Re: Three solutions for school game.

Eric Crump (wleric@SHOWME.MISSOURI.EDU)
Tue, 20 Aug 1996 09:06:14 -0500

> >From Darlene Sybert:
> "When teachers try to be friends and colleagues to undergraduates,
> especially freshmen, instead of teachers, students have to make decisions
> they are ill equipped to make. . . Would an editor allow a writer to set up
> his own criteria and judge his own performance?"


I'm very wary of your friend:parent = colleague:teacher equation.

It glosses the rich possibilities of each set of relationships, and it
presents the question: When *are* students going to be well-equipped to
make difficulty decisions and judge their own performance? Who will
decide they are ready? And most important:

How can they possibly acquire the maturity and ability to make
decisions and judgements if they aren't given the opportunity
to do so?

That's like saying they should read about writing before they try to
write anything, just to make sure they know what they are doing first.
It's impossible to learn how to write well that way. Reminds me of one of
the epigraph's to the John Holt book I've been quoting lately:

"If we taught children to speak, they'd never learn."

--Willliam Hull

Giving children and college freshlings the room to fail is necessary to
creating a fertile learning environment. If they are ill-prepared to fail
productively, it's because they've had their success engineered for so
long by so many parental teachers.

And, by the by, I think it's a fine thing for parents to be friends with
their children at *every* opportunity. So much of the time we have to
control their behavior to keep them safe and to keep them from destroying
the house, but that only makes it more important to seize the moments
when friendship can assert. Friends, actually, are better teachers than

I get the feeling that you think friends and colleagues do not influence
or control each other at all. That's not how I think of those roles.
Rather, they tend to depend on rhetorical means rather than vested
authority in order to have influence with (<--a key word!) each other.
It's a leveled relationship rather than hierarchic, but it's not
necessarily laissez faire. In fact, it's rarely an anything-goes kind of
thing! Friends and colleagues care about each other enough to want to
help the other do well and grow. They are supportive in times of failure.
Firm when firmness is required. The key difference between this and
authoritarian relations: respect for the individuality of the other.
Authority-over erodes the tendency to respect.

--Eric Crump