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Juxtaposition

I had intended to blog about this collection of cell phone videos (link: Seth Godin) taken in public school classrooms that, really, resemble more the monkey cages at the zoo. What to say about all that? One commenter points to this video of a teacher having not nearly so much trouble. What's the difference?

I think it has a lot to do with the basis upon which one presumes or expects respect. In the former collection, I suspect most of those teachers approach the issue of respect as one of hierarchical authority and position; whereas, in the latter, respect is approached as something earned. I'm not excusing their behavior; they're punks, most of them, and I'm sure you can trace it right back to their parents. They've had respect shoved down their throats all their lives as a matter of hierarchy and authority, but have probably never been approached by an adult who would show them the respect of treating the issue and relationship as one of mutual value exchange to mutual enrichment and benefit.

I'm talking primarily about older kids, not 10-12 year olds and below. The younger the kid, yes, the more I think it's a matter of simple authority that's a function of parents' inherent natural responsibility that implies a natural authority (it's a similar derivation to natural rights). I'm simply saying that part of educating kids to be independent is a process of shifting authority from parents (and their proxies, like teachers) to the children and I think the ideal mechanism for accomplishing that is a process of mutually earned respect.

Coincidentally, I saw that same link just this morning in a comment at Warren Meyer's blog, linked from Billy Beck. Outlawing non-credentialed parents from seeing to their kids' own educations? Wow. This is quoted from the appellate ruling:

A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare.

So, considering what I wrote above, does that look to you more like an exercise in mutual respect earning through exchanges of values, or more like hierarchical authority, backed by jack boots, clubs, guns, police, prosecutors, courts, jails, and execution chambers?

The anti-civilization primitivity on display, even from the bench of a major appellate court, is astounding. I don't know about you, but I see right through those robes. I see savages.

Comments

  1. If you haven't already, you should check out J.T. Gatto who wrote The Underground History of American Education. I'm working through it now (in conjunction with Taubes Good Calories Bad Calories – funny how these two seemingly very different books have so much in common).

  2. Former high school teacher here. I used to get assigned the uncontrollable punk classes, and strangely enough I never had the problems shown in these videos. It is a simple matter of establishing guidelines of what is acceptable and sticking to these guidelines consistently. And after a while, your reputation precedes you. Former colleagues would comment bitterly how I could just walk into an out-of-control classroom and the students would calm down and behave, as if by magic.
    Except there was nothing magic about it.

  3. Boo:

    I get it. Precisely. Like I said, while I don't excuse this behavior, there's a side to it where I think it's not that those kids don't have the ability or the experience of demonstrating respect for others, particularly adults. It's just less likely that they're going to be fooled by someone who's never given any real reason to respect them, other than "I'm the teacher."

    I think what really goes on, and part of the "education" process, is to simply learn to respect "authority" on the general pretense of the thing. By the time college rolls around they'll all be "mature" in that way.

  4. It is a sad commentary of the state of education overall.

    Please read my latest blog post about the efforts district administrators are making to censor my comments on education and teaching and comment on it.