The Blogs of My Friends #1 Revisited

Shay Seaborne has had an essay on her blog, SynergyField, for several months now, titled A Homeschooler’s Changing Perspective on Authority Figures. She writes, “…this woman is trying to muster the courage to face the school division, because, as she stated, ‘these people intimidate me.’ I noted that, ‘It is common to feel intimidated by authority figures. After all, we learned that fear in school.’ Who among us did not learn to fear being sent to the principal’s office, to tremble at the thought of facing that man in a suit, that man who had the power to rule our lives?”

This essay is particularly interesting in light of some responses which appeared on the HEM Writers discussion group after I wrote my first post here titled “The Blogs of My Friends.” That post quoted Cindy Englan’s blog, in which she wrote in part: “…we were walking away from the school building, away from everything he and I had known as ‘education’. He didn’t utter a word, but he didn’t have to. Those eyes said it all.” Cindy’s writing generated responses from a couple of people:

The first writer, tcglen, wrote: “It captures the essence of what home school families all across the nation feel. And it conveys something even more important – the inborn responsibility parents have to step up to the plate, and do what is in the best interest of their child.

“Sadly, for every parent like you that faced down the great government-indoctrination-camp monster, there are literally thousands who either do not know how, or don’t have the courage and tenacity.

“I am a firm believer that children will live either up, or down, to our expectations of them and public schools cannot, by their very nature, provide the attention needed to show every child that he/she is worthy of the great expectations a parent has for them.

“And I am convinced, beyond any doubt, that a large percentage of our prison population once sat in the back of a classroom, not understanding the subject matter, but afraid to ask the teacher for further help because the student already had been labeled ‘slow,’ or a ‘trouble maker.’ Unfortunately, these children did not have parents that were willing (or able) to step up and take control of their child’s education.”

The second writer, Tricia, added: “Our ‘public schools,’ and because they are basically run by the federal government these days, I call them ‘government schools,’ are running exactly as planned. They are, like the War on Drugs, a huge success for the elite who planned them. A nation of dumbed down zombies was the goal of the government schools and that’s what we’re getting. So when people talk about the government schools as being a disaster, I have to disagree. To us, they may look that way, but the United States would have a hard time pulling things over us (for instance, the loss of habeus corpus as occurred last fall) without the help of forced schooling.”

This reminded me of something I read the other day from our online collection of old Growing Without Schooling back issues, in which John Holt wrote about a court case in California: “Shortly after the youth’s graduation, he was given a reading test by specialists who concluded the youth was only reading on a fifth grade level…

“…the California State Court of Appeals rejected the parents’ claim of the school system’s failure to educate their son. The court declared it was impossible for any person, most of all the courts, to set guidelines for proper’ academic procedures which must be followed by all schools and teachers.

“Unlike the activity of the highway, or the marketplace, classroom methodology affords no readily acceptable standards of care, or cause, or injury. The science of pedagogy itself is fraught with different and conflicting theories of how or what a child should be taught, and any layman might, and commonly does, have his own emphatic views of the subject,’ read the court’s opinion.

“The court was, of course, quite right in saying this. But what then becomes of the claim, which the schools make all the time, that they alone know how to teach children? It might not be a bad idea for parents, fighting in court for the right to teach their own children, to quote those words from the California decision.”

In that same GWS#8, a teacher from North Carolina also wrote, “As a former school teacher, a part-time teacher of my own children, and as a present day violin teacher, I agree with your general ideas. S-chools are inhumane, in their continual testing, ranking, and grading of children and in their rigid rules, and especially in their perpetual, secret, damaging record keeping …”

John Holt replied to her, explaining his use of the capitalized and non-capitalized word: “S-chools refers to a distinction I made, in INSTEAD OF EDUCATION, between S-chools and s-chools. S-chools are places where people have to go, either because the law tells them to, or because they believe (with some reason) that without the tickets they can only get from schools they can’t get decent work. What I call s-chools, on the other hand, are places like cooking schools, ski schools, schools of dance or martial arts, craft schools, etc. which, since they are not compulsory, and since they don’t give credits, diplomas, etc., people only go to because they want to.”

Some pretty interesting food for thought on the whole topic of schools and schooling.

One Response to The Blogs of My Friends #1 Revisited

  1. slow8steady on July 11, 2007 at 7:20 am

    I think that a fear of authority probably does not begin in the schools, but rather at home under the guise of “respecting your elders”. Actually, I send my students to the principal’s office as many times for rewards as for punishment. Most teachers i know, including myself, do not send a student to the office until contacts with the parents have been made and nothing changes. It’s also been a long time since I’ve seen a student or parent intimidated by any authority in the public schools.

    i am particularly offended by the “dumbed down zombie” reference. This is an unfounded, invalid comment. Believe me, I have spent untold hours working with home schooled children whose parents enrolled them back into public schools helping them to get back on grade level. In a country that attracts all kinds of people from foreign nations who come here because Americans are innovated and willing to take risks to try out new ideas, Trina has a lot of nerve saying that the students we turn out are zombies.

    Trina has it all wrong. The elite are the ones who champion charter schools (private schools using tax payers’ money), vouchers, and other Republican ideas to keep their children away from people who are not like them. I dare say you home schoolers who bash the public schools can relate to that.

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