yet?

Hang on. It'll come to you. OK, yeah, I saw it to. The allegory between Robocop and the DOE. I shall explain. But actually really two instances in the movie really had me raise my eyebrow in a Mr Spock sort of manner.

Officer Alex Murphy is transferred to the worst precinct in Detroit. He has no idea why. But if you look back to he beginning of the movie, after Bob Morton gets approved to do build his Robocop, Morton, when asked how it will be built, says, "when we get some volunteers."

Volunteers? What did he mean by that? Only before when Murphy is used for target practice do we know. Morton admits to some colleagues that several officers have been strategically transferred to certain high crime precincts, presumably knowing that these officers will have a greater chance of being killed in action and thus becoming the brain, the human part of Robocop.

How does this relate to the DOE? Or what is happening in education? Simple. The corporatist mentality the is now pervasive to education is just about the same as what what on in Robocop?

The corporatist ideal of a teacher, a Roboteacher. A teacher that can be programmed, a teacher that can't and won't think independently, a teacher that will work ungodly hours, a teacher without family, a teacher that will not violate Directive #4!

How is this done? The same way Bob Morton planned. Sacrifice the veteran teachers. Put them in lose-lose situations. These teachers, the corporatists believe, are replaceable, interchangeable, are a threat to their corporate greed. Once they are gone, it's as if they never existed.

OCP, just like the DOE, and the corporatists care only about the bottom line. How to cut costs at the expense of the employees, and ultimately the citizens their employees serve.

But Murphy/Robocop had one redeeming value OCP couldn't control. He was still part human, and when push came to shove he sided with what is right. For himself, for his police brothers and sisters, and for the citizens of Detroit.

And this ultimately is what will save us, save the children, and save the profession. That we will push back, we will rise up against corporate thought and be Murphy, not a machine.


Anonymous said...

It is not just the older teachers who are being set up, younger teachers too.

bookworm said...

Anyone who looks like they may make teaching a career, either by making it past the fifth year mark or by getting degrees in education and passing certification exams instead of going through one of those "revolving door" temp mills, is in danger of being set up to fail eventually.