Jack Saturday

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Anti-Job Pro-Freedom Quote Of The Week 116

At one point, we sat in the office for about twenty minutes. During that short time, we witnessed the "disciplinarian" (let's call him Mr. D) deal with several children. One kid - maybe a sophomore - was brought in to be reprimanded for skipping class. During the reprimand, the kid barely made eye contact with Mr. D. He basically looked like he was having an out-of-body and out-of-mind experience - which may have been a most effective escape route as Mr. D's apparent goal was to shame him, humiliate him, and threaten to take him off the ice hockey team.

There was no respect for privacy. The whole "conversation" happened in front of anyone who happened to be in the office. There was no attempt to find out what was going on with the kid or to explore why he wasn't going to class. Mr. D did not even seem particularly concerned about the fact that the kid was basically acting like a zombie. The whole charade seemed like a ritual enactment of the essence of mandatory education today. Mr. D represents institutional authority, the enforcer of the rules, the wielder of the carrot and the stick. He makes it clear that he doesn't care if the kid is *learning* so long as the kid is *showing up.*

After he left, a younger kid came in who apparently was not so alienated from authority and still retained some idea that you could get support navigating difficult situations in school. He was being bullied by kids in the lunchroom and he came in asking for help. Mr. D talked to him the same way he talked to the other kid - his words and his tone moving along the narrow spectrum between shaming, blaming, and humiliating. "What are you doing in here talking to me? I don't want to see you back here. We all have problems sometimes. Get back to class."

Violence, bullying, and mean behavior are expected and almost condoned in this way. It's an institutional norm. Get used to it.

Unenrolling My Daughter from School
Or Choosing Not to "Get Used to It",

Part 2 of Snapshots from School
ZNet Commentary
February 09, 2007

By Cynthia Peters


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