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Compelled to Attend – Part Two of Three

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Compelled to Attend – Part Two of Three

By Linda Dobson

Can you think of a better way to insure that you will be “made” according to the dictates of others than by forcing you, by law, to appear at a government-funded, state-controlled institution where you spend a predetermined number of years as part of a crowd subject constant scrutiny and evaluation? No, I am not talking about prison. I refer to public school.

The following is Part 2 of three parts of “Compelled to Attend” from The Art of Education: Reclaiming Your Family, Community and Self by Linda Dobson, published by Home Education Press in 1995.


Helping a friend is "cheating."

This programming comes to you courtesy of the education institution representative closest to you – the teacher. This is not to accuse teachers of consciously conditioning you. They do their time in grade school, then move on to a college that not only espouses “indoctrination in accepted ideas,” but there they train to perpetuate the same in future American classrooms! Through the type of training teachers receive, this becomes an unquestioned and, optimistically, unconscious part of the job.

In teachers’ defense, statistics show one out of five leaves the profession within five years. The powers-that-be call it burn-out. I call it disillusionment. Living the life of an indoctrinator is not what they intended. Leading kids to the joy of learning, they discover, is absent from school agendas.

As for the teachers who stay, all that college time spent studying classroom management pays off as maintaining order and discipline become necessary priorities. Teacher-maintained discipline may keep the classrooms quiet and orderly, but it also delivers lots of thought-shaping. Consider just a few examples:

  • Helping a friend is “cheating”
  • An “institutional expert” should decide what and when you learn
  • Doing irrelevant, mind-numbing chores is good for you
  • You are not capable of evaluating your own work or worth
  • You are in competition with your classmates for your teacher’s limited time and attention
  • Answer, don’t ask questions
  • Time is too short to spend it listening to your ideas

Fortunately there’s usually only one teacher promoting these lessons in each classroom. But an equally insidious and important force shows up in greater numbers – your peers.

What are the criteria for choosing these very important influences on your life? Your peers happened to turn five or six about the same time you did, and their parents happened to move into the same neighborhood as yours chose. You wound up together in the same neighborhood school “because it was there.”

Of course you didn’t realize it at the time, but these fellow “little people” shared their sometimes less-than-correct knowledge (Moms swallow watermelon seeds then have babies), bigotries (all fill in a nationality or skin color stink), likes (I want green; Billy likes green), dislikes (Susan says spinach is awful; I don’t want any), family dysfunctions (every time he gets made he punches me!), and many more, bombarding your developing mind daily. The knowledge available within the experience of a fellow five year-old, however, does little to advance your academic career and less to guide to toward maturity. The old cliché about the blind leading the blind was written, I suspect, by an elementary school teacher eavesdropping on student conversations on the playground.


End of Part Two; Part Three Soon!

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