School 1957 versus 2009

Posted Friday February 12, 2010 by John Gunders in |

I got this via email a couple of days ago. Another of those well-intentioned spam emails that purports to show how we should get back to “common-sense” (always of the conservative variety, of course). Things were always better in the “old days,” before political correctness.

I’ve added a few comments…

Scenario: Jack goes rabbit shooting before school, pulls into school parking lot with rifle in gun rack.

1957 – Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack’s rifle, goes to his car and gets his rifle & chats with Jack about guns.

2009 – School goes into lock down, Star Force called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counsellors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Comment – A culture that normalises and glorifies guns leads inevitably to obscene tragedies such as Columbine High and Virginia Tech. But of course, guns don’t kill people—apparently it’s heavy metal music and Dungeons and Dragons that kills people.

Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.

1957 – Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.

2009 – Police called, arrests Johnny and Mark. Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it. Both children go to anger management programs for 3 months. School board hold meeting to implement bullying prevention programs.

Comment – Some research suggests that one in six students in Australian schools are subjected to bullying, and that this is on the rise as mobile technologies make cyber-bullying more accessible. In extreme cases, bullying can lead to suicide. “Shake and make up” rarely comes into it.

Scenario: Robbie won’t be still in class, disrupts other students.

1957 – Robbie sent to office and given 6 of the best by the Principal. Returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.

2009 – Robbie given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. Tested for ADD. Robbie’s parents get fortnightly disability payments and School gets extra funding from state because Robbie has a disability.

Comment – Robbie didn’t disrupt the class again, but his untreated learning disability meant he never achieved his full potential. Undiagnosed ADD has condemned many people to unsatisfying jobs and lives, because teachers and parents thought the kids were stupid or lazy. In extreme cases it leads to unemployment, homelessness, and crime.

Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his neighbor’s car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.

1957 – Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.

2009 – Billy’s dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang. State psychologist tells Billy’s sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison.

I can’t find an instance of a parent being jailed (as opposed to cautioned) for physically disciplining a child, but there are plenty of cases of severe injury to, or even death of, children when the “disciplining” gets out of hand.

Scenario: Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.

1957 – Mark gets glass of water from Principal to take aspirin with.

2009 – Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car searched for drugs and weapons.

Comment – Knowing people who are prone to headaches, I have some sympathy for this one. Nevertheless, I suspect that many of the people who nod sagely at this and say, “how true,” are also the ones who yell most vehemently when the issue of drugs in school comes up.

Scenario: Pedro fails high school English.

1957 – Pedro goes to summer school, passes English and goes to college.

2009 – Pedro’s cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. AFRE files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro’s English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. Pedro given diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

Comment – No, Pedro doesn’t go to Summer School, because his parents can’t afford it. His teachers do their best with the limited resources and over-crowded classrooms, but the government is more interested in league tables and spin to provide adequate services. Pedro falls through the cracks of a broken system and ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English. At least he’ll be able to keep Robbie company.

Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from Guy Fawkes, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a bull ant nest.

1957 – Ants die.

2009 – State Police, Star Force, Federal Police & Anti-terrorism Squad called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism, Feds investigate parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated. Johnny’s Dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Comment – There are some who claim that the raft of anti-terrorism laws over the last decade have more to do with limiting the civil liberties of citizens than protecting them. But it does make the sort of people who comment on Andrew Bolt’s blog feel good about themselves.

Scenario: Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to comfort him.

1957 – In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.

2009 – Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in Prison. Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.

Comment – Again, the “sexual predators in school” line is one that is most frequently run by conservative commentators stirring up the rent-a-crowd. I’ve met caring, loving teachers who dare not physically comfort a child because of the stigma and suspicion.

I also can’t help but notice that the person who originally wrote this piece has a very low opinion of the (American) legal system. Three people in jail and one on a terror watch over unsubstantiated, circumstantial evidence.

It’s very easy to say that things were better in the “old days,” when divorce rates were lower (because women stayed in abusive relationships), when children did as were told (because they’d cop a thrashing otherwise), when boys were taught to be boys and girls acted like girls (because enforcing gender stereotypes turned out so well).

Yeah, there are some problems with the way we do things, and maybe we should change them.

But it’s easier to send around “good old days” spam…

Your Comments

  1. Matthew Smith writes:

    Posted: 22 02 2010 - 02:48 | Permanent link to this comment

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    Posted: 9 03 2010 - 23:15 | Permanent link to this comment

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