On December 2, 1964, Mario Savio, a 21 year old student at the University of California at Berkeley, made this speech. The purpose of education is in question in his speech. The original intent was the fostering of citizens. Today the thrust is jobs, in particular the development of skills useful to corporations. STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) reigns supreme. Savio questions this structure. 48 years on and this system is even more entrenched. This isn’t a (total) anti-corporate diatribe. Corporations are useful constructions for organizing large and complex systems. I benefit from my computer and iPhone; the Visa card is an amazing system; when we flip the switch the lights come on. The danger comes when they become manipulators – maybe controllers is the right word – of the political system, allowing for privileges accorded them in excess of others. In particular we see this with the fossil fuel industries, with the resultant existential threat of climate change.
It is inspiring to see such an articulate speech from so young a person. I would love to see this from my students.
Skip to 2:17 to 5:00 for the most important part of the speech, but the entire is interesting from the standpoint of university politics – politics that are with us today.