Tree-Hugging Dirt Worship

March 10, 2011

Why Obama et al. Can’t Stop Bullying in School

Filed under: Soapbox — Tags: , , , — paragardener @ 2:56 am

Tomorrow Obama is hosting a conference on stopping bullying in public school. Said the Prez, ““For a long time, bullying was treated as an unavoidable part of growing up, but more and more, we’re seeing how harmful it can be for our kids…”

The Shill in Chief earns a warm golf clap for recognizing that children have a right to be free of physical and verbal abuse, as most adults take for granted. Not too many people have to worry about getting beat up or duct-taped into a locker at work.

Too bad the public school is an engine for turning out abusers and victims. It isn’t that the institution is sadistic (that’s too human for it) — it’s a side effect of a system designed to turn out obedient corporate workers and consumers. If you doubt this purpose for a second, try to remember why you were supposed to work hard in school — was it to get “a better job” once you were finally allowed to work? Yay, then you can get a bigger house which will hold more stuff.

I must bring up John Taylor Gatto, a writer and retired, prize-winning teacher from the New York City public schools. He came to question whether he had actually been hired to teach children, or to dumb them down, thus opening a Pandora’s Can of Worms. “Slowly I began to realize that the bells and the confinement, the crazy sequences, the age-segregation, the lack of privacy, the constant surveillance, and all the rest of the national curriculum of schooling were designed exactly as if someone had set out to -prevent- children from learning how to think and act, to coax them into addiction and dependent behavior.”

Gatto taught both envy and derision by numbering and grading students, and generally making them “know their place.” He taught indifference by halting any conversation or project at the ring of a bell. He taught dependency by doling out punishments and rewards, which, in confinement, can be as measly as a trip to the restroom. Gatto resisted, but ultimately had to play his role in the institution. Imagine how much harder for students to resist the institutional pressure!

Some students respond with apathy, depression and generally feeling locked out of life, which turns them into excellent victims. Others rebel violently, which most likely spills onto fellow students. Like a diluted version of prison, the institutional structure of school breeds lying, bullying and snitching.

(Remember the Stanford Prison Experiment? The weird routine of prison life left both inmates and guards in a “continuous present” wherein they thought little about consequences. Uniforms and identical haircuts made them more anonymous to each other. Abuse was rampant and the experiment had to be shut down ahead of schedule. Yet, schools are being made more and more to resemble the experimental prison.)

There are alternatives to warehousing the children and coercing them to jump through an endless series of academic hoops. I don’t expect the President’s conference to address any such alternatives. What a waste…

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3 Comments »

  1. Loved this post!

    I notice that in the Stanford Prison Experiment only the healthiest people were used, i.e. those without apparent psychological problems, addictions, disabilities, or criminal histories. That’s a safety measure not afforded within public schools.

    I would also note that school uniforms have been supported on the Left as a means of alleviating income / social class differences. What suckers the Left have been in recent years (on so many fronts). I think it was my second ever post on schooling / homeschooling where I outlined a whole slew of cases where they rabidly went after a kid for a deviation from the dress code. This is best seen as either prison warden behavior or Soviet behavior, but same motivation either way.

    Comment by freelearner — March 10, 2011 @ 3:37 am

  2. Great post. It’s admirable to put bullying out front as a problem and to challenge the nonsense that it’s just part of growing up and that it will somehow equip children for life (because apparently childhood isn’t actually “life.”)I do think it’s good not to accept bullying, and I’d like to see the Michigan legislature pass the anti-bullying bill. But you’re on target with the idea that the system is at fault here.

    Comment by estraven — March 22, 2011 @ 12:38 am

    • It looks like the proposed law pretty much just requires schools actually have -some kind of- policy against bullying and harassment. Further, it puts the responsibility for developing the policy on the school districts, where currently there is a “model policy” put out by the State for all districts to follow. Requiring each district to face the problem and talk about it can only help!

      Even if we reduce shanking, we gotta ask, why are the kids being held prisoner?

      Comment by paragardener — March 22, 2011 @ 3:46 pm


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