Bruce Smith (email@example.com)
Thu, 9 Nov 2000 21:51:05 -0700
More of Kathleen's questions, which my earlier posts touch on, but don't
3. Are children or anyone ever really damaged?
4. If they are damaged, what is the characterization of such damage?
Wow!!! How can anyone with any experience in traditional schools even *ask*
such questions? Have you not eyes, do you not see?
How does it damage them? Let me count the ways...
The dropouts, the constant battles at home over grades and homework, being
turned off from learning and/or convinced that one is incapable of X, Y, or
Z before ever really trying it, the easy slide into
rebelliousness/delinquency/substance abuse (which a supportive, respectful
school might have prevented), the child who "goes underground," hiding
herself from view so that her Self can avoid attack, the anxiety attacks
that paralyze students who want to get good grades and test scores...need I
Have you never seen a child's spark get extinguished? Is that not damage?
How can anyone not be damaged by prolonged exposure to powerlessness?
When all of one's significant choices are taken away for 12 of their first
18 years, and then one is suddenly dumped out into society with no
experience in decision-making, responsibility, or self-reliance...can you
tell me that they're not damaged?
So many students come to Sudbury schools as sullen, angry, disrespectful,
listless, _lifeless_ teenagers -- in short, damaged goods. It takes weeks
or months, often years, for them to recover a bit of themselves and become
human again. When you have no sense of Self, no passion...is that not
More disturbing yet is the subtle damage done to students who function well
in that system. These students become so addicted to grades, and to
following others' agendas, that they forget who they are and lose the
ability to function _without_ adult guidance and praise. I speak from
personal experience on this. To all observers, they appear to be model
students; but in reality, they are awaiting a tragic crash when they enter
the real world, where they won't have someone holding their hand and
patting them on the back.
Because of my friendships and conversations with former students, I am
privy to the scars that many of their teachers may never have suspected. If
you could hear what I heard from students "just fine" on the surface, but
burning with resentment inside, you wouldn't need to ask such questions as
"Education is identical with helping the child realize his potentialities.
The opposite of education is manipulation, which is based on the absence of
faith in the growth of potentialities, and on the conviction that a child
will be right only if the adults put into him what is desirable and
suppress what seems to be undesirable. There is no need of faith in the
robot, since there is no life in it either."
Erich Fromm, _The Art of Loving_
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