Educational Violence

In General on 17/10/2005 at 1:42 pm

“If students are being put through standardized testing and being forced to submit to institutionally defined learning objectives without their informed consent, that is violence. To what extent is any given educator an agent of violence? Why is the foundation of our educational institutions one of control and performance rather than love and respect? What kind of world are we bringing into being this way?”

apcampbell – violence in the classroom

  1. I’m not sure I agree with the definition of violence cited here.
    I’m not saying I agree with hi-stakes standardized tests. But it seems if I want to be a member of the “club,” i.e., those with a degree or diploma, I have to conform to some degree. In many ways, graduating from a school is similar to joining a guild in the thirteenth century. It does seem particularly unfair to those students who are not necessarily good at reading or writing, but have different talents, abilities and gifts.
    I agree that we need more love and respect in the classroom, but how do we hold students accountable for learning their times tables or long division? Do we simply wait and see if they will get it on their own accord? Stress works in at least two ways; it can be motivating or debilitating. We are bringing students into an evolutionary, ever-changing world, where it appears, in many cases, that the strong survive and the weak become marginalized. I’m not exactly sure how we can correct that. Since I plan to work with classroom teachers, it is my goal to have them start by thinking critically about themselves and what they are doing in the classroom. It is only one small step, but we gotta start somewhere.

  2. I’m sorry, but this is just so much PC nonsense spouted by someone who has probably never witnessed – or been a victim of – REAL violence.

  3. Interesting perspectives guys, guess I kind of copped out by not actually annotating this but I thought that the whole post was so interesting in it’s own right, and I find Freire so intoxicating, that I guess this was more of a ‘check this’ kinda posting which now you;re making me think about… darn ya ;)

    I’m split, to tell you the truth… I remember Jeremy Williams talking about the futility of examinations and fully agreeing with him but at the same time (and in particular afterwards with the help of some other perspectives) thinking that there is value in the ‘challenge’, the ‘event’ and the simulation of real life difficult tasks in these contexts.

    Here’s a 9AM quick-draw thoughts pile:

    -Schools can and do inflict exactly what I would call violence on a lot of people, much more terrible, in many ways, than some acts of physical violence
    -Standardised assessment testing for pretty much anyone under the age of 16 is a bit of a joke if ya ask me.
    -I agree with Aaron entirely when he talks about negotiation and direction, OK there are some things that are best learnt by rote (try any craft or trade to a degree for an example) but when it comes to, say, University entrance or diploma / degree level or even award courses for 16 year olds then the thing that drives this standardisation is not pedagogy, it’s more efficiency, stupidity, laziness, prejudice and economy.

    Perhaps this is the post I should’ve written yesterday!

  4. Having now read Aaron’s original post and the comments, let me back off a from the “PC nonsense” comment since Aaron has backed off from his characterization of standardized testing as “violence”. I’ve got more to say, but I’ll have to say it later.

  5. I put in my 2 cents worth commenting on Aaron’s original post, but James I think you’ve touched on something with your “I find Freire so intoxicating” statement: this intoxication leads us towards intemperate use of language that, tactically, backfires. Using the word violence in this context only provides ammunition to those who will fight tooth and nail to maintain the status quo. Our mission is to change things, not just talk about it, and although we’ve all gotten drunk at times with anger and indignation, we need to craft a meticulous and sober campaign if we’re to be effective change agents. Using the word violence in this way will alienate a large part of our audience, and resonates only with the already-converted.

  6. Sigh, very good point.

  7. Words are important. They shape perception, and perception contributes significantly to reality. (My bias is showing, I know. :-) Freire has some really good things to say, but keep context in mind. 21st-century America is not mid-late 20th-century South America. There’s oppression, and then there’s oppression.

    NCLB has its problems, no question. As I posted at Aaron’s site, standardized testing is at best an artificial and very imperfect measure. But at least it’s a start towards measuring. What can be measured can be improved. Even a poor effort is better than none at all, right?