Monday, February 17, 2014

Zombies

In this video, Dr. Zubin Damania talks about the disenchantment he felt as a physician.  With aspirations of helping others, connecting deeply with others, and feeling mutually actualized through medical practice Dr. Damania entered the profession.  Then he learned of the pace, the lack of interpersonal connections with patients, the constant frustration of being overwhelmed, and the demand for "volume" (thus, revenue).  He learned that the elements of homogenization and commoditization of service were/are the underlying drivers in healthcare provision.

Interestingly, I have heard my own physician, Dr. Ben Edwards, speak of similar frustrations while he conducted his practice in the traditional ways.  While both physicians have chosen less traditional paths by which to serve the healthcare needs of their patients, they allude to a dynamic that is not specific to healthcare.

 Joel Salatin is widely known (and published) for his unconventional approach to farming and ranching.  The similarity he shares with Drs. Damania and Edwards is that he has chosen and advocates a move away from homogenization and commoditization.  

I make an interesting connection between the choices made by these three professionals to resist  becoming zombies in their chosen vocations.  I use the word "zombies" in the sense that is saliently portrayed by Aldous Huxley in Brave New World (1932), Suzanne Collins in The Hunger Games (2008), and the movie WALL-E (2008).  In their respective ways each of these works portrays a human existence that is subservient to higher powers (whether in the form of governmental hubris or excessive greed) that seek to de-individual human beings and to dishonor diversity (in all its forms).  The effects are deleterious.  

I have seen an evolution in public education similar to that described in the paragraphs above.  Efforts to homogenize our children's learning (regardless of their interests or those of their respective communities/cultures) and to commoditize education (i.e., reducing it to an assembly line environment that produces clone-like results - zombies).

Like Dr. Damania, Dr. Edwards, and Mr. Salatin, I have made the conscious decision to no longer be a zombie, and with respect to my profession of being an educator, to no longer being hell-bent on producing zombies.  

Respect for individuality, the honoring of differences, the power of relationships, the sustainability of holistic education, the sacredness of interdependence and independence represent the kind of life and work I choose for myself, for my children, for my grandchildren, and for all the other learners I yet serve as an educator. 

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