Critical Education Articles Placed in the Teacher Staff Lounge While I Was a Teacher, Part Eighteen: The Hidden Curriculum of Learning to Develop a Positive Attitude Towards Being Exploited and Oppressed

This is a continuation of a series of posts on summaries of articles, mainly on education.

When I was a French teacher at Ashern Central School, in Ashern, Manitoba, Canada, I started to place critiques, mainly (although not entirely) of the current school system. At first, I merely printed off the articles, but then I started to provide a summary of the article along with the article. I placed the summaries along with the articles in a binder (and, eventually, binders), and I placed the binder in the staff lounge.

As chair of the Equity and Justice Committee for Lakeshore Teachers’ Association of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society (MTS), I also sent the articles and summary to the Ning of the MTS (a ning is “an online platform for people and organizations to create custom social networks”).

As I pointed out in a previous post, it is necessary for the radical left to use every opportunity to question the legitimacy of existing institutions.

The context of the following, if I remember correctly, was the March 8-10 Winnipeg (Manitoba, Canada) Women’s Symposium, entitled Living as an Ally: Individually and Collectively, where Dr. Kryzanowski presented the following on March 9, 2012 (from a brochure of the Conference):

Impacts of Poverty on Marginalized Groups: What Teachers Need to Know!
Dr. Julie Kryzanowski, Saskatoon Regional Health Authority

The significant and troubling health disparities between low-income neighbourhoods and the rest of the city in Saskatoon were a catalyst for action in Saskatoon Health Region. With local health and education partners, the Health Region pursued a program of research to explore the extent of students’ health disparities and address them with evidence-based interventions. Dr. Julie Kryzanowski tells their story and relates how events and experiences in childhood influence health outcomes across the life course –and explains what teachers need to know to make a difference.

I wrote the following for the Ning, and sent it to the executive of Lakeshore Teachers’ Association:

Dr. Kryzanowski, in her presentation to the Women’s Issues Symposium, focused in many ways on child poverty—something which constantly needs to be stressed. However, as part of her presentation, she refers to some things that teachers can do, including increasing “access to early childhood education and postsecondary education for all.”

Although I have argued in another post that child poverty should be a major focus for teachers in general and for those interested in equity and social justice in particular, I have also argued on several occasions that the present school system is hardly an adequate basis or standard for children and adolescents.

Dr. Kyrzanowski does not criticize the current school system but presupposes it.

Rather than reiterating what I have already posted, I will look at the situation from a slightly different angle by summarizing an article by Samule Bowles and Herbert Gintis, “Schools in Capitalist America Revisited.”

This article is itself a reference to the book by Bowles and Gintis, published in 1976, Schooling in Capitalist America. In that book, they argued that there was a correspondence principle between capitalist work practices and the practices that existed in schools.  Social interactions and the reward structure in the capitalist-worker relation are replicated in the social interactions and reward structure of schools.

They update their analysis in this article with econometric analysis (the use of regression equations in particular. Regression equations are formulated by using descriptive statistics to create, for instance, “best fit” equations that can then be used for prediction—inferential statistics).

A thesis of the article is that there is strong correlation between the economic status of one’s parents and one’s own economic status. Since the economic structure is characterized by inequality, schools generally function to reproduce that inequality. Thus, if you know the economic status of a child’s or adolescent’s parents, then you can use that knowledge to predict, fairly accurately, her/his success on the market for workers.

One study shows that a son born into the top decile has a 22 percent chance of attaining that decile whereas a son born in the bottom decile has a 1 percent chance. Furthermore, a son born in the bottom decile has a 19 percent chance of remaining in that decile; a son born in the top decile has no chance of moving to the lowest decile.

Bowles and Gintis do not deny that IQ, as an inheritable trait, has some impact on the probability of success in the market for workers. However, they find that, if IQ were the only determinant of success, then the probability that sons of the richest decile would attain the highest decile of income would only exceed the probability that sons of the poorest decile would attain the highest decile of income would only be 12 percent greater—whereas the statistics show a probability of 16-44 times .

The authors also call into question the view that schools primarily develop cognitive skills that are correlated highly with success in the market for workers. In a survey of 3,000 employers, it was found that the most important reason for hiring was attitude, followed by, in order, communication skills, industry-based skill credentials, years of schooling and academic performance.

In another survey, of those companies that reported a skill shortage, 43 percent indicated that there was a shortage of technical skills—but 62 percent indicated a shortage of employees who had a poor attitude, lacked appropriate personality characteristics and lacked motivation.

A third survey compares the earnings of high-school dropouts who obtained GED qualifications with those without the GED qualification. Despite GED holders generally having higher cognitive skills than high-school dropouts, the GED holders earned only slightly above high-school dropouts. Those who performed the survey hypothesized that the reason for little gains in earning power for GED holders is that the holders send mixed signals to employers; they have the cognitive ability but lack motivation to persevere.  Bowles and Gintis also point out that the conclusions from this survey indicate that “seat work,” or mere attendance, is more important for employers than the curriculum or learning per se. Employers probably tend to treat technical skills with the “wrong attitude” to be more trouble than they are worth to the employers. Socialization at school for subordination of workers’ wills and personalities to employers’ dictates constitutes part of the “hidden curriculum” in schools.

Bowles and Gintis argue that a test for determining whether cognitive skills are that important when compared to such variables as the “hidden curriculum” of socialized subordination to the dictates of employers is a variation in school years attended when cognitive skill is held constant. By comparing a regression equation in which cognitive skill is included and a regression equation in which it is excluded, the ratio of earning differences can be calculated, with variations in schooling with and without changes in cognitive skills. The authors found that variables other than cognitive skills (such as years of schooling and socio-economic status) explained a considerable level of variations in earnings, with cognitive skills accounting for much less of the variation.  Considerable variations in schooling correlated quite highly with years of schooling; substantial cognitive skills did not account for much of the variations in earnings.

On the other hand, personality traits, such as integrity, conscientiousness, industriousness, perseverance and leadership, have a substantial impact on wages and salaries. Curiously, such personality traits have a larger impact than family background.

Other behavioural traits having to do with motivation, such as the degree of trust and belief that a person’s efforts make a substantial difference, have a greater impact on wages and salaries than do cognitive skills.

Bowles and Gintis did find that the interaction of occupational status, gender and behavioural traits did affect wages and salaries. Thus, women in high-status occupations who were considered aggressive experienced a decrease in wages or salaries whereas men who were considered aggressive experienced a substantial increase in wages or salaries. On the other hand, women in low-status occupations who were not considered aggressive experienced a decrease in wages or salaries.

The authors argue, in general, that personality traits rewarded in schools correspond to those traits rewarded at work for an employer (and not simply work—to identify work with work for an employer is to treat capitalist relations at work to be characteristic of all of human relations throughout history). They do recognize, though, that the situation is more complicated than they had presented it in their 1976 book. The reward structure present in the employer-employee relation, they now recognize, competes with other reward structures, such as family membership and citizenship.

What relevance has all this to do with equity and social justice? The formation of the kind of  character or personality is hardly irrelevant to such issues. In the first place, if the hidden curriculum in schools, which moulds children and adolescents (with or without their resistance or cooperation) and accounts to a greater extent than cognitive skills for wages and salaries, then the emphasis on the importance of schooling indirectly (even if unconsciously–the hidden curriculum) in the formation of certain personality traits is justified. Character formation, however, is an ethical question, and ethical questions surely are relevant to equity and social justice issues.

What kind of personality do we want children and adolescents to develop? To develop personalities that enable them to be used by employers without resistance? To be used as instruments for the benefit of employers?

Or do we want children and adolescent to develop personalities that enable them to resist being used as instruments by employers?

In the second place, if children’s and adolescents’ prospects at work are also a function of the economic conditions of their parents, should we not be doing something concrete to negate that situation? Like trying to eliminate childhood poverty?

However, it should be noted that even if child poverty in terms of socio-economic differences were realized, the formation of the kind of character or personality required by employers would still be a problem—except for those who do not question the employer-employee relation.

Dr.  Kryzanowski does not address the fact that there is a market for workers, and the school system is intimately connected to the economic structure.

Those who are interested in equity and social justice, in such a situation, may be contributing to inequity and social justice by being blind to that situation and not taking it into account. The road to hell, after all, is paved with good intentions.

Management Rights in a Spanish Collective Agreement: An Expression of “Free Collective Bargaining” or the Dicatorship of Employers?

There are undoubtedly variations in the rights of workers from country to country, but the fundamental principle of the power of employers as a class is constant. This power is often implicit but also often is expressed more explicitly–even in collective agreements between employers and unions.

For example, the following is taken from the collective agreement for offices between the General Union of Workers (Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT)), the Workers’ Commissions (Comisiones Obreras (CCOO)), and the Madrid Business Confederation (la Confederación Empresarial de Madrid–CEOE) (CEIM)), dated January 1, 2019-December 31, 2021:

page 6 (my rough translation) (the original in Spanish is included afterwards):

Chapter 2–Organization of Work and Functions

Article 8: General Principles

  1. The practical organization of the work, subject to this collective agreement and the current social legislation in force, is the exclusive capacity of the management of the enterprise.

A further clause also expresses the power of the employer in relation to the employees (page 28):

Chapter 10–Code of Conduct

Article 44: Disciplinary Regime 

  1. The capacity to impose discipline corresponds to the management of the enterprise or to persons delegated for that purpose.

Is this an expression of a democratic society? If democracy is a way of life and not just formal voting for political representatives, do such clauses in collective agreements (which are normally superior to non-unionized implicit employment contracts in terms of provisions for workers) express democracy? Or do they express dictatorship–a dictatorial way of life? See, for example, The Money Circuit of Capital or Employers as Dictators, Part One.

Is this a good example of what union reps mean by “free collective bargaining?” “Good contracts?” “Fair contracts?” “Decent work?” What do you think?

Spanish Original



1. La organización práctica del trabajo, con sujeción a este Convenio Colectivo y a la
legislación social vigente, es facultad exclusiva de la Dirección de la Empresa.



1. La facultad de imponer las sanciones corresponderá a la dirección de la empresa
o en las personas en quien delegue.

A Worker’s Resistance to the Capitalist Government or State and Its Representatives, Part Twelve

This final post in this series has to do with a long psychological vocational assessment performed by Jeffrey Karp on May 30, 2014. It is 15 pages long. I choose only to select the last few pages since they illustrate the oppressive nature of such assessments.

On page 13, Mr. Karp wrote the following:

Mr. Harris’s psychological test profile highlighted chronic maladjustment. In particular he may be characterized as rigid and over controlled in social situations, withdrawn, antagonistic, likely paranoid, negativistic, moody, overly sensitive, unreliable, and critical. 

On page 14, he wrote: 

The above diagnostic formulation is consistent with Dr. Morier’s (December 18, 2012 and March 28, 2012)….

On the basis of the present assessment any treatment must address Mr. Harris’s paranoid personality and perfectionism; however, resistance to treatment and/or early withdrawal is likely. Nevertheless, further psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy should be attempted.

On page 15, he recommended: 

  1. The present assessment provides further support for referral to CAMH or a psychologist in private practice with experience treating Paranoid Personality Disorder.
  2. A psychiatric referral for a medication consultation.
  3. Continued case management to monitor his progress and support greater socialization. A collaborative approach in this regard would be most beneficial.
  4. Mr. Harris may also benefit from taking on volunteer work or coursework (via distance education) as a form of behavioral activation and to promote vocational rehabilitation.
  5. If Mr. Harris paranoia shows signs of amelioration, further vocational rehabilitation may prove warranted (e.g., a psychovocational reassessment and possible retraining or return to work supports).

The assessment is signed by Mr. Karp, with the title “Psychologist” and the following: 

Practice in Clinical, Rehabilitation and Police Psychology

It is interesting that Mr. Karp considers my perfectionism to be a problem. Let us look at some of the factual errors in his assessment (there are many issues in the assessment, but I will confine myself to facts that illustrate the level of accuracy of the reporting:

  1. Page 3:

    Background Information

    Mr. Harris reportedly relocated to Ontario from Winnipeg, Manitoba on August 31, 2014.

    The assessment date is May 30, 2014. It was August 31, 2013, not 2014.

  2. Page 4:

    Mr. Harris is single and has not been in a serious relationship since January 2014.

    I do not remember the exact date, but the last serious relationship was certainly a few years before January 2014 and even January 2013. Where Mr. Karp obtained this date is anyone’s guess.

  3. Page 4:

    Previously, he was in a common law relationship from July 10, 1987 until becoming legally married in November 14, 1996. 

    The marriage was July 10, 1987–and the divorce date was November 14, 1996. 

  4. Page 5:

    [Put into quotes–supposedly quoting me: “I saw an urologist here, Dr. Barkin, and did a cystoscopy. There were no visible signs of cancer in the right kidney, although it’s not functioning.” 

    All my cystoscopies have been to determine whether the bladder cancer that I had in 2009 had returned; Mr. Barkin performed a cystoscopy to determine that. My right kidney suffered damage in 2008 or 2009 because the urine backed up into it due to the bladder cancer tumor. Mr. Barkin had me undergo a scan or, perhaps, an ultrasound (I forget which), to determine renal damage and functioning. The results showed that my right kidney no longer functioned (it had shrunk in size).  

  5. Page 6:

    He [Fred Harris] added: I was falsely accused by Child and Family Services 20 to 25 times.”

    There are two possibilities here. I undoubtedly mentioned that, after having been falsely accused of sexually abusing Francesca for a second time in 1997 and being under investigation by Winnipeg Child and Family Services (WCFS). I contacted the supervisor of Jackie Davidson, the worker for WCFS, who investigated the allegations of sexual abuse; I wanted to know how many times my ex-wife could falsely accuse me of sexually abusing Francesca before It was the supervisor who stated that the WCFS would probably not do anything after 20 to 25 false accusations of sexual abuse. It had nothing to do with “physical abuse.” This is one possibility.

    The second possibility is that Mr. Karp confused my references to the many times that Francesca’s mother had physically abused her (see for example  A Worker’s Resistance to the Capitalist Government or State and Its Representatives, Part Nine) and attributed to me the claim that I was falsely accused of physically abusing Francesca “20 to 25 times.”

  6. Page 12:

    Mr. Jenkins also completed a number of psychometric tests….

    My name is Mr. Harris, not Mr. Jenkins. Although it was probably a secretary who made the mistake–it is Mr. Karp’s report, and it is his responsibility to assure its accuracy.

  7. Page 12:

    This 56-year old male was referred for a psychovocational assessment….

    On page 2, it is accurately reported that I was 57 at the time of the assessment–not 56.

  8. Page 12:

    This 56-year old male

    Same problem 12 as in 7.

Surely, in a professional assessment, you would expect accuracy. But only for those with “perfectionist” tendencies, which are negative qualities, Mr. Karp implies. Scientists, however, know that accuracy is essential for the scientific endeavour. 

I leave the reader to draw her or his own conclusions about the accuracy of Mr. Karp’s psychovocational assessment. 

In any case, it is evident that Mr. Karp’s assessment does not express any perfectionist tendencies. 

Searching on the Web, I found the following (

Dr. Karp is a registered psychologist in the province of Ontario (Certificate #4623). He is duly qualified to practice clinical, rehabilitation, and police psychology, which includes psychological, psycho-vocational, fitness to work, fitness for duty, substance abuse, and psychoeducational assessments. He graduated with a doctorate in clinical psychology from the Adler School of Professional Psychology in 2007 and in 1989 he completed an MA in counseling psychology at Simon Fraser University. He completed an internship in vocational rehabilitation at the University of Wisconsin in 1990.

As a rehabilitation counselor and more recently as a psychologist, Dr. Karp has over 20 years’ experience in rehabilitation, with particular expertise in vocational rehabilitation, disability management, and fitness for work. In the past he has provided assessment and psychotherapeutic support to injured workers in an outpatient hospital-based rehabilitation setting and offered psychological assessments and psychotherapy in private practice.

Dr. Karp has specialized training as a Substance Abuse Expert Evaluator and has completed training through the Forensic Psychology Program of Alliant University in Psychological Pre-Employment Screening and Fitness for Duty in Law Enforcement. He is also a member in good standing of the Ontario Psychological Association and the Society for Police and Criminal Psychology.

When we look at what the Society for Police and Criminal Psychology is, we read the following ( 

The Society for Police and Criminal Psychology is an eclectic professional organization that encourages the scientific study of police and criminal psychology and the application of scientific knowledge to problems in criminal justice. It focuses on law enforcement, judicial, and corrections elements in criminal justice. Members of the Society study the full range of human behaviors, motivations, and actions within the framework of the criminal justice system.  Consequently, the Society encourages input from psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, lawyers, police officers, corrections personnel, and other professionals concerned with the criminal justice system. 

The Future

The interests of the Society of Police and Criminal Psychology are broad in scope. Our members play many roles in law enforcement and criminal justice and come from all over the world.  We are proud of our inclusive and eclectic philosophy, and believe that through our combined efforts we are well positioned to lead our field in research and the application of practical solutions in police and criminal psychology.  The Society supports the development of Police Psychology as a recognized specialty area, and the development of educational opportunities in the field.

Political Implications

  1. Mr. Slusky, the psychologist in Winnipeg, agreed with the psychiatrist, Dr. Gisele Morier, that I suffered from “paranoid personality disorder.” Mr. Karp did the same. We can expect a network of “professionals” to reinforce each other in judging the mental health of individuals–on the assumption that our society is somehow rational. 
  2. The social-democratic left generally fail to consider the extent to which this network of individuals and professions reinforces the fundamental structure of the power of the class of employers and the associated economic, political and social structures of exploitation and oppression.
  3. The underestimation of the extent to which there exists a network of individuals and professions that serve, ultimately, the interests of the class of employers thereby overestimates the ease with which social change can occur without a decided strategy for addressing such institutional, ideological and individual oppression. 
  4. What is needed is open and systematic critique of such individuals, professions and institutions.
  5. This requires that the radical left discuss such issues and formulate measures and organize to counteract these oppressive individuals, professions and institutions.
  6. It also requires the radical left critique the social-democratic or reformist left since such reformers are blind to the oppressive nature of such institutions. 

Critical Education Articles Placed in the Teacher Staff Lounge While I Was a Teacher, Part Seventeen: The Failure of Micro School Reformism to Address Children’s Poverty

This is a continuation of a series of posts on summaries of articles, mainly on education.

When I was a French teacher at Ashern Central School, in Ashern, Manitoba, Canada, I started to place critiques, mainly (although not entirely) of the current school system. At first, I merely printed off the articles, but then I started to provide a summary of the article along with the article. I placed the summaries along with the articles in a binder (and, eventually, binders), and I placed the binder in the staff lounge.

As chair of the Equity and Justice Committee for Lakeshore Teachers’ Association of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society (MTS), I also sent the articles and summary to the Ning of the MTS (a ning is “an online platform for people and organizations to create custom social networks”).

As I pointed out in a previous post, it is necessary for the radical left to use every opportunity to question the legitimacy of existing institutions.

The attached article for the ESJ Ning is prefaced by the following:

Hello everyone,

Attached is another article for the ESJ Ning. I prefaced it with the following:

Bernie Froese-Germain, author of the editorial “Make Child Poverty History? Yes We Can,” argues that there is not an either-or view of child poverty. There are many actions that can be taken in schools to address child poverty without eliminating child poverty altogether.

Froese-Germain then outlines some measures that can be taken in schools to address child poverty without directly attacking child poverty.

This view is typical of many social reformers. Social reformers view the world in terms of the possibility of changing some things while leaving other things intact.

Interestingly enough, the editor refers to a research project on urban poverty and Canadian schools by Ben Levin and Jane Gaskell. I was a research assistant to Ben Levin on that project and eventually withdrew because I judged that such research in fact would not lead to questioning basic causes of poverty and would have minimal impact in addressing the issue of poverty as such and its impact in schools. In fact, I attended a conference in Toronto with Ben Levin, and several academics and school bureaucrats were there as well. My general impression then, as now, is that it was a group of reformers who would never really attack poverty in Canada.

When reading this article, then, I was quite sceptical of its suggestions. Indeed, Froese-Germain relies on another reformist professor—Professor Fiessa, of OISE (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education), who argues against the “either-or” viewpoint. The either-or viewpoint is supposedly that either only conditions within the school or conditions outside the school matter; Professor Fiessa undoubtedly considers his viewpoint to be superior to such dichotomous views.

I support one of these views, namely, that conditions outside the school should be the focus of our efforts rather than a focus of what transpires within the school walls. In the first place, suggestions about what to do in schools for the children of poorer parents, without sufficient power from the poor themselves, is merely band aid methods. For instance, I have serious doubts about the contention in the article that early intervention to help children of low-income parents results in “success” (as defined by the current school system, of course) of such children. What probably happens is that such “interventions” become substitutes for addressing the issue of why the parents receive a low income in the first place. The issue of poverty and eliminating it then becomes swept under the rug and never addressed through a frontal assault on it. The “interventions” within school walls in the 1970s in Winnipeg, for instance, have not changed substantially the situation of poverty in inner-city schools in the twenty-first century. Why is that?

In the second place, the author of the article is too optimistic about the ease with which poverty can be eliminated—given the capitalist nature of the economic structure. The economic crisis of 2008 has undoubtedly limited the possibility of eliminating poverty. For example, despite efforts to eliminate child poverty in Ireland, the level of poverty increased from 2008 to 2009 in that country, from 4.2 percent to 5.5 percent (which is still quite low when compared to Canada). Given the economic difficulties that the Irish working class have faced since then, the probability is that the level of poverty has increased even more—while CEOs and other high-end managers receive millions and even billions of dollars, pounds or other currency.

In the third place, of course, something can be done within school walls, but what is done goes around in circles since the issue of poverty takes second place. If poverty did not take second place, then teachers would have to organize, struggle and fight for the abolition of the conditions which tend to reproduce poverty among children. Neither the author, nor Professor Fiessa, on whom he partly relies, refers to the need to engage in struggle and power politics if poverty inside and outside schools is really going to be addressed.

In the fourth place, Professor Fiessa, like so many others, assumes that the general structure of schools is rational and that changes are to be effected that fit within that general structure (Professor Fiessa and the author show no evidence indicating that they question the standard of success as defined by school bureaucrats. Those who do not work for an employer are often stigmatized and treated as second-class citizens. So too in all likelihood are their children.)

Those who wish to focus on changes in school relations would have to show how such changes actually lead to better lives for the poor—without assuming that success is defined in terms of doing well in the present school structure (as so many middle-class researchers do). The implicit assumption of many researchers is that the modern school system constitutes the standard and that supports are to be provided so that the poor can compete on the same level as other children and adolescents of the middle and upper classes. There is little criticism of the standard itself. In other words, reformist teachers really do not critically engage with their environment. They merely want to reproduce the status quo, but they want to make the playing field of competition more equitable and just. Does not critical thinking demand that we question the assumption that the modern school system constitutes the standard for defining educational success?

What is required, then, is a simultaneous focus on poverty and struggle to eliminate it, on the one hand, and a critical approach to the definition of what constitutes school success on the other.

Equity and social justice demands that we do so, does it not? Or are those who are concerned with equity and social justice issues more concerned with the micro issues in school and classroom that will never address the impact of poverty—and class—on children’s life and results in schools?