1980s >> 1981 >> no-923-july-1981

Message for school leavers

What do you feel about the school year which is just ending? “Stand up . . . Sit down. . . Do up your tie . . . Don’t run in the corridors . . . “. Did you find it daft to traipse into School Assembly to sing hymns to the skies and then file out into a history lesson to be told about how superstitious they were in the Middle Ages? Were you bored by having to learn the French for ‘My house is small’ and ‘My pockets are empty’?

It is while you are at school that you are supposed to learn how to behave when you ‘grow up’. You are being prepared for a certain lifestyle which awaits you when you leave. If you can get a job when you leave school, your boss will want you to be obedient to him. He will expect you not to challenge what he says. At school they will try and teach you to obey a whole set of rules and not to dare question why the rules were made. They want to get you in the habit of obedience so that you will not be likely to start asking awkward questions later on in life.

At school you must wear the correct uniform, the same as all of the other pupils. In this way you are conditioned to see yourself as someone who is no different from all the other pupils. Together, you are just one large unit of people, you must look the same, behave the same and have the same general ideas as everyone else. They are trying to mould you into just another brick in the wall.

Outside of school the usual punishment for people who break the law is deprivation of liberty. You are put in prison. If you have no spare money but take food from a shop anyway, because you are hungry, you can be locked in a cell like an animal. Schools try to train us to accept the idea of being deprived of liberty for breaking rules, by punishing rule-breakers with ‘detentions’.

Almost the whole of school life is spent being made to do things you don’t really want to do. Eventually, if you are not strong-willed enough to resist, the process will grind you down. Then you will have been well prepared to spend the rest of your days swimming with the tide, and accepting all sorts of problems without any stroppy opposition, because — like the teachers say — “that’s just the way things are”.

At a first glance there are certain aspects of life which seem absurd or terrible, but which most people never make a fuss about. In order that these strange things can carry on without coming under attack, people have to be taught to look at the problems in a very distorted way, and most of the teaching is done in schools.

From time to time wars break out and we arc told we must go and slaughter millions of The Enemy, the French, the Germans, the Russians, whoever they happen to be. If Britain declared war on Russia tomorrow it would not be because British people had fallen out with Russian people. We do not know Russian people, most of us can’t even speak their language. In fact, wars are really fought over the arguments of a few wealthy and powerful people, but it us who have to bear the brunt of all the killing and destruction. Yet, most people are leaving school believing that in the event of a war it would be right to go and murder the enemy of ‘Britain’.

Again, we are living in a world where a small minority are able to enjoy great wealth while the majority of us are generally hard up. It is obvious that we could produce enough for everyone to have what he or she wants, but we are told we only get what we deserve. How did the very wealthy people get what they’ve got? If you start asking questions like this in school you will probably be sneered at as a “communist” and if you persist in asking unsuitable questions you may be branded a “disruptive element”.

This may have been your last year at school and finding someone to buy your abilities for a wage or salary might not be easy, as there are over 2½ million people looking for jobs. Thatcher can’t solve the unemployment problem, she doesn’t even seem particularly bothered. But neither could a Labour government. In fact, the last Labour government was thrown out of office in 1979 after the number of unemployed had risen to over 1½ million while it had power. The problem is that so long as we all agree to run Industry for a profit, then no boss will want to employ us in a time of ‘economic crisis’ if he can’t actually sell his goods to make a profit.

If the school has done its job properly you will ditch your uniform when you leave only to clothe yourself with another uniform: the invisible uniform of the School of Social Conformity. This uniform is handy because it can be worn quite comfortably over even the most bizarre of the latest rebel fashions, and will slip nicely over political badges like ‘I Didn’t Vote Tory’ and ‘Save the Whale’. The School of Social Conformity has many mottos including “Rich and Poor, Forward Together”, “Let’s Follow Leaders” and “Rely on Reforms”.

If you have refused to swallow the teachings of the school you may decide to simply disobey some of the present laws but this is not a solution to the problems you face and you run the risk of ending up behind bars. On the other hand you may decide, as Socialists have done, that the only way for us to get a society fit to live in, is to get a majority to change the whole set-up. You might be going back to school next September to be put on the anvil once again for the hammer to try and knock you into the right shape. How much you resist is up to you, and remember, they cannot stop you from thinking questioningly about anything they teach you. If you have got awkward questions, they cannot stop you finding out the answers for yourself.

Gary Jay