DSM: RE: anger (was: teenagedom)

From: Joe Jackson (shoeless@jazztbone.com)
Date: Mon Jan 21 2002 - 07:17:38 EST


Mort,

> so my point is that anger can be misplaced, i.e. projected
> onto something or someone that is not the source, and it can
> also be the result of a misunderstanding (these are just two
> observations, of course it can be much more).

OK, yes I definitely agree with you. And to me the learning process of
understanding what it is you're dealing with before reacting is not
about emotional control, but about thought control. It's just that
there's such a subtle distinction between this and society's anger
stigma. AND that this societal stigma is so often pointed at the young.

Also, I think this type of lesson melds flawlessly with learning to
accept that which one has no power at the present to change.

But I still think the degree to which a student struggles with these
lessons points not to an inability to understand or cope with "shit",
but actually points to the degree with which they hold passion for their
principles. That's the point that feels like it strikes home with our
students, as I find the tendency of our kids is to have really
passionate feelings about the more global & political issues (like the
trials and tribs of operating a Sudbury school in today's political and
social climate).

> in both cases,
> i personally find it helpful to get behind the anger and
> learn from it. if i can be instrumental in helping someone
> else, i.e. my children, do the same, and they find it equally
> beneficial, then i am all the more happy.

Yes; and I'm sure you understand we have to be very careful there.
While I think it is customary and fine to initiate conversations with
kids about things that happen (e.g. "Jesus, dude, why are you flipping
off a bus?"), I think it is important for staff to themselves have a
high degree of acceptance as to the feelings and prejudices of students
(as long as these feelings and prejudices don't hurt anyone else or
produce a hostile climate at the school).

In other words, I think it's important that staff not go on crusades to
transform our student's understandings of these realities. This, of
course, is in order to preserve what I think is the primary dynamic of
the school, which is a place where students have the time and space (and
lack of adult interference) to develop a learning process that is
self-started and self-driven. This, in my view, is supremely more
important than any one specific lesson.

-Joe

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