The best day ever

So when I’m not doing all the library school stuff, I study things like shiftwork and the influence of time in American culture. Today at my OSU class I got to lead a discussion on Taylor’s notions of scientific management, which really means I got to play the Donald Duck Nazi cartoon and talk about the development of clocks and the reassignment of muscle tasks to machines and Taylorism and Fordlandia* and shiftworkers and American work ethic and ‘efficiency’ and this was pretty much the best day ever.

*It’s true that Ford was not directly influenced by Taylor’s management style, but to say Taylor didn’t influence Ford is a stretch given the context of the efficiency movement in the United States. This is for another post and for God’s sake: factory work is based on prisons, assembly lines on slaughter houses. It isn’t as if these concepts are all that distinct from each other.

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One thought on “The best day ever

  1. I can’t carve out enough time to make substantial, regular posts to my blog. The job is kicking my ass this year as the state of Oregon institutes Taylorism in the classroom. But I digress. As you know, labor history is not my strength, but my love of intellectual history is strong. I see efficiency movements in the United States as alive and well in more that industrial or post-industrial businesses. Education is very much in the thrall of people who are copying DMAIC or Sigma Six industrial practices and imposing those methodologies on teaching and curriculum — hence, Common Core, which is all the shizzle because the business world had a heavy hand in its implementation and development. (I hope I at least got a chuckle with the phrase “all the shizzle.”) Teachers must demonstrate results while their efficiency is quantitatively measured through a new evaluation process where students are measured for growth and outcomes. True, as a teacher I want my students to know more after they’ve been in my classroom than before, and I can’t claim to be a good teacher if the bulk of them don’t demonstrate competence in the subjects I teach. But unlike the Donald Duck cartoon, there is more than just a simple assembly line that takes raw kids on one end and pumps out competent scholars on the other. Contemporary Taylorism wants accountable teachers. Well, I want accountable parents, among other things.

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