The Organic Sister linked to an article on her Twitter and I feel it deserves reposting. The article is called School Bullying: A Tragic Cost of Forced Schooling and Autocratic School Governance. Some of my favorite parts come at the end.
"…the much-touted D.A.R.E. program designed to make kids immune to the temptations of drugs has been shown time and again to be ineffective, and three years ago it was included, in an article published by the American Psychological Society, in a list of interventions that are more likely to cause harm than good."
I could have told you this when I was five. I’m glad someone besides me has actually put effort into trying to prove it.
"Bullying occurs regularly when people who have no political power and are ruled in top-down fashion by others are required by law or economic necessity to remain in that setting. It occurs regularly, for example, in prisons. Those who are bullied can’t escape, and they have no legislative or judicial power to confront the bullies. They may report bullying to the prison guards and warden, but the guards and warden may not know whom to believe and may have greater vested interest in hiding bullying than in publicizing it and dealing with it openly. Recently I read the acclaimed book by Chen Guidi and Wu Chuntau, Will the Boat Sink the Water?, about peasant life in modern day China. The peasants are not allowed to move off the land and they are governed, top down, by petty bureaucrats. The peasants have no political power and no due process of law, and so the bullies, who can best intimidate others, rise to the top. Should we be surprised to discover that at least some of our schoolchildren respond to forced confinement and dictatorial governance in the same manner as prisoners and Chinese peasants?"
Now, I have to admit that I don’t ever really remember feeling as though I were a prison inmate or a Chinese peasant when I was in school; however, I can definitely see the similarities.
"As a nation we decided long ago that there is no such thing as a benign dictatorship. To have a moral society the people who are governed must do the governing. That’s our foundational principle as a nation, and if our children are to be educated for democracy, wouldn’t it be nice if our schools, where children spend so much of their lives, were living embodiments of democracy?"
And this is just a beautiful sentiment. I love this. The author goes on to explain that he’s been involved with a school that does try to embody democracy and how well the principle works in practice. It sounds to me like he’s involved with a Sudbury School and just makes me even more interested in using one if I ever create spawn of my own.