Why don’t we change everything?

In the short introduction section into the Health Theatre reading by Dwight Conquerwood provides an interesting paradox that reflects on both the readings and our discussion in class about the education system in the United States and issues of its current role and status.  According to Conquerwood, the paradox of traditional performance’s historical role is “to conserve a culture over time, not to change it.”  This makes complete sense within the narrow view of traditional performance, cultural studies, or human anthropology.  However, within the context of social justice and studies of modern globalization, this notion of traditional performance is quite shallow.  I believe that this same ideology can be applied to our assumptions of education and its role in society.  Why can we not have a complete radical notion and approach to both education and performance?  This paradox introduced by Conquerwood is clearly evident in current educational systems today, such as unchanged curriculum, teaching styles, or unfair/exploitative policies .  I would not necessarily say that the guerrilla theater performances of Greenpeace is radical, but it’s approach in awareness, action, and information is radical enough to get its boat blown up and its members arrested.  During our discussion of education in class, I kept thinking about Rousseau’s notion of humanity and society.  We are born free but we are chained through societal restrictions such as menial values or roles.  He believed that children should be educated with a free mindset that is outside of the school setting, such as punishments, standards. and the classroom itself.  Rousseau is not concerned so much with brainwashing children with information and concepts, but is focused on developing character, morals, independence, and creativity through experiences and consequences of their own actions; not through the school and its employers and supporters.  This ties into the quote by Conquerwood because we should question how much we value government and social standards on education and our definition of education itself.  Yes, we do have those standards and pressures imposed on us from all directions, but can we not take a step back and realize how much bs we consume by either not being aware of the state of education or by simply accepting the fact that we can make conversations about its state but we ultimately cannot change it because tax dollars are involved.  By acknowledging the paradox but not willing to take action because of the fear of others’ judgement or fear of the system itself is an ideal plaguing the humanization process in many societies but is also an ideal represented in the Greenpeace reading.  “The function of art in our culture drifts steadily toward becoming investment commodity and entertainment, it might be worth the art world’s time to expand its narrow definitions to include activities that have a function more in keeping with traditional art values-creating images that have an impact on people’s lives.”  If education’s traditional purpose is to create reasonable, independent, moral, and creative people, why are we stuck in its current movement towards making compliant, subordinate, and endlessly consuming individuals?

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