Re: DSM: public school prisons (sharing the SVS model, etc.)

Bruce Smith (
Sun, 12 Nov 2000 18:28:55 -0700

> I also get nervous in the presence of either-or thinking. It's been my
>experience that there's >just about never only two choices.

Fair enough. Still, I was only trying to say that I don't believe one
person can be both reformer and revolutionary (especially in this case,
since real reform is impossible).

>Also what about the millions of kids who are still stuck in trad school? Don't
>tell me it does no good for them to see a teacher who's "way out" and who
>exposes the foolishness of the system, because I know it does do good.

Of course it does. I'd like to think I see shades of gray as well as the
next person. My argument, again, is simply that an individual's work within
that system also does harm, because you _can't_ always be the nice guy, and
you _are_ prolonging its existence (longer than if you could/would leave).
And prolonging its existence prolongs the misery for many more than you
could ever help.

>The irony is that these teachers are treated as outcasts or crazies by their
>own colleagues, and many of their students take up the cry.

It is unfair that people whose hearts are in the right place should get
flak from all sides. But what else do you expect?

>And I disagree with you on another point. They don't keep the old order
>running. They continually weaken it with questions and challenges.

Yeah, it's real weak, isn't it? A couple more years and it oughta be
history. In all seriousness, though, while those questions and challenges
are valuable, how effective are they, really, in bringing about a broad,
drastic transformation of public education?

>The ones
>who keep the old order running are the unquestioning, incurious, humorless
>functionaries in classrooms and offices -- AND the parents and kids who trust
>and obey them. Save your ammo for the enemy, my friend.

My enemy is that system, and ignorance of its true nature. Where they're
concerned, I prefer not to spare the ammo. Anyway, the truly despicable and
unquestioning people you describe are easy targets who aren't likely to be
persuaded by any argument.

>I can't find it in my heart to condemn anyone who stays in trad school to help
>the kids.

I'm doing my best to keep this simple: I am not interested in condeming
people, but those who remain in the system are doing harm, despite their
good intentions and laudable efforts, simply by remaining there. They
*have* to do some harm -- it's part of the job! While it is their right to
make that choice, and they may have very good reasons for remaining, that
doesn't negate the fact that the system would collapse much sooner if more
caring and thoughtful individuals could give it the boot.


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