Linguist Gives Students Lesson in Free Thinking

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), May 17, 2008 | Go to article overview

Linguist Gives Students Lesson in Free Thinking


Byline: Emily Krone

ekrone@@dailyherald.com

In a second-floor classroom at a Carpentersville high school, one of America's most renowned free-thinkers warned about 40 assembled students that the American public school system conspires to blunt their creativity and engender their obedience.

Via speakerphone from his office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, linguistics professor Noam Chomsky told Dundee-Crown High School students that a two-tiered educational system exists: While the elite attend schools that promote critical, independent thought, the masses attend schools that train students to pass tests and follow orders.

The system evolved after the Industrial Revolution, Chomsky said, when the ruling elite recognized the need to transform independent artisans and farmers into pliant factory workers.

Today as then, Chomsky said, the imperative is the production of a docile work force that will perpetuate the status quo.

Many public schools teach students that "the highest aspiration is to be a nurse or a policeman," Chomsky said. "It's indoctrination: That's my place in life. That's the way the school system works."

But Chomsky's claim that schools don't promote critical thought was undermined by the willingness of Community Unit District 300 officials to facilitate a dialogue with the radical provocateur for the second time this school year.

Chomsky agreed to chat regularly with Dundee-Crown students after Bruce Taylor, a social science teacher at the high school, last year crashed his Boston office and engaged him in a conversation. …

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