The three scholarly articles on the relationship between educational institutions and students are very insightful. The centre of their attention is the influence of student’s economic class on the quality and content of education received. But more importantly, class continues to influence and determine the quality and nature of an individual’s life beyond and after schooling years. In other words, the three authors posit in three different ways that economic class that an American is born into predetermines their course of life. The rest of this essay will flesh out this thesis.
The essay titled The Educated Global Citizen or Student Global Consumer? raises several important questions about the culture of education that has come to be accepted. Far from the ideal notions of education that the founding fathers of the nation envisioned, what we have today is the corporate takeover of schools and academies. The concept of advertising and sponsored programs have become so entrenched in the system that they no longer elicit a response of shock. Parents and educators have become desensitized to instructional video programs that contain embedded advertisements. The legitimacy of the classroom, with the authoritative figure of the teacher overseeing the program, students come to believe the content of the advertisement as truth. They are prone to believe that what they learn about science, mathematics and literature is on par with the content of the advertisement that is presented to them. Even common spaces within the premises of a school – such as a canteen – are not spared the blight of intrusive commercialization. For example, most school and college administrations have a deal with either Coca-Cola or Pepsi to be the official soft-drink provider within the campus. The same applies to the presence of McDonalds, StarBucks, Subway, etc in school canteens. Brand monopolies are thus allowed to exist in what is supposed to be a place for enlightenment. What business corporations are trying to achieve is to indoctrinate young minds into accepting certain brand loyalties. ‘If you catch them young they stay with you forever’ seems to be the motto of the major brands. While business interests profit and secure themselves of a young, loyal consumer base, the social consequences are disastrous. Instead of illuminating and stimulating young impressionable minds for creative thought and experimentation, our schools have turned into assembly lines for producing the next generation of passive obedient consumers. Hence, I totally agree with the views presented in Benjamin Barber’s essay.