With Ferris Bueller Gifs, Because, Why Not?
I've noticed in all of the manipulative and abusive relationships (romantic or otherwise) I've encountered or observed in my lifetime, there's this one running "tactic" borderline sociopaths use to manipulate their partners' or friends' perceptions of them, and that is the idea of slowly and quietly creating an underlying problem that would have otherwise not been in existence, and then swooping in to "solve" it, be recognized as a hero, and gain some undeserved respect, trust, or love from their partners or friends.
For a little real-world application, I had a friend in high school who could never hang out with her friends because her significant other would give her some lame excuse just plausible enough for her to justify cancelling plans. Okay, cool. Eventually, though, this isolated her to the point where we all just sort of stopped inviting her, already knowing that she'd agree and have to cancel last minute. By the time she was isolated enough that we started talking to her about the fact that maybe this was a deliberate plan, she started to worry for herself, and before the worries could become conclusions, her significant other all invited us to participate in a surprise birthday party for her, which she saw as the grandest gesture he could have ever shown her, despite the fact that we wound up doing all of the planning, buying, and decorating, where he mainly just came up with the idea. But wouldn't you know? Every suspicion she had was shattered with this one grand appeal to emotion. When we tried to remind her that he was isolating her still, she brushed us off, because obviously that couldn't have been the case if he came up with this lavish surprise party!
He manufactured a problem, so that when we showed the slightest bit of discomfort with it, he could manufacture a half-baked "solution" that merely served to divert our attention away from the problem.
Take a deep breath.
In through your nose, and out through your mouth like a straw.
American School Districts manufacture problems, and when we show the slightest bit of discomfort with them, they manufacture half-baked "solutions" that merely serve to divert our attention away from the problem.
It didn't end well for my friend, and it's probably not going to end well for children in our school systems.
Consider the following progression of events, as I've observed it:
- Demand for adults "more capable of competing in our global economy" trickles down to become a demand for more rigid, academic structure in schools.
- More academia (learning what to think) means less play (learning how to think for yourself).
- Play time is stripped from scheduling.
- Recess is shortened.
- Due to their inhibited curiosities and essential childhood sensory deprivation, children become restless.
- Teachers view restless children as noncompliant, and feel as though these children make their job harder to perform.
- Teachers request parent intervention.
- Genuine parent concern, very little genuine conversation, plus teachers undereducated in child development (perhaps unknowingly) overreacting to regular childlike responses to lack of stimulation yields professional diagnoses based on false pretenses, since teachers' opinions are for some reason considered when supporting diagnoses.
- Diagnoses may come with medication.
- Medicating children when their brains do not require pharmacological intervention to function properly (some people do require such intervention) yields compliant, robot children, at the expense of various important aspects of personality, such as imagination, and willingness to engage in social situations.
- Parents rebel against medication, doctors, and sometimes science as a whole, rather than the misinformation and lack of teacher education that led to the diagnoses.
- Parents decide to put off or deny medication, while still accepting diagnoses as fact.
- Teachers formulate (consciously or subconsciously) opinions about the "special needs" children in their class and place a (conscious or subconscious) unfair focus on their behavior.
- Teachers implement public shaming, classroom control methods to curb behavior problems, exacerbating a general distrust in children of this system.
- Children, stripped of their freedom to play, talk, inquire, move, etc. begin "fidgeting".
- Teachers treat "fidgeting" like a personal attack on their teaching abilities and shut it down at all times.
- Teachers become so stressed about the children with "behavior issues" who "fidget" instead of "listening" to them, and brainstorm solutions to a problem that wouldn't exist if there was no demand for adults "more capable of competing in our global economy" trickling down to become a demand for more rigid, academic structure in schools.
- Teachers pitch ideas to funding organizations or school districts.
- School districts and funding organizations swoop down and bestow upon children pedal desks, so they can get their exercise while unknowingly being pawns in a grand scheme to improve our country's corporations' bottom lines down the road... and we're expected to applaud the innovation and ingenuity that led to this juncture.
In the Facebook comment thread I'm looking at for this article, the top 50 comments line up as follows:
- 24 comments tone-police the author for using an expletive, claiming that the idea is not valid or does not hold weight if it cannot be conveyed "respectfully" or without being "harsh".
- Tone policing is a fallacy. Effective advocacy is not polite. Effective advocacy does not accept "agree to disagree" as a solution. Effective advocacy does not accept that all opinions are valid. Effective advocacy is about doing what's right, and calling people out for this bull s&#t, not worrying that the people who need to be called out might get their feelings hurt. There's no non-painful way to tell someone that the way they are doing things is completely wrong. Planting the seeds of discomfort, or rattling the ivory tower a bit is far better conducive to change than "I see where you're coming from, and maybe you could possibly look at perhaps doing something slightly different, but that's my opinion, I'm not here to force you to do anything, and I don't want you to feel bad; I respect your opinion. We can agree to disagree". In my opinion, when children's wellbeing is at stake, there's no time for pleasantries, there's only time for advocacy and action, and neither are possible when you're walking on eggshells.
- 22 comments discuss how amazing this is for "some kids" and that it's not a replacement for recess, but it does help them stop fidgeting at their desks and get their energy out.
- If I had a dollar for how many times I'm told we should embrace some strange, stupid tactic on behalf of all children because it's anecdotally positive for this illustrious and mysterious group entitled "some kids", I'd be rich. It happened with my behavior charts article. "It works for some kids, so why not just embrace it?" Just like with the behavior charts, I have no doubt that it can do its alleged "job" for all kids. That doesn't make it right, acceptable, or good for children. Behavior charts are an unforthcoming way for teachers to outsource the most labor-intensive part of this job (facilitating social and emotional education) to a piece of paper on the wall to maintain a damaging construction of control. Pedal desks and other stupid fidget-busting technologies are an unforthcoming way for school districts to outsource the most time-intensive part of this world (letting children play and discover things on their own) to something that won't interrupt the rigid structure of their academic data dump to maintain a damaging construction of control.
- 4 comments address the fact that "if they're going to be stuck at desks all day, they might as well get some exercise".
- This is just so sad. The fact that people have resigned to the idea that we have absolutely no control over the fact that children are at desks eight hours a day, like mundane office robots. Do we want our children to have (a) the life skills to think for themselves and solve their own problems and engage in imaginative activities which better all of humanity or (b) the academic skills to know what to think in order to get a $16/hour financial services career with Comcast? Why is it that, in the grand scheme of things, some people would rather accept this manufactured problem because there's a manufactured solution now, rather than take a stand and say the problem isn't real? Is it a tragic side effect of tradition? Is it born out of a sort of jealousy that children should be subjected to what you were subjected to?
The expectations of children do not need to change. The expectations of their environments need to change. If a funding organization can agree to drop $12,000 on pedal desks, you can convince one to drop $6,000 on teacher training, a bunch of loose materials from thrift stores, the woods by your house, quality children's literature, and a professional aggregate of research to give to your district.
It might not work with the first try, but throwing up your hands and saying it's impossible or not worth it sure isn't doing children any good.