Phædrus' Argument

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6 thoughts on “Phædrus' Argument”

  1. WOW! I’d forgotton that book. Thanks for putting that thought process up in front of me once again. I want to ponder it a little longer in view of what has been going on in our non-graded portfolio based charter school. It was our vision until we accepted public moneys and then . . . the carrots, mules, and carts began to roll.

  2. “The student’s biggest problem was a slave mentality which had been built into him by years of carrot-and- whip grading, a mule mentality which said, “If you don’t whip me, I won’t work.” He didn’t get whipped. He didn’t work. ”
    and the teachers’ biggest problem is a master mentality which had been built by the same system, and which now put him holding the carrot and the whip; a position which filled him with power and joy after decades of being the slave. The whip and carrot he held blinded him to the idea that any other system might allow everyone to succeed, not just the rare few who survived slavery.
    with love,
    Laurie

  3. Laurie that is a brilliant point to make. And we who would not bite into such a role of slave driver teacher would then threaten those who do. No wonder we clash with our colleagues – we threaten their power. By offering shared reciprocal good will to our students, we challenge them to lay down the whip as well. The more I do this, the more I think that most traditional teachers are just scared. They are just scared. But it’s not the kind of fear that drives Chris to overwork. He will get over that, and soon. His fear is good fear, the fear of people who know what is at stake in these strange-ass TPRS wars. But those other people who have forced us to shut this blog down to the public are in their fear driven patterns for their entire careers. They are looking for people like our colleague who just decided to quit to put in their crosshairs do that they don’t have to take a meditative look on the bullshit they offer in their own classrooms. And, a point I have made many times – without those four percenters, they are screwed. So jen’s comment today on John’s post carries even more meaning. When kids start hearing the message from the East brought by Kumar, and kids start asking questions like the one jen cited:
    “How do I stop when I have so many things I am forced to do by my parents and teachers?”
    Then we may live more and more simply as teachers, so that our kids can simply live.

  4. Thanks Brian for sending that to Ben, and thanks Ben to posting it. I think this book just went up several positions on the “to read” list. It speaks of Chomsky, Gatto, Dewey, Kohn, Quinn, brave dudes who lead us to the root (radical) problems of our society.

    1. You’re welcome. I recently finished it, turned the book over and begin again – this time with my pencil in hand, underlining passage after passage of profound thinking that drives the book forward. It all really starts after about the first 100 pages or so. Don’t be fooled by the quiet beginning. Careful pacing is everything to the author/narrator. Case in point was a quote from a part I read today:
      “The conversations’s pace intrigues me. It isn’t intended to go anywhere, just fill the time of day. I haven’t heard steady slow-paced conversation like that since the thirties when my grandfather and great-grandfather and uncles and great-uncles used to talk like that: on and on and on with no point or purpose other than to fill time, like the rocking of a chair.”

  5. …the conversations’s pace intrigues me….
    That is the art part. We are charged with bringing the art back into conversation, and with teenagers yet. We can do it. We can honor our ancestors. We can bring those great days of living slowly, sharing ideas slowly, the art of conversation, back. We have a way to do it now. Maybe if I get a rocking chair for my classroom….

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