Saturday, March 29, 2008

Arrogance

In a comment on my last post, Charley, whose views on public education differs a tad bit from my own, recommended that I read a couple of pieces by John Taylor Gatto, a former New York City teacher of the year. One was called "Why Schools Don't Educate," and the other one was "Against School: How Public Education Cripples Our Kids, and Why." I came away impressed with Gatto's intelligence, and I assume he was probably a pretty good teacher. But I feel strongly that the picture he paints of our pubic education system is horribly inaccurate, and quite frankly, I resented most of what he had to say.

In "Why Schools Don't Educate," which I assume is the speech he gave in accepting his teacher of the year award, Gatto started out graciously enough:

I accept this award on behalf of all the fine teachers I've known over the years who've struggled to make their transactions with children honorable ones, men and women who are never complacent, always questioning, always wrestling to define and redefine endlessly what the word "education" should mean. A Teacher of the Year is not the best teacher around, those people are too quiet to be easily uncovered, but he is a standard-bearer, symbolic of these private people who spend their lives gladly in the service of children. This is their award as well as mine.


I'm not sure which teachers he's talking about there, but I assume it's not many of us, because that's the last positive thing he has to say about anything in public education. I would imagine that people like my friend Daniel Simms are thrilled that Gatto basically argues that the entire purpose of public education has been a plot by some nameless entities above us all to keep the masses in their place:

We don't need Karl Marx's conception of a grand warfare between the classes to see that it is in the interest of complex management, economic or political, to dumb people down, to demoralize them, to divide them from one another, and to discard them if they don't conform...But the motives behind the disgusting decisions that bring about these ends need not be class-based at all. They can stem purely from fear, or from the by now familiar belief that "efficiency" is the paramount virtue, rather than love, liberty, laughter, or hope. Above all, they can stem from simple greed...

We must wake up to what our schools really are: laboratories of experimentation on young minds, drill centers for the habits and attitudes that corporate society demands. Mandatory education serves children only incidentally; its real purpose is to turn them into servants.


Now, I just finished Diane Ravitch's history on public education, and I got the impression that there had been a lot of mistakes made, but I completely missed the idea that Gatto is selling in his history. I don't know how anyone could spend any time in a public school these days and come to the conclusion that we are making kids too compliant. And as if it isn't bad enough that public education is simply there to turn young people into servants, Gatto also blames public education for nearly all of society's ills:

Think of the things that are killing us as a nation - narcotic drugs, brainless competition, recreational sex, the pornography of violence, gambling, alcohol, and the worst pornography of all - lives devoted to buying things, accumulation as a philosophy - all of them are addictions of dependent personalities, and that is what our brand of schooling must inevitably produce...

Maturity has by now been banished from nearly every aspect of our lives. Easy divorce laws have removed the need to work at relationships; easy credit has removed the need for fiscal self-control; easy entertainment has removed the need to learn to entertain oneself; easy answers have removed the need to ask questions. We have become a nation of children, happy to surrender our judgments and our wills to political exhortations and commercial blandishments that would insult actual adults. We buy televisions, and then we buy the things we see on the television. We buy computers, and then we buy the things we see on the computer. We buy $150 sneakers whether we need them or not, and when they fall apart too soon we buy another pair. We drive SUVs and believe the lie that they constitute a kind of life insurance, even when we're upside-down in them. And, worst of all, we don't bat an eye when Ari Fleischer tells us to "be careful what you say," even if we remember having been told somewhere back in school that America is the land of the free. We simply buy that one too. Our schooling, as intended, has seen to it.


My first question regarding Gatto's point of view is this: If that was the way he felt, why did he stay in the field for thirty years? Wouldn't the honorable thing to do have been to resign and find something else to do?

There is only one answer that I can think of, and it is that Gatto saw himself as having a messianic duty to save as many kids as possible from those of us who are unwitting saps and simply cogs in the machine. I have read books by "progressive" educators before who have the same mentality, and I am turned off by it. The arrogance of Gatto and other "expert" teachers like him make me want to vomit. They seem to be saying, "Those few teachers who do things like me are wonderful and caring and saving kids from the system. The rest of you are all uncaring, inept, educational Neanderthals." Gatto gives a couple of examples of things we should be doing as teachers, but I didn't exactly get how I'm supposed to apply his ideas. I think maybe we're just supposed to wing it.

During my career as a teacher I have seen educators with greatly varying styles be successful with them. Quite frankly, the ones who have most consistently been successful have been the ones with the most order and discipline in their classes, and by the end of the year they are often the most popular with their students. Unless I am completely misreading him, these are the teachers that Gatto seems to have the most disdain for. But, on the other hand, I've also seen teachers who use so-called progressive methods be very successful. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that one size does not fit all.

Unlike Gatto, I do not see public schools as prisons. Do I ever get frustrated? You betcha! But nearly every day that I leave my house and head for school, I feel pretty good about it. I see our school as a place of fantastic opportunity for young people. I have seen and continue to see wonderful kids excel in academics, sports, and the arts. I have seen and continue to see kids in our hallways with a spring in their step, and smiles on their faces. Is that true for all kids in public schools? Obviously not. In fact, it's not true for enough of them. But it is true for most of the kids who come to school with the right attitude--the kids who have the desire to take advantage of the opportunity in front of them. If that's a prison, then it's one helluva nice one, and despite all the complaining I do and the frustrations that I feel, there's no place I'd rather be. The good kids we have make it more than worth it. I don't see myself as the educational messiah, but the hope that I'm making a small difference in some of their lives gives me a pretty good feeling.

16 Comments:

Blogger Corygon Trail said...

Gatto does make outstanding points on the non-educational side of life. Constant entertainment from TV, computers, cell phones, etc. I think are the real bane of contemporary education. It's a constant struggle to keep kids motivated on work, paying attention in class, taking notes, etc. when the only reward some are seeking (if they're seeking any) is a grade. The rest of their lives, whether real or lived vicariously through entertainment--is much more gratifying.

That being said, I disagree with pretty much everything else he writes about here. He mentions individuals (Edison, Franklin, etc.) that rose to greatness despite being forced into compulsory education. He--like everyone else who completely disparages publication education--gives no honor to the countless people who have made amazing progress in every field of science, arts, and business in every decade of American History. Did America's wheels fall off when compulsory education came into play? Quite the contrary. I'm not smart (or to use your word, Dennis, arrogant) to say that the US became a superpower because of pub ed, but our place in the world certainly didn't suffer from it.

It really all comes down to something that you preach all the time, Dennis, and which I whole-heartedly agree on: a desire to learn. I'm a high school teacher, so I'm not wizened in the when or how people lose a love of learning in the early years. But I do know that children come to school at different levels, and that when a child enters first grade already knowing how to read because of their parents' teachings, odds are that they're going to do better in the rest of their schooling than their classmate who isn't at that level. Fundamentally, it's not the walls or the memorization or anything else that causes most problems--it's simply behind behind at the beginning. To take Gatto to task, there are millions of publicly educated adults who are not bored, who don't feel confined by the walls of a school, because they used school to heighten their own desire for discovery.

Of course, all his philosophical flim-flam carries no weight without logical ideas for improvements. And the fact that schools do nothing but breed the idea to not question the authority is quite laughable, and I would be interested to see how he, as a former inner-city teacher, came to that conclusion.

3/29/2008 2:22 PM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

"Schools do nothing but breed the idea to not question the authority is quite laughable, and I would be interested to see how he, as a former inner-city teacher, came to that conclusion."

A big "Amen!" to that, Corygon!

3/29/2008 3:24 PM  
Blogger din819go said...

As a parent who has read both Gatto's book "the underground history...", got half-way through Charlotte Iserbyt's book "the deliberate dumbing down..." and have been actively involved in public education...I have to state I believe the monopoly of public education is its own worse enemy.

Lack of quality/qualified teachers. The biggest problem in our district is with its math teachers. This starts in third grade when the more advanced math concepts are starting to be introduced. We have teachers in the classroom with a horrible general ed degree that have never taken a math class or more than one in their lives. If children in third grade do not have a qualified math teacher they will be lost once they get to middle school and high school (same concept if they cannot read by third grade). I do believe ed schools have finally woken to the fact that they need to raise the standards for entering students and require they get a degree in liberal arts with an education minor. I do believe some ed schools are following the trend to make getting an education degree a five year program where the fifth year is spent in the classroom as the lead teacher. The student is then critiqued before they are licensed to teach. This is great. However, what to do about the ill-trained teachers in the schools now that you cannot terminate or top-grade? (Other comments on this below)

Discipline...what discipline? Kids at all ages need boundries (yes, they loosen as they age and prove themselves trustworthy) yet discipline in almost every form except ISS and OSS are sorely lacking in many if not most schools in my district starting with elementary schools. Teachers need to know how to maintain discipline in a way that keeps kids excited about learning.

Kids are born curious and want to learn, explore, grow, etc (the number of why questions I have received over the past 19 years have been incredible!). However, I believe education and educators destroy this natural curiosity in our kids. Why do you think the drop out rate is so high? The kids are no engage in what should be an active learning environment ("The Courage to Teach" - wow, what an idea!!) My kids understand the importance of education but they have become very cynical because of the bad teachers they have had primarily in their middle school and high school years. I believe involved parents do more to keep their kids dreams alive and help them understand the supposed importance of a formal education (I am truly having my doubts) than most teachers/educators.

Educators for the most part and the vast majority of the people in the field have been in education all their lives. They do not know how the real world operates. They are protected by a horribly damaging and unreal system of tenure (it takes years I mean 3, 4, 5 years to fire a teacher in my district -- think about the damage to the kids (and morale of others in the same building) while that teacher is allowed to stay in the classroom!!)

The quality of textbooks -- what quality? So many of them are out of date. Heck, there are not enough for all students at the start of the school year.

Teachers -- the quality is sorely lacking even in my younger son's top 100 public academic magnet high school! They do not know how to teach (i.e. engage the student in the topic at hand, make it understandable for kids at different levels of interest and abilities, etc), they are publicly stating to the kids how they better "get it" because they want to keep their job (since when has it been all about the adults?)

It does seem that public education is all about the adults -- from the school board to the classroom (in most cases) the students and their families are an after thought. I have never seen a group of people jump blindly from one fad to the next following the money rather than stepping back and truly assessing what is wrong, what is right and what is needed to improve before accepting the next grant to do the latest and greatest fad which will be proven in three years NOT to work...Geez how blind can one group be?

Solution? Get all the crap that is not related to education out of the schools. What is this? The fact that in urban districts the schools are mother, father, chief bottle washer, cook and baby-sitter. This is the role of the family, church and community.

Engage in an active learning environment. Yes, rote memorizaton and multiplication drills are critical, too. Stop the use of calculators (whose hair brain idea was this?) Open more voc/tech opportunities for the students so those that do not want to go to college exit school with marketable skills. (We do not need as many kids going to college as the public is being force feed. Education has become a huge money racket and again the needs of the kids are missing!) Hire quality teachers including those from the real world with real world skills in the subject being taught -- all of them! These people (yes, they need to be the right people) can actively engage and connect with the kids.

Remember to put the needs of the kids first! After all, the students and their families are the clients of education, right???

Maybe my views are skewed in the opinion of most. I was ready to drop out of school at age 13. An incredible private high school turned me on to learning. I spent two years in "formal/normal" college and then was ready to drop out until I went full time with my current employer of 34 years. I learned they would pay for my education and I knew I needed a degree to advance. So...I spent four years in college while working full time to comlete my degree. I have advanced and we are constantly being asked to learn new things and lead our teams through the changes. None of these skills were learned in college!

I stubbled across your blog when I was cleaning out my education blogs. I will save yours and read it with interest.

Just wanted to share an engaged parent's point of view. Thank you --

3/30/2008 5:15 AM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Wow, DIN819GO, that was quite a comment! Thank you for the time and thought you put into it. You might be surprised by the fact that I agree with much of what you said. We DO have problems in public schools, and although I'm going strictly by what you say, it sounds like they are pretty bad in your district.

Since you've just come across my blog, I want you to know that there are two changes that I am constantly promoting. The first one is that I think we must make it easier for principals to keep their best teachers and get rid of the worst ones. I am opposed to our tenure and seniority systems. Although, you seem to think there are a lot more bad teachers than I do, I know they exist, and I believe it should be a lot easier to get rid of them. I'm only one person, but I'm doing what I can.

I also believe we must make it easier for teachers to remove disruptive kids and kids who refuse to work from our classes. Your concern about discipline is well-founded, and the basic problem is that we have no "bottom line" in dealing with kids who don't care. Something must be done to separate them from kids who actually want to learn. I know you have some other ideas, but I firmly believe that if we did these two things, public education would improve dramatically.

3/30/2008 6:10 AM  
Blogger Roger Sweeny said...

din819go,

Being a parent and a high school teacher, I read your comment with interest.

Teachers need to know how to maintain discipline in a way that keeps kids excited about learning.

I can't disagree, but I found myself thinking that statement was as useful as saying, "If people just loved each other instead of hating, there'd be no more war." Perhaps because of your next sentence.

Kids are born curious and want to learn, explore, grow, etc (the number of why questions I have received over the past 19 years have been incredible!).

True. Young kids want to know all sorts of things about how the world works. Once they hit puberty, they lost interest in a lot of that but gain intense interest in various other things. Unfortunately, few of those things are what we teach.

For most of them, history is boring and irrelevant, things that happened to strange people before they were born. Math is complicated and unnecessary. Science has some fun things but is largely unfamiliar words (and familiar words used in unfamiliar ways). Literature? Why would I want to take the time and effort to read something when I could watch? Foreign language? Hey, I speak English. I'm never going to have to know anything else.

So why do we try to interest them in things they aren't very interested in. Because of something else you say.

Remember to put the needs of the kids first!

We try to do that in two ways.

One: We have all heard of the myriad studies that say, "The more schooling a person has, on average the more money that person makes." In the United States today, the upper range of that schooling means a college diploma or beyond. Parents want us to "prepare my child for college" and we want to, also. So we try to teach pre-college academics, whether the students care or not.

Two: Most people in the business believe you become a better person if you are exposed to history, math, literature, etc. The students may not want it but they need it.

All kids are interested in some things we teach, and some kids are interested in a lot of them. But most of them are there because it's expected of them, because their peers are there, and because they know not having the various certifications will close off opportunities for them.

No doubt they would be better students if they realized that in many good jobs,

we are constantly being asked to learn new things and lead our teams through the changes.

Though perhaps not if they also believed,

None of these skills were learned in college!

3/30/2008 7:01 AM  
Blogger Chaz said...

First, to compare an urban public school with a private school is like comparing apples to oranges. Private schools have lower class sizes, involved parents (they are paying for an education), and few discipline problems (these children are encouraged to leave the school or expect to fail). One private school had 160 incoming freshman and only 70 made it to their sophomore year. What happened to the 90 students? I'm sure you can guess.

Second, teacher of the year is more a popularity contest. pushed by self-intrrest by a few people associated with the teacher. I am not impressed by such awards. My students' opinions are more important than what an administrator thinks.

Finally, I question somebody who kept quiet while in the classroom and now all of a sudden is active in education policy while no longer in the classroom.

3/30/2008 3:01 PM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Chaz, I definitely agree with you on those "of the year" awards. They sound great, but are overrated. I mean, how do you or I or anyone know what somebody else is doing in their classroom?

3/30/2008 3:11 PM  
Blogger Charley said...

OK...Gatto's a New Yorker and we all know that all New Yorkers are rude, arrogant, blatant, and in-your-face! ;-)

Maybe those weren't the best of his writings to start you out on...sorry. But since you read a history of public education from one source, maybe you should read the one from his. It's on his website and available for free. Arrogance and pronouncements aside, I have a hard time arguing with his sources....

As for a compliant populace...

Have you looked at your students lately as a group? They all dress alike! Hollister, American Eagle, Abercrombie and Fitch. They are walking billboards! Why? Several years ago my eldest joined the high school alpine ski team. After she went to the first meeting, she remarked, "Dad, I'm SO glad I'm homeschooled. Even though the girls were nice, they were all cookie-cutters of each other. They dressed the same, they talked of the same subjects (boys, makeup, and shopping), they spoke alike, and they acted alike. I'm glad I'm free to be myself...."

While you live in a small town, how many would be mall rats if they could? How carefully is the consumer mentality cultivated in their lives? How important is it for them to have the "latest" in fashion and technology...just because that is what it is: the latest?

Granted, that is outward expression.

But what about attitudes and ideas? How much REAL individuality is there? The few exceptions aside, how many of the majority seriously have clear, individual thought? How many understand what it means to be statist? How many understand what liberty really is? How many understand what their responsibilities under the American form of government are?

How many think they should turn to the government to solve any problem that comes up in life?

How many are individual enough to acquire true wisdom and to muse upon what kind of adult they are aiming to become? Have they even thought about it?

Or...how many are so peer-dependent they can't get beyond today and the requirements of being "cool" in the eyes of the other fools (Bible's word, not mine) they hang with each and every day?

Dennis, I will grant you that you teach in a smaller town and thus it might not be this bad. But trust me when I say it is this bad in the larger schools....

3/30/2008 8:29 PM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Charley, I read your comment this morning, but I didn't have time to reply. I just got home from school, and my last class is Sociology. Guess what subject we started on today? Education. It's a relatively small class, so there is a lot of discussion. When we talked about trends in education today, one of the trends I brought up is homeschooling. You said that your daughter said she was very happy that she was homeschooled, and I believe you. This group had very different attitudes. One student said, "Why would anyone ever do that?" You probably won't believe this, but I actually tried to deal with this as fairly as I could. I started to say that the reputation of public education had been taking some pretty heavy hits for the past several years, and that a lot of people do it for religious reasons, but then I was interrupted by one young man sitting in the front. He said he was homeschooled for two years, and he absolutely hated it. I say this only to point out that not everyone who has been homeschooled has been enthralled with the experience.

When you say that public school kids have no individuality, I think you unfairly putting them all in the same pot. My students actually started to do the same thing. One of the students said that homeschooled kids have absolutely no social skills, and at first there was agreement. But then other students started to name homeschooled friends of theirs who do perfectly well socially.

In any case, many people who homeschool their kids are Christian fundamentalists. Public school kids all think alike? Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

3/31/2008 2:54 PM  
Blogger Charley said...

Dennis,

The point of the story about my daughter wasn't that she was happy being educated at home, but that she recognized the uniformity of the other girls and was happy she was free to be herself.

Given that these kids have (all but one) been in public schools their whole lives, they consider that "normal." So I would consider their response to the homeschooling question to be uniform...and uniformly ignorant to what educating at home actually entails. (And I believe you when you say you tried to treat it as fairly as you could...but I'm willing to bet the overall consensus at the end of the discussion was that public school was "normal" and "superior.")

Obviously I don't know the young man who had been homeschooled, but I'm willing to guess he had most of his time in public school. Then his parents pulled him out and made the typical mistake of most new homeschoolers...they brought "school" home. In other words, they attempted to recreate what was happening in the group classroom at home. That never works. The mom burns out and the kids hate it. Been there; done that, to include whiteboard, desks, flag, and Pledge of Allegiance! On top of that, he was probably peer-dependent and hated being away from his peers. No wonder it was a bad experience for him.

I didn't say the kids have no individuality. I said, for the most part, they are uniform in their thinking and in their peer-dominated culture. I'm not talking about opinions (you know the old saying about opinions...too crude to repeat here), but rather about actual deep thought. For instance, the comment about social skills is a parroting of the typical adult concern about homeschooled kids. It reflects no thought as to what actual socialization is nor to its goal.

(I'm going to use the word "all" in the next paragraph. Please take it for what I mean..."the vast majority.")

I'm willing to bet that if you go beyond opinions, you will find uniformity of thought on a basic level. They will all be well informed on all aspects of pop culture. They will all think the global warming debate is settled. (How many times have they been required to see Gore's propaganda movie without any critical thought to what was presented??) They will all have similar opinions on sex. They will all think "tolerance" is the ultimate virtue. They will reject any idea that there is absolute truth, except that it is absolutely right to excoriate anyone who believes in absolutes! They will all think government is there to solve societal problems (this is a problem on BOTH the left and the right these days). None will have a clue to what liberty means or what responsibilities it demands from them.

While there is a large contingent of Christians who educate at home, the backgrounds and beliefs of homeschooling families crosses all social, economic, and cultural boundaries.

And yes, I still hold that, opinions aside, the deeply held beliefs of most public schooled kids are fairly uniform.

Charley
HomeDiscipling Dad Blog

3/31/2008 8:05 PM  
Anonymous daniel simms said...

The central purpose of public education IS to make children into obedient servants of the state. Perhaps that's not your goal, Dennis, but in the big picture that is the way it is. And it's working. (It may not be your goal, Dennis, but you're not in charge. The elite are in charge. They call the shots and you must obey.)

To me, one of the worst forms of arrogance is holding that one has the right to use the police power of the state to impose their way of life on other individuals. Such people always use reasons such as "it's for your own good" or "it's in the best interests of society", or other like nonsense. And, of course, these ideas are always funded through government confiscation. People who oppose these ideas are called selfish or mean-spirited (or arrogant). This is how democracy works. It is felt that we must all sacrifice ourselves for the good of society. The idea that individuals have a right to live for their own happiness doesn't have much support these days.

You probably get the idea that I don't think much of democracy. Well, I don't. The best description I ever heard of democracy is that it's "three wolves and a sheep deciding what's for dinner." Democracy is just another form of might makes right. It turns people into slaves.

3/31/2008 8:23 PM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Charley, you couldn't be more wrong about kids' opinions on global warming, tolerance, and the role of government. On all of these things their views are all over the place. (Global warming? Heck, I'm from northern Minnesota. I say let's give it a try! :))

Regarding the statement made in my class that homeschooling kids have no social skills, I was actually quite proud of my kids, because they weren't closed-minded at all. As I said in the last comment, other students began to chime in with examples of homeschooled kids who had very good social skills, and the others in the class had to agree. The initial opinion ended up being overturned.

Daniel, I have to say that I got a chuckle out of your definition of democracy. I can only respond by using Winston Churchill's statement that it's the worst system in the world--except for all the other ones. Between you and Charley, you give the impression that our kids are being indoctrinated into this pro-big government mindset. You are wrong on that. In fact, studies have shown that kids in high school are relatively conservative in their views. When they go to college, they tend to become more liberal. If they go to graduate school, they become even more liberal, and those who go to the most prestigious colleges are the most liberal of all. If there is any indoctrination going on to a pro-government position, it's being done in the colleges, and not in K-12 education.

4/01/2008 4:55 AM  
Anonymous daniel simms said...

Dennis, conservatives are just as pro-government as liberals. They just have different schemes that they favor. I would think that the last seven years has shown that to be true.

I also like what Lysander Spooner has to say about our constitution in his essay "No Treason No. 6: The Constitution of No Authority".
He says: "The ostensible supporters of the Constitution, like the ostensible supporters of most other governments, are made up of three classes, viz.:1. Knaves, a numerous and active class, who see in the government an instrument which they can use for their own aggrandizement or wealth. 2. Dupes - a large class, no doubt - each of whom, because he is allowed one voice out of millions in deciding what he may do with his own person and his own property, and because he is permitted to have the same voice in robbing, enslaving, and murdering others, that others have in robbing, enslaving, and murdering himself, is stupid enough to imagine that he is a "free man," a "sovereign"; that this is "a free government"; "a government of equal rights," "the best government on earth," and such like absurdities. 3. A class who have some appreciation of the evils of government, but either do not see how to get rid of them, or do not choose to so far sacrifice their private interests as to give themselves seriously and earnestly to the work of making a change."

Have you ever read any Lysander Spooner, Dennis? As a teacher of American history, you should really get Spooner's perspective on things.

4/01/2008 9:53 AM  
Anonymous Ian H. said...

Charley - does the fact that most adults also hold most of the same beliefs you listed have any play? A society is generally a group of people that think similarly enough to accomplish something together because they are all moving in relatively the same direction. Just because you personally hold differing opinions on those subjects (and I do too) doesn't mean that it's wrong for the majority of people (young and old) to agree with a consensus decision on them.

Daniel - unless you're able to propose an alternative form of government capable of effectively managing the lives and fortunes of 300 million people, I'm not sure what you're trying to say. Yes, there are problems with democracy - some of them have been recognised since its institution (Montesquieu's "la pouvoir doit surveiller la pouvoir" is a great example), and for the most part, checks and balances exist in the system in order to frustrate the most egregious offences possible under democracy. But to say the whole system is rotten to the core and ought to be dismantled is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

4/02/2008 7:22 AM  
Anonymous daniel simms said...

Now, Ian, why should the government try to manage the lives and fortunes of 300 million people, or even 100 people? The alternative I propose is a society made up of voluntary associations, which individuals can form, join, or leave at their own discretion. These associations would be based on the consent of the individuals who are members. This doesn't mean that individuals would be free to abuse the life, liberty and property of other individuals. It means that individuals would be free to persue their own forms of industry and improvements and happiness, with their only obligation to respect the equal rights of other individuals.

4/02/2008 10:13 AM  
Blogger Charley said...

Ian..."Just because you personally hold differing opinions on those subjects (and I do too) doesn't mean that it's wrong for the majority of people (young and old) to agree with a consensus decision on them." It depends on how they arrived at those opinions. Were they systematically propagandized as they went through a mandatory school system? Were they systematically propagandized by constant bombardment of these ideas from popular media?

Let's face it...children don't do a whole lot of original thinking...especially those who are overly enamoured with pop culture and peer-acceptance.

Charley

4/02/2008 2:50 PM  

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