Students' goals.

From Phil Runkel in reply to Richard Thurman's posting of 19 March 96.

        It is not "bad" to feel conflict when it happens. It is not
"bad" to have goals that you find running contrary to goals of other
people. It is not necessarily _bad_ to try to organize a lot of other
people in the assumption that all of them are going to adopt your goals
as their own. That is not necessarily immoral (though according to my
standards it often turns out so), but it is always fruitless and
unrealistic, because it is never going to work out that way. As you see
in all the postings on this net and in the writings cited here. AND as
you yourself illustrated in your reply to Wolsk.

        What I think is indeed immoral is, after you have made the
assumption that everyone will adopt your goals and then discover that
some don't, then you conclude that there is something defective or
immoral about those who don't. THAT is what I think is immoral--to
conclude that people who don't obey your wishes are defectibe or
immoral. So I you refuse to agree with this opinion, I will not charge
you with deficiency or immorality. I will not even charge you with
stipidity -- but you had better not disagree too persistently!

        As to what can be done in public schools, there are a million
good things that can be done ( Ed Ford gives some good examples, and thre
are others at various points of the compass), but if good things are to
last, a lot of teachers must be supporting one another month in and month
out and year in and year out, or threats from outside drive out the
innovators.

From Phil Runkel to Richard Thurman and Bruce Gregory.

        I agree with Bruce Gregory (20 March 96), too.

[From Richard Thurman (960322.0905)]

Phil Runkel (960321.)
Thanks for the reply. Believe it or not, it lifted the fog and I now see
that you were not saying what I thought you had!

       It is not "bad" to feel conflict when it happens. It is not
"bad" to have goals that you find running contrary to goals of other
people. It is not necessarily _bad_ to try to organize a lot of other
people in the assumption that all of them are going to adopt your goals
as their own. That is not necessarily immoral (though according to my
standards it often turns out so), but it is always fruitless and
unrealistic, because it is never going to work out that way. As you see
in all the postings on this net and in the writings cited here. AND as
you yourself illustrated in your reply to Wolsk.

Yes, I agree with you. In fact that's what I was trying to say. (Except
for the statement that asking others to adopt one's goal is fruitless and
unrealistic.)

       What I think is indeed immoral is, after you have made the
assumption that everyone will adopt your goals and then discover that
some don't, then you conclude that there is something defective or
immoral about those who don't. THAT is what I think is immoral--to
conclude that people who don't obey your wishes are defectibe or
immoral. So I you refuse to agree with this opinion, I will not charge
you with deficiency or immorality. I will not even charge you with
stipidity -- but you had better not disagree too persistently!

Ok! Ok! I agree completely! (Is it ok to agree too persistently?) In
fact, what I was originally trying to get across was that same idea taken
opposit direction. Let me try again.

As you said, it's not good to imply immorality, deficiency, or even
stupidity when people (students, classroom teachers) do not obey the
curriculum designer's wishes. What I'm trying to communicate is that it's
also not correct to imply that those in political authority (the
curriculum committee, the state legislators, Newt Gingrich, and others)
are immoral when they do not agree with the goals the (PCT) teachers want
adopted.

I thought in your original post you were implying that they (Newt and
company) were immorally trying to extract students desires, goals and
aspirations -- like so many bad teeth -- and replace them with some demon
spawned ideas dredged from the bowels of the legislature. (Please excuse
the melodrama, I'm trying to get across the 'feeling' I experienced, not
perhaps the exact words that were used.)

Interpersonal conflicts (the tension between teachers in the trenches and
administration in their ivory towers being a prime example) are neither
good nor bad. These conflicts are just a consequence of living as
mutually interacting control systems in a goal limiting world. I think
that we need to constantly keep that in mind and I see now that you do as
well!

       As to what can be done in public schools, there are a million
good things that can be done ( Ed Ford gives some good examples, and thre
are others at various points of the compass), but if good things are to
last, a lot of teachers must be supporting one another month in and month
out and year in and year out, or threats from outside drive out the
innovators.

Agreed. I am very glad I met Ed Ford. I make it a habit to give his book
"Freedom from Stress" first to anyone who is experiencing distress. Also,
his approach to discipline in inner-city public schools and the results of
that approach are truly gratifying. He is on to something!

I also like what Bruce Gregory and David Wolsk are working out. What I
hear them formulating is a science curriculum based on students personally
experiencing the act of inference making, instead of 'book learning' and
memorization. Also the idea of sharing goals and articulating just what
each individual wants out of class is very interesting. Imagine a class
of genuine student scholars and facilitator trying to discover science!

Rich