The War on Kids–it’s brutal.
June 13, 2012 Leave a comment
Another Documentary Review!!! But this one is a bit more positive. (I wish this was my big kid job!)
I’m watching it as I read this, so it might take a turn for the worst, but it’s so good. The War on Kids. Oh, so good. I’m biased, because of the work I do and my love for the work I do and my little soapbox, that I try to keep myself off of, because I know how annoying soapboxes can be.
The doc briefly covers a number of topics, (so many and so briefly that I would like to see the doc turned into a series) including Zero Tolerance Policies (for violence and drugs), the School to Prison Pipeline (http://www.aclu.org/racial-justice/school-prison-pipeline-talking-points), the psychological effects of school surveillance, education and corporate curriculum, diagnosis/psychiatric medication for children, teacher/faculty bullying of children, and several more. The doc interviews individuals from various child-centered professions, including teachers, pediatricians, and school board members.
The doc is pretty low quality, but the people interviewed are very passionate and make a lot of good points. In one section, various teachers and school officials are talking about how their curriculum is given to them by the state, rather than individually created. This means, that freedom is taken away from teachers as well as students to think for themselves, to find creative solutions, and to ask difficulty questions. To me, this answers the questions “Why are kids so complicit and so lazy? Why can’t kids think for themselves?” Well, because we never teach them to, and even that natural impulse to think creatively is squelched as soon as it begins to develop. Those neural connections are never made and therefore the skill is never developed. Soapbox time: teaching to standardized tests, corporate curricula (sold by Scholastic, or whatever other company has a contact with the school district and state), pushing children through lessons without checking for comprehension, disallowing or shaming students that question what they are being taught are all what make children hate school. They are not allowed to be creative, to think “outside the box,” to stop the teacher when they don’t understand, to ask about something they learned somewhere else, to point out when things are either inconsistent or flat out lies.
For a brief section, they talk about how this type of education impacts adult lives and the ability to participate in democracy. One of the individuals in the doc points out how junior and high school school papers, newspapers, and other writings are so highly censored. What they can and cannot say, the opinions expressed are completely regulated. So, when they get out of school, when they become adults, why would they think this kind of censorship is wrong? Why wouldn’t they think being told what to think is normal? In one of the schools I worked with at one point, the Government class was assigned to write a letter to their congressman about a bill that was being presented. The students were told exactly what side to support and what points to include in the letter. What the FUUUUCCKKKK!!!!!!! That’s so fucking insulting to these students!!!! That is a horrible assignment!!!!!! Writing a letter to your congressman? Yes, good. More people should. But telling them what to say? Dear teachers, that is brainwashing. That is not encouraging free thought or critical thinking. Several students reported they did not feel comfortable with this assignment, but were forced to do it anyway.
In the past, I have encouraged students to question what their teachers taught them, and even pointed them to things that they might find interesting (Howard Zinn, anyone? Writings on Disobedience is a good primer for teens, and less intimidating than A People’s History).
Main point: every system in place for kids and adolescents is broken. They are too over controlled. They’re not allowed to make mistakes because they’re too over-surveilled. Their curriculum is written by corporations and states, with no wiggle room for individuation or creativity or accommodation for learning styles. They’re over-medicated and sedated within an inch of their lives. Bah. I would hate to be a kid today. Because they’re not allowed to be people. They’re forced to be automatons. And then we, as adults, complain and wonder why they suck at life. Well, because they’re not taught how to live or how to be individuals.