The Wizard of Watchmen on Education

I am a huge Alan Moore fan and have read just about everything he has written. It makes me a little reluctant to see Watchmen because Moore disowns the cinematic versions of his books, especially Watchmen. He finds modern films to be “bullying” and designed to “spoon feed” audiences. (However, I’ll admit to being curious enough to see the movie, but only after reading the book for a third time)

Therefore it’s not such a surprise to read about Moore’s opinion of education in a recent Salon interview.

None of my education really comes from school. The only place where I was finding any information that really intrigued me was through my contact with what we then referred to as the counterculture. That entire hippie psychedelic scene that existed then which was producing incredible music, incredible culture, incredible writings and the whole impetus was to expand your mind, as they said. So I found that once I’d been expelled from school, I was compelled to educate myself and I found this a very entertaining and easy process. In the course of a few decades of living, I found that I’d absorbed far more information than I would’ve done if I’d been in an academic institution.

All too often education actually acts as a form of aversion therapy, that what we’re really teaching our children is to associate learning with work and to associate work with drudgery so that the remainder of their lives they will possibly never go near a book because they associate books with learning, learning with work and work with drudgery. Whereas after a hard day’s toil, instead of relaxing with a book they’ll be much more likely to sit down in front of an undemanding soap opera because this is obviously teaching them nothing, so it is not learning, so it is not work, it is not drudgery, so it must be pleasure. And I think that that is the kind of circuitry that we tend to have imprinted on us because of the education process.

And Moore takes his role seriously in combating the “imprint” of education:

It seems to me to be a responsibility of culture to become as informative as possible and give people a source of information in a form they will be drawn to. Just as the education system can equate learning with work and work with drudgery and program people against the idea of learning, I can … well, everybody knows that comics are entertainment. If you can present something that’s colorful, that’s entertaining, that looks like the kind of thing that people would seek out for enjoyment, then you are much more likely to get people to respond to it. I’m sure there are lots of people out there who although they couldn’t actually give you a clear idea of their country’s history over the past couple of hundred years, but they probably could give you a detailed description of the continuities of whatever comic book or television show they are most obsessed with. We have an enormous capacity for absorbing all of this trivia, so if you can spike the entertainment with genuine information — whether that be moral information or historical information, magical information — then it actually stands a chance of being absorbed by the public.

Any lessons here for educators? Just a few …

Recent Links 03/06/2009

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