Re: DSM: Re: Finding like-minded people

Rick Stansberger (
Sun, 29 Oct 2000 09:20:23 -0700


I included the second part to counterbalance the intellectual detachment of the first section. I said that I felt like committing violence. I
didn't say that I would do so. I wouldn't. I'm a nice guy.

Do you think that educational theory gets acted out bloodlessly in the schools? If you treat people like animals or prisoners whose minds need to
be molded, they will begin to act that way.

I've seen many horrifying sights in my 25 years, and most of them didn't involve the kind of mayhem that makes the news. Imagine a line of thirty
advanced-placement high-school seniors standing out in front of your classroom door waiting for you to unlock it, when it's been unlocked all the
time. Not a one of them thought to check. We sent many of these to the "best" colleges. Imagine a student telling you that in religion class, "I
believe whatever gets me an A." Imagine an A student bragging that she hasn't read a book all year. Do you want the "best and brightest" in this
country to have no curiosity or integrity? Do you want game players and system manipulators, instead of honest makers and thinkers? You're getting
them, Julianne, by the tens of thousands. Doesn't it make you a teeny bit angry and frightened?

Let's not be like the "scarlet majors at the base" in that poem, the men who discussed strategy over port and cigars while millions of men were
blown apart or died of disease in the trenches of World War I. Let's remember that when we discuss the development of minds, we are discussing the
development of lives. And the future path of this country.

You're right, kids have ultimate control of what they learn. But they don't have control of how they're conditioned. Most are conditioned to think
that 'learning" happens only in school and that "learning" isn't cool. Most are conditioned out of being able to relate to anyone who is not the
same age, wears the same clothes, and speaks exactly the same brand of slang. Many are conditioned actually to hate kids just because they go to a
"rival" school. There's lots of other conditioning that happens there, too: that work doesn't have to mean anything, that everybody should do
everything at the same pace and at the same time, that the routine of bells is more important than any idea they might want to explore.

One name for the bells that signal the end of class is "passing bells." Did you know that "passing bells" used to be the name given to the bells
that toll at funerals? "What passing bells for those who die as cattle?" says Wilfrid Owen.

If my emotional response seems out of proportion to the situation, I'm sorry. That probably means I'm defeating my purpose and not communicating.
What can I do? I'm horrified. It's been building for a long time.


Julianne Madrid wrote:

> Rick, the first part of your response is fascinating.
> It is completely applicable to what I see happening in
> the public middle school I work in. It really comes
> down to the idea, I think, that you really don't teach
> anyone anything, rather, they take their learning from
> you if they choose. I think this is true in my school
> where we tend to think the students are "learning,"
> but for many of them it is more of a stimulus
> response. Of course, there are those who learn
> because of their interest, in spite of the
> conditioning.
> About the second part of your response, I didn't see
> the point in being rude about someone's suggestion. I
> get that this is a very emotional issue, but isn't
> this list a forum for ideas--looking at what works and
> what doesn't work? Am I mistaken?
> Julianne Madrid
> --- Rick Stansberger <> wrote:
> > Robert, they already use the behaviorist model in
> > public school, and it
> > substitutes conditioning for real learning. When
> > the rewards and punishments are
> > extrinsic rather than intrinsic, you get conditioned
> > responses, not learning.
> > Conditioning limits a person and makes her/him more
> > predictable and controllable.
> > Learning expands a person's capabilities and makes
> > her/him less controllable.
> > Conditioning is unconscious. Conditioned behaviors
> > and thoughts are automatic,
> > and very difficult to examine. Learned behaviors
> > and thoughts are accessible to
> > the conscious mind and can be modified. They are
> > also generative. Learning
> > begets more learning.
> >
> > So much for the intellectual part. Now for the
> > emotional part. I shuddered when
> > you suggested rat-lab stuff for children and I
> > wanted to knock you on your butt.
> > i don't even know who you are, but 25 years in
> > education have absolutely convinced
> > me of the EVIL of the stimulus-response model when
> > applied ot humans. WE ARE NOT
> >
> > We now return you to our normal, reasoned discourse.
> >
> > Rick
> =====
> Julianne Madrid :)
> "There are two ways to live your life--one is as though everything is a miracle, the other is as though nothing is a miracle." --Albert Einstein
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