0159: Punitive Silence: Quiet Halls and Raucous Classrooms
#education #SOSchat #discipline
Our students have been ‘on silence’ for the past week. ‘On Silence’ means students aren’t permitted to talk at all between classes. This is a punitive measure enforced when students are deemed too loud in the halls, are preparing for an upcoming test, if someone got into a fight the day before, an array of arbitrary reasons, and so forth. Such group contingencies, at least in our case, breed an atmosphere of resentment among the student population. Time between classes is a valuable time for minimal socialization between classes. They have no break during the day besides lunch. One lunch period is silent or kept under militaristic rule and the other is social. There’s little time to release the pressure for students outside of class. As one might figure, days when we are ‘on silence’ result in more unruly behavior in the classroom. But, this doesn’t seem to register with the decision makers. C’est la vie I suppose.
0160: The Enforcement of Punitive Silence (follow up)
polygonal-lasso answered: How in the world do you enforce silence? And I’ve never seen broad punishments do more than make most students, even “good” ones, resentful.
coloursinaflower answered: How is the silence enforced?
First, the silence in enforced randomly. Obviously, students are going to disobey this order. It’s beyond ridiculous. As students walk from class to class, teachers monitor, under the panoptic supervision of administration. Several of the ‘monitors’ echo the rule: “we’re on silence,” they yell. Sometimes administration walks around yelling the same thing. A cognizant colleague walks past me and says: “I’d say good morning, but we’re on silence.” I still haven’t gotten around to how the silence is enforced. I’ll continue. The mechanics of how it is enforced is actually quite brilliant, but this is only by accident or plum luck (unfortunately, I don’t work for a sinister master of thought control), and there is little connection to possible negative consequences of the ‘Silence’. As I’ve said, it is enforced randomly. Students who are caught talking are pulled out of the crowd and receive one of a few punishments. Some are disappeared to In School Suspension (ISS). Others are given Saturday school. And others still might fall victim to corporal punishment. Mechanically, many students comply publically out of
fear of the punishment. Other students rebel openly. Some prefer ISS to classes. Some have to come on Saturdays for “mandatory tutoring”. These students are required to come because of test scores. Most are old enough not to fear the paddle. It hurts, but they’re a little older. But, these students are outliers. Most fall in line to avoid the punishment, and let their steam out in the classroom.
This is detrimental to the learning environment. The classroom, for many, becomes an extension of the rigid hallway rules. Students are going to get their socialization in one way or another. To manufacture a learning environment teachers have a few choices. 1) They can implement the same sort of discipline in the classroom. Disruptors are removed and disciplined. 2) The teacher can completely surrender and accept chaos. Learning is
also minimal with this option. 3) Compromise is an option. With this are an array of innovative tools that can be employed to ensure an amicable learning environment.
I hope this answered some questions. Perhaps it stimulated some more. Do share good friends.
#education #Foucault #SOSchat #OWS #p2
“The ideas of crime and punishment must be strongly linked and ‘follow one another without interruption… When you have thus formed the chain of ideas in the heads of your citizens, you will then be able to pride yourselves on guiding them and being their masters. A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly by the chain of their own ideas; it is at the stable point of reason that he secures the end of the chain; the link is all the stronger in that we do not know of what it is made and we believe it to be our own work; despair and time eat away the bonds of iron and steel, but they are powerless against the union of ideas, they can only tighten it still more; and on the soft fibres of the brain is founded the unshakable base of the soundest Empires’” (Foucault quoting Servan in Discipline and Punish)
In what ways does this link to education? Other institutions? The current state of things? Are we starting to peek behind the curtain?
0126: Why External Motivators are a Must, and why that’s a problem.
#education #edreform #SOSchat #control
(Please, if what you find below is a waste of time, skip to the *; don’t waste your time on a fool’s attempt to make sense of the senseless. Cheers.)
I want to begin by stating that I am a proponent of a critical internal locus of control for human beings— that would, of course, include students. It’s important to use ‘critical’ as a qualifier, as well, because so much of what we think is internalized has been conditioned and now seems internal. Additionally, ample argument can be made that every action is made externally. By that I mean we are constantly responding to stimuli no matter how we intellectualize it. I will not try to tease out these complications, frankly that would be a trite go at rhetorical masturbation for which I do not have the time.
That said, external motivators are a must for our current educational model of skill, drill, and test to be effective. Students, and teachers, for that matter are not working on anything truly stimulating provided by the state. The curriculum is cold and pointless, schools function more as prisons than places of curious exploration, any attempts to find glimmers of hope are subdued quickly by the pacing guide, the examples are endless. External control is required when forcing someone to be a something. Education, as it is (arguably education in general), seeks to alter the natural flow of curiosity. It seeks to apply discipline to the mind, and discipline is important. Change, growth, transformation all require a level of discipline, a great deal of it, in fact. Intellectual growth, the building of skills, thinking, and so forth all require discipline. But, discipline in itself is not the problem. The problem is, at least, two-fold. First, in our system of institutional function, the discipline, the locus of control, is not returned to the individual without rendering it less that operative. Second, the current system requires a form of external control that will prevent resistance— the content is so numbing, and the structure so dehumanizing that any soul will and rightfully resist. As a result, external motivators are a must in schools, then people can wander aimlessly through the remainder of their existence from institution to institution seeking refuge from any lack of structure. This is not a phenomenon caused entirely by education, but is simply a part of the function of western society. But, back to school. Testing especially has required motivation to be more and more external and punitive. If it isn’t then quotas won’t be made, curriculum won’t be covered (understanding is not a consideration), and testing will not boom. The industry would crumble of we had kindergartens crawling around playing with blocks, and 8th grade biology classes spending several weeks dissecting frogs. The test must happen. That is the aim. All of life is a test— a standardized test. With all this testing, the control can never be returned to the individual. What would they do? Would they rebel? Not if you’ve destroyed the will too. So while the gradual release of responsibility is present in word, if the responsibility was never developed and nurtured, then it may never appear without intensive democratic intervention that seeks to liberate the colonialized mind and being.
*I quite possibly got lost in the circles of rhetoric above, the problems of our education systems and society are multifactorial and interrelated. So, in summation, without extreme external control our education system, with its current goals, would not function. Tests would never be bubbled, remediation and remediation specialists would have no place, reformers would have to do something else, the industry would change. The means is an end in itself. Control people from as early as possible, and they will belong to their controllers forever. Hopefully, they will never even noticed they’re being controlled. I mean what would the world be like if people went around asking questions and making choices? Reasonable, perhaps?
0031: If you can’t reach ‘em, drug ‘em. I guess.
I just finished carefully filling out a form that had the insignias of the America Academy of Pediatrics (dedicated to the health of all children), the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality, and McNeil Consumer and Specialty Pharmaceuticals— two health organizations and one corporation, good benevolent companies with children’s interest at heart. The goal, I’m assuming is to issue drugs to tame this rambunctious young black child. He is a handful, but drugging a child just doesn’t seem helpful. Perhaps, a behavioral intervention or some adjustment to the way he is being taught. I’ve made a few adjustments and seen improvements. He’s a genius of a kid, just not really interested in complying. And whose to say he should comply? He disrupts during whole group activity. He has energy. When he writes it’s clever and amazing. His writing is a little off color, a little blue. He has an adult sense of humor. But the syntax is amazing. He struggles in all of his classes, but should we drug him? Or, are we just too cheap and lazy to do anything else? I am not without blame. I haven’t learned to manage his behavior. I have neither forced him into compliance or broken his spirit. He is one of the few and proud who is refusing to be schooled. I admire his wit and commitment to doing what he sees fit. He questions absolutely everything. And yes he becomes inappropriate. But, he deserves a proper education. He is not “driven by a motor”. He is driven by his mind and his choices. They do not align with the state curriculum, but they are his.
He struggles in most of his classes. Maybe he struggles against them. I’ve encountered kids like this over the course of my career. Sometimes they make it; sometimes they’re made into victims. I hope my non-referral keeps him corporate-drug-free. I hope the system that serves him adjusts to him. Unfortunately, systems wants perfect sprockets that fit on their machines. If you can’t reach ‘em drug ‘em. I guess.