This is an unfinished thought; I actually edited most of this out… but it contains some ideas I didn’t want to lose, even if it’s not cohesive…
Beautifully written my friend. I’d like to frame your last paragraph, particularly, in gold. Allow me to tell you a story and then link it back.
In education, I’ve always been a fan of John Dewey; a true radical whose ideas shaped Education from the 1890s through 1940. His ideas shaped many other parts of public policy but my interest is his influence on Education.
I first read of him when I was a young teenager; after tripping over John Holt and “Unschooling” / “Why Johnny Can’t Read” and first learned about alternative education; it’s what prompted me to work very hard at getting a scholarship to a private high school, which succeeded and I did. I entered private school in 9th Grade, very proud of myself. My mother thought I did it because of a bully but no, it’s because school sucked and I knew it and learned WHY it sucked on my own, and I knew there were alternatives.
While I couldn’t get to Summerhill, at least there was something for me that was better.
So, long story longer, 13 year old Ken got out. Yet, something haunted me.
I mentioned it in another post and won’t repeat much of it: Poor Comprehension in Elementary school. ACT/PSAT/SAT’s with 99.999% and 60% in this “Reading Comprehension” thing. Ok, I can’t be perfect in everything and really, I didn’t care about the grades or numbers except: *why was this one so low?* It was strange that it was so … different. Was I?
Just yesterday, figured out what it was, made a quick study of it and it was Inferring Author’s Intent. I knew I hated those questions and figured I had a disability in that area – and perhaps I do. But the difference all these years have made is this, which you put into words *so beautifully* with regards to economies:
*adapts, learns, and decides on some rule of order — a culture is formed, and the behaviors are either sanctioned or punished depending on the mutual consent of all interested and empowered parties. Over time this results in a codified process, and some trusted agency of protective and managerial specialization. Those who refuse to play by the socially acceptable rules, are expected to refrain from playing… or are somehow shunned, repudiated, or penalized for known repeat offences.*
*BINGO*. Those words, different context. What is the author’s intent? Given 5 choices, which is “most likely”? Well, I was always a creative thinker. I could imagine scenerios where one could be more valid than another. I knew what they *wanted* me to say. I just didn’t care. It seemed stupid to me. But, there was the shunning, the penalties… I didn’t care, for to me, the *world of author intent – their very _mind_* is pure freedom, pure anarchy, the place of dreams and imagination. Their writings should *speak for themselves* and the *reader* – ahhh. the reader, should have the _anarchistic freedom_ to decide.
To me, the relationship between author and reader is pure. Free. Imagination to imagination.
*BUT* – as you’ve said, a culture formed.
Flash back to John Dewey: Radical, Progressive. Education is centered around a child’s needs with teacher as helper in the process of creating a creature capable of free thought.
Marvelous! Wonderful! Progressives like John Holt and the creator of Summerhill inspired me when I was a 13 year old boy at the anarchistic freedom of a *true education*. It was theoretically *possible*! I did what I could to actualize it; and reading simplified summaries of John Dewey made it stronger; I took action and it worked for me.
But… there was this nagging thought; What happened? Why did his ideas get relegated to little private schools like the one I found? Why did they not flourish and grow, take wings and fly?
And there it is: You said it. A generation comes along that says, “We must codify freedom”.
And so it did.
Flash forward 40 years to my education. By this time, many shifts in education had happened since Dewey’s idealism fell out of favor.
“What do our cultural expectations wish for you to infer about the intentions of this author that is not present in the text as written by the author?”
Even in 4th/5th Grade, I saw the BS in it, even though I didn’t have the words to express it like that. To me, I got the same feeling I got when I started noticing the BS in TV Commercials; I got a very STRONG SENSE when someone was trying to _lead me_ to believe a certain way.
But my beliefs were mine. And I believe that another’s beliefs (such as an authors) belongs to them. For a teacher or a test to say, “This is what you should think the author was thinking” seemed wrong then and still does.