School used to be a noun: a pedagogical dystopian vision


Walmart module 83n#z9: the history of learning
[Leisure Unit. Return on Investment -0.9]

The word school used to be a noun and not just a verb.

The closest word we have today that could conceivably be termed a synonym for school is the word ‘cashpoint’. Long before we accessed learning via cashpoints, children used to attend schools, large buildings where learning was organized as subjects and delivered in units called lessons.

These schools were staffed by teachers, an organic equivalent of the Walmart avatars that provide the voiceovers for learning modules in our cashpoints. There are remnants of the word teacher in our College of Teaching, the guild which advises Walmart on the proper knowledge and skills to include in their learning modules.

In the past, these schools taught subjects rather than the modules we have today. So, for example, one might study geography (a kind of science of place) rather than learning how to extract gas from human bones (Walmart module 34c#a1: Biofracking).

The measure of success in these schools were levels of literacy and numeracy. These levels were collated and reported in a league table called PISA, named after a tower in Italy that has long since collapsed. The PISA tables still exist today. Although they were bought by Standard & Poor’s, asset-stripped and sold on to a unit trust in Belize. They are now used to ensure competitiveness in the pasta sauce industry.

A school place was funded by a public body called the state. This state collected money from the working population, using it to fund schools and provide the necessary human resource to deliver each subject. The state might be understood as an equivalent to our investment trusts. In the same way that the investment trusts back individual students with funds based on potential returns, this state body would fund students. The crucial difference being that the state would invest regardless of potential return on investment: a kind of agnostic economy based on a nebulous and unquantifiable “good society”. (We will return to the word society later: it is beyond the scope of this article to explain it in sufficient detail.)

That is the end of the unit. There follows a multiple choice test on the above. This unit has been brought to you by Nestlé, pioneers of the quadruple-yolked egg.

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