I am pondering about Dr. Carl G. Jung and “school reform.” I find the answer is simple, CARING.

Bird Droppings March 1, 2022
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; we often see and are upset with those attributes we, too, have within ourselves. It is like a mirror; we know what we have within ourselves in others. 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 before as we now do our detention teacher by teacher.  I asked students why they were in detention somehow; I have a problem sending kids to another teacher for after-school punishment several days after an 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 it 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 the 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 not talk. 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 significant 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 asked for another question. I was amazed. Soon twenty or so questions later, and fifteen minutes after detention is over, and I tell them the 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

It seems far too often we as teachers take the easy 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 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 in conjunction with behavior, not days later and not in a different environment.

Several years back, for my capstone in my Piedmont Master’s program, I had a slide and used a quote about students having to want to be there to learn genuinely. It is interesting how learning occurs in AP and Honors classes and seems to be less in those classes where we expect failure.

In the news yesterday and the past week, several large school districts nationwide closed hundreds of schools opting for school reform. Teachers are blamed, chastised, fired, and lose certification. Where these schools are closing, they offer replacement programs designed by business people oriented around a profit mode, privately run charter schools. I will admit there are some very successful charter schools, 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 occurs from point A to point B, not what occurred at point B, which is what these schools have measured.

“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 look 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 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 focuses on high-risk kids but provides 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 exact 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 and students, trying to see and understand each 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, listening is often a factor, but perception is also one. 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. There were several cartoons and explanations of why kids do what they do in the brochure.

“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. I want to meet Henry David Thoreau, 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

A few years back, I turned a young man away even though his line was good. He was coming by my room on a bathroom pass to ask what we were doing in class. He was just interested in the same young man in my room just before the bell. He then left and 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 aloud when something strikes them funny even though it disrupts the class. We accuse them of this 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 believe that acceptance unlocks the door, and understanding and seeing 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 of child psychologist Erik Erikson. I used this as a quote for the day a few days back and included it 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. Her response was we might be farther back than 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 November 2006 American Journal of Education article about a caring school and the difference it made. That 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 tiny print. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your hearts, and always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)


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