I read an interesting article today about South Carolina refusing to nominate “Green-Ribbon Schools under a new federal awards program.” Essentially, the nomination would fund, as well as “encourage schools to improve their energy efficiency” and “create healthy environments.” The state superintendent seemed to summarize South Carolina’s opposition to the nomination by saying the “initiative has too many “burdensome” requirements… a dollar spent ‘greening’ a school is a dollar not spent in the classroom improving educational outcomes for students.” I feel that this article provides an interesting example of the ways in which we divide the modern world into the natural and the human, which relates to Latour’s theories (I know my past few blog posts have all been about his theories, but I’m primarily using him in my paper so they have been on my mind).
It seems here that the two worlds are in opposition with each other. The human world is seen as distinctly different, which allows it to become much more important in the eyes of our state’s Superintendent. In his opinion, making sure that the students of our state get a quality education is more important than making sure our schools are environmentally friendly, and that the so called natural world is harmed as little as possible. I’m certainly not saying he should be condemned for his opinion, because this is a very complicated decision to make, but what if the two worlds were not seen as distinctly different, but in a common assemblage? What if one world was not seen as more “real,” or more “unstable,” or even more important, because the divide simply didn’t exist? Maybe then, our education system would be more aware of the detrimental effects that civilization currently has on the planet, which inadvertently has a detrimental effect on us as humans. Still, from a modern perspective that acknowledges a distinct social and political world, ‘greening’ our schools, and improving education systems are both great ways to distribute funds. However, it doesn’t seem that we are spending dollars “in the classroom improving educational outcomes for students” anyways.