Bird Droppings March 1, 2021
I am pondering about Dr. Carl G. Jung and “school reform”. I find the answer is simple, CARING.
“If there is anything we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.” Carl G. Jung
Over the years I have seen this with myself, so often those attributes we see and are upset with we too have within ourselves. It is like a mirror, we are seeing them in others what we have within ourselves. I designed a few years back a student referral slip to refer teachers when they are inappropriate. I recall a detention I was supervising a year back as we now do our detention teacher by teacher. I asked students why they were in detention somehow, I have a problem with sending kids to another teacher for after school punishment, several days after they had issue and I know Dr. Jung would argue with me on this point. It goes against quite a bit of my training and education but was school policy. Sadly, it is not consistent as to why students are in detention.
In that detention ninety percent were in detention for being late to first period. I always love it when the excuses come up. “Well I pick up a friend and they are always late” as this person strolls in with a Quick Trip coffee cup or Burger king bagel, you want to say to them in that teenage vernacular we all know, whatever. So, I went to my duty and nearly twenty kids were in detention. The idea is to sit do your work and no talking. Of course, a few wise kids who want to make cute little noises mimicking bodily functions are always there. The students soon settle in and most are reading or studying relatively quickly.
With ten minutes left I offer a ticket out the door always a great Learning Focused Schools period ender and learning tool. My ticket out the door was a question. What is the life expectancy of the pygmy shrew? There were blank looks across the room. Ok I offered some help how about within two months. Fourteen, a student asks and is in his way. Five minutes left in detention and they ask for another question. I was sort of amazed soon twenty or so questions later and fifteen minutes after detention is over I tell them time is up when kids are interested even in detention they want to learn. Yes, there is a point to this story.
“It all depends on how we look at things, and not how they are in themselves.” Carl G. Jung
Is seems far too often we as teachers take the easy route the path of least resistance and settle into a groove often far too deep. The idea of sharing detention duty is one such easy route. Being one who actually looks at meaningful data I do crazy things like see which teachers have the most detentions. It always amazes me how six or seven teachers in a given period consistently have the most students in detention. Conversely the same fifty or so do not use the detention system as a means of punishment. I do my research every year when it is time for me to do detention and write a report offering simple psychological truths. Punishment works best when in conjunction with behavior not days later and not in a totally different environment.
Several years back for my capstone in my Piedmont Master’s program I had a slide and used a quote about students have to want to be there to truly learn. It is interesting how learning occurs in AP classes and Honors classes and seems to be less in those classes where we expect failure.
Yesterday and in the past week in the news several large school districts nationwide closed hundreds of schools opting for school reform. Teachers are blamed, chastised, fired, and in some cases loose certification. Where these schools are closing they are offering as a replacement programs designed by businessmen who are oriented around a profit mode, private run charter schools. I will admit there are some charter schools that are very successful and I look at why. Charter schools can limit enrollment to students they choose, are not subject to massive standardized testing schools being closed have been subjected. I might add meaningless tests. Learning is what occurs from point A to point B not what occurred at point B which is what these schools have been measured on.
“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.” Carl G. Jung
I suggest that we are looking at the word reform incorrectly. We should be looking at why schools are not successful first as Jung points out looking at ourselves. In the American Journal of Education, November issue 2006 an there is an article entitled “’Drop-Outs” and ‘Push-Outs”, finding hope at a school that actualizes the ethic of care” by Wanda Cassidy and Anita Bates. The school in the article is focusing on high risk kids but providing an atmosphere of a caring environment and is being successful. During my tenure at Piedmont College I participated in a Foxfire course, entitled Foxfire teaching techniques. In one exercise the students list attributes of good teachers and good students. In the responses now over twelve years the same words are used. A good teacher listens and amazingly enough so do good students. At the Whytecliff Education Center, the school this article was based on, students in interviews said the number one attribute of a good teacher is someone who will listen.
“The shoe that fits one-person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.” Carl G. Jung
For teachers often and for students trying to see and understand the other can be difficult. I watch this every day. Students have come to me and complained about this teacher or that and the teacher complains about this student or that and the complaints are the same. Sadly, many times listening is a factor but perception is one as well. As adults we see a child’s world in adult terms. I picked up several booklets from the guidance office months ago almost sarcastically. Adolescences and Understanding teenagers, was the title of one. In the brochure there were several cartoons and explanations of why kids do what they do.
“Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you.” Carl G. Jung
There are few people in history I would want to meet. Generally, I start my list with Ralph Waldo Emerson. He is a fellow existentialist and the more I read the more I wonder about everything which is perhaps why I enjoy Emerson. Henry David Thoreau another I would like to meet and his philosophy so closely ties to Emerson. In the realms of modern folks my list includes a few Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Grandpa Niper (my great, great grandfather), William Savidge, my grandfather who passed away before I was born and Dr. Carl G. Jung. I have always been impressed with Jung’s approach to dealing with people. It has always intrigued me. He split from Freud because he saw another realm so to say. He saw a spiritual aspect not necessarily religion but something that we have beyond physical rationalizations.
“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” Carl G. Jung
I turned a young man away yesterday even though his line was good. Coming by my room on a bathroom pass to ask what we were doing in class. He was just interested the same young man who was in my room just before the bell and then left and then walked around the entire school to get to his class in the room next door history had caught up to him.
“The healthy man does not torture others – generally it is the tortured that turn into torturers.” Carl G. Jung
There are reasons why kids do what they do. It could be mimicking bodily functions or giggling out loud when something strikes them funny even though it disrupts the class. We accuse them of this or that and never really look or listen to why.
“We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.” Carl G. Jung
I do believe that acceptance unlocks the door and trying to understand and see beyond the symptoms can provide answers.
“Children love and want to be loved and they very much prefer the joy of accomplishment to the triumph of hateful failure. Do not mistake a child for his symptom.” Erik Erikson
I am also a big fan or child psychologist Erik Erikson. I used this as a quote for the day a few days back and included in numerous Bird Droppings over the years, it is a powerful thought. I spoke with a dear friend yesterday about the current state of affairs in Special education around d the country and her response was we may be farther back then we were in 1973 when we finally had mandatory education for all children with IDEA. To me that is most interesting. Colleges are dropping Special Education as a major. Charter schools will not in many cases take problem children and or special education children be it from a learning or behavior standpoint.
I look back at the article in the November 2006 American Journal of Education about a caring school and difference it made. That sort of encourages my philosophy of caring about students. I wonder if we can or was that in legislation too, no caring under section 234.23 on page 569 in the very small print. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.
My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)