Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 10. 23rd May 1973
Managed to break in upstairs — tried to give this lady a leaflet — "look, you've got to read it, its good, its really good, please take it" — "Fuck off!" she said. Hubby tries to kick me in the cods.....
Wandered into the pisser the next day —hailed by an old mate — "Fuck, saw ya at capping last night — talk about laugh —shit-hot-trick — but why d'ya do it — why pick on capping — bit fuckin' mad if ya ask me mate".
Well, its like this....
When I was a little boy at primary school I wrote a story about a bright-red shiney tractor. Miss Jones gave me an elephant stamp on my wrist for being such a clever little boy. Later on she gave me two cups at prize-giving — one for being a good little boy and the other because I was dux of standard two.
This is to certify that Terence P. Williams
having completed a course of at least three years' post-primary education in accordance with the Education Regulations 1954, and having passed the School Certificate Examination has qualified for this certificate.
And when I was older still I received yet another piece of paper which said that Victoria University was pleased to bestow on me the degree of Bachelor of Arts. "You're a Success boy," said my wealthy uncle, "you've made the grade, you're set", It was generally acceptable that the boy who had written about the bright-red shiney tractor had finally got his oats.
- " the teachers teach and the students are taught
- the teacher knows everything and the students know nothing.
- the teacher thinks and the students are thought about.
- the teacher talks and the students listen-meekly.
- the teacher disciplines and the students are disciplined.
- the teacher chooses and enforces his choice, and the students comply.
- the teacher acts and the students have the illusion of acting through the action of the teacher.
- the teacher chooses the programme content, and the students (who were not consulted) adopt it.
- the teacher confuses the authority of knowledge with his own professional authority, which he sets in opposition to the freedom of students, the teacher is the subject of the learning process, while the pupils are mere objects."1
In other words, I had been "educated"? Education in New Zealand equals indoctrination and conditioning. I had been trained by the instilling within me of dead knowledge, knowledge divorced from its origins and application. I had been pacified by the compulsory requirement that I obey orders without question for fifteen years. Because knowledge always came from the teacher, I had a deeply-ingrained respect for authority. And because I had always worked for grades and certificates and ultimately A Degree I had been trained to work for money and status, and not to work out of interest and self-fulfilment.
And so I had learnt to be passive, accepting, conforming and that when I was so subservient I was to be rewarded.
This educative process reaches its symbolic zenith in the capping ceremony, an anacronistic ritual which ensures that the most subservient, the most conditioned, get the reward they have been working for throughout their university lives. It is the main spring of the "education" myth, and provides a "raison de etre" for the larger education system itself. This being so it was disrupted.
But this wasn't the only reason why I decided to disrupt capping, read on...
"School is orientated towards selecting the future bureaucrats and technocrats who will manage society in the interests of the capitalists, and who will reap a much more handsome reward for their efforts than the ordinary workers. It is these elites that benefit from depriving the oppressed of political power and the words necessary to understand their oppression."2
Question: Why do 50% of those who sit School Certificate pass?
Answer: So that the remaining 50% can be designated Failures.
Someone has to work the assembly lines, dig the drains, cut up the beef and make the roads....
- only 5% of all university students in this country come from semi-skilled and unskilled worker parentage.
- 91% of those graduated from university with doctorates, and 78% of those graduating with bachelor degress in 1970 were male.
- maori representation at universities in proportion to the total population is 1 in 1,541 whereas pakeha representation is 1 in 185.
University then (for what its worth) is the "preserve of the wealthy Pakeha male."3 And all these wealthy pakeha males toddled off to the Town Hall on the third day of May, 1973 to get patted on the back for being fortunate enough to be born into an upper class, wealthy white family!!!
Capping is a symbol of the university's role in a capitalist society — to discriminate. The university is by no means divorced from such a society: (it pays an integral part in its perpetuation. Besides being conditioned into a conformist, unquestioning pattern of behaviour, students are also indoctrinated to conform to the values of our society: self-interest, elitism, racism, sexism and knowledgism.
And that's why someone tried to kick me in the cods you see. It wasn't a personal thing — it was just that I was threatening his way of life and the life chosen by his "successful" son sitting meekly below with the other "graduates" — I was challenging the values upon which his life was based.
There's one good reason why the capping game won't take place next year...
The university is right now training you to forego the right to control your OWN destiny, it values the degree above the act of learning. And so it exploits and oppresses you. Only when you rebel against the indoctrination you are subjected to, only when you fight against the discriminations you are condoning, and only when you assert your own freedom and individuality, will your life become in any way meaningful. That is why ELF is catching on — next year thousands of little elves will ascend upon the Town Hall and prevent capping from taking place. Do it.
1 The banking theory of education; see 'Pedagogy of the Oppressed', Paulo Freire.
2 From The Liberal School', Graeme Clark. PPTA Journal, March/April, 1973, p 28
3 See "University, 'The Presence of the Wealthy Pakeha Male', David Cuthbert Published in Clamant, Vol 1, Nol, April.