School Museum

When men die, they enter into history. When statues die, they enter into art. This botany of death is what we call Culture. That’s because the society of statues is mortal. One day, their faces of stone crumble and fall to earth. A civilization leaves behind itself these mutilated traces like the pebbles dropped by Tom Thumb. But history has devoured everything. An object dies when the living glance trained upon it disappears. And when we disappear, our objects will be confined to the place where we send “black” things: the Museum.
[from a 1953 film “Les Statues Meurent Aussi” (Statues Also Die) by A. Renais & C. Marker: A nice film on the repression of African (“Black”) Art and the necessity for it to be realized, recognized and its earthy-sacred-magical-irrational elements to be “brought back to life” in today’s superficial- “cosmopolitan” society]…
a beautiful expression of the impotence and futility of the current education system…. preparing students to fit in to a machine age — while expecting them to appreciate dead (museum) art…

Not surprising. This article ( In an age of robots, schools are teaching our children to be redundant) by  claims that: “Our schools were designed to produce the workforce required by 19th-century factories.” However, today, a “regime of cramming and testing is crushing young people’s instinct to learn and destroying their future.” In addition, he claims that as teachers are leaving the workforce in droves: “A major recruitment crisis beckons, especially in crucial subjects such as physics and design and technology.” Such subjects, he says, are necessary “to equip children for the likely demands of the 21st century.” Interesting that he says nothing about art, music, philosophy(1) and play, no?(2)

What’s also interesting is that Monbiot asserts that “All teaching is social engineering.” Which is ok with him, as long as humans are programmed to go along with the plan – the design… put forth by… well, he doesn’t really say. But we (readers of The Guardian) are evidently supposed to believe that “we” (readers of the Guardian?) can “engineer our children out of the factory and into the real world” (my emphasis). Hmmm. If one didn’t know better one might assume that Monbiot advocates treating children as robots.

But alas,  no! “When they are allowed to apply their natural creativity and curiosity, children love learning. They learn to walk, to talk, to eat and to play spontaneously, by watching and experimenting.” Very nice, but how, one might ask, do schools come in here? Well, there “is no single system for teaching children well, but the best ones have this in common: they open up rich worlds that children can explore in their own ways, developing their interests with help rather than indoctrination” (my emphasis).

Monbiot then gives a list of schools that supposedly do this – prepare students to fit in to the system by “helping” them – not indoctrinating them. Yes, “we” need to “help” kids “develop their interests” – as long as they go along with the plan.  In other words, Monbiot wants more of what we see in the photo above – students occupied with modern technology –  and physics, of course.

Rembrandt? Wasn’t he on a pack of cigs?



  1. Aesthetics is originally a branch of Philosophy. As such, to stimulate interest and intellectual stimulation – along with aesthetic appreciation and analysis, perhaps, one could have approached the painting “Nightwatch” with excerpts from these two films – as a group presentation… to understand the possibilities of what one can do with “art” today

    Meanwhile, students can also come to an understanding of how “social engineering” takes place in “education” (by discussing Monbiot’s article and the above photograph).

    Rembrandt’s J’Accuse” (2008)
    — “[The director] Greenaway leads us through Rembrandt’s paintings into seventeenth-century Amsterdam. He paints a world that is democratic in principle, but is almost entirely ruled by twelve families. The notion exists of these regents as charitable and compassionate entities. However, reality was different.”
    — including a discussion of Émile Zola’s J’Accuse


    — whereby Rembrandt identifies a murderer in the painting and the intrigue, drama and controversy surrounding this.

  2. Immanuel Kant spoke of the necessity of Art and Science going together. Art is everything we do; science is everything we know. But there are different “levels” of doing and knowing – the “lowest” level being what we know or do from a close-minded, egoistic, individualistic perspective, the “highest” level being what is most universalizeable, i.e., what all men would [ought to] do, or know, in a similar situation, in time. The lowest level of Art corresponds to the banal, unfulfilling “stuff” we (re)produce in labor, whereas the lowest echelon of science Kant would generally refer to as “stupidity” or “laziness” – relying on others to tell us what is true-false, right-wrong, i.e., riding on, what he refers to as, the “go-cart” of judgment. In other words, the highest goal – in order to realize who we are — our highest Nature — is to think (and act) according to laws that one gives oneself (“Sapere Aude”).

    Deeply intertwined with this goal-ideal is a differentiation between reproductive and productive imagination. It follows that reproductive imagination is merely analytically reproducing what has been “given” to us (in education or whatever). Productive imagination is obvious in Art and Science in the universal Aesthetic and Theoretical presentations of the “Masters” which lead all of mankind forward. The great Scientists utilize productive imagination to translate the transcendent Universe into temporal understanding via schema (schematic interpretations); however, the greatest Art (Fine Art) inspires us via genius – an atunement to Universal Spirit – from those who combine Science with Art.

    One should note, Kant claims that it is the Fine Artist which most leads mankind to realize our Universal goal: the Highest Good, whereby Science tends to bore us. However, the Highest Good in the World can only be realized when Art (what we do) and Science (what we know) come together and become One – that is to say, when we all begin to utilize-realize our potential via productive imagination (i.e., when we consciously create reality (self, society and world) for ourselves). This is the goal of The Virtue School…

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