8 comments
  1. It's easy to compare the actual physical school buildings to prisons because very often, especially in the mid-20th Century, the same architects were given the contracts by various municipalities.

    But in all seriousness, thank you very much for this post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it's fair to look at the similarities in power structures, though it's honestly not a new idea at all. Foucalt did it and, in many ways, took it to a non-paradoxical, modernist extreme.

      Delete
  2. My classroom could be a giant prison cell. No windows. Dirty tile floors that don't come clean. Outlets that can't handle a laptop cart. Drinking fountain that trickles.

    But that's just the room. It's not the learning.

    I've been thinking a ton about choice in the classroom. I'm a pretty firm believer in student voice, students being accountable for themselves, and being in charge of their learning. This is middle school and I firmly believe that most students are developmentally ready for that.

    However, choice and voice are a struggle for one of my classes. They aren't getting it.

    Communities have laws, norms, and regulations for guiding things. I think that I've been trying do too much with individual accountability. I haven't been focusing on community. This class isn't a community. Yet.

    Okay, community.

    Thanks for letting me sort this out as a comment and for posting this post. Timely for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What you describe in the beginning is what I've seen and in many cases, it feels depressing. But it's somehow humanized by the teachers and the students. I love the honesty in your comment. I still don't have a true classroom community yet, either.

      Delete
  3. School definitely is not prison, though some teachers make the distinguishing traits harder to recognize.

    I think the big issue with compulsory education is that some (not all) teachers and administrators take advantage of the captive clientele mindset. You have to be here, so you're going to have to learn to conform and cooperate.

    I think that a certain level of conformity and a high level of cooperation are incredibly important, no matter what you are doing. But, I also feel that civil disobedience has its place too.

    When I felt that I was trapped by an unyielding and faulty system in my school days I conformed enough to get through it, but disobeyed enough to still feel like my voice was heard.

    But, as unhappy as I was at times - it wasn't prison.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "School definitely is not prison, though some teachers make the distinguishing traits harder to recognize." Brilliant point. School was not a prison for me, though it was hard and restricting. Little changes would have made a difference - letting me choose some of my own content, allowing me to move around, getting rid of desks, etc.

      Delete
  4. Hi Mr. Spencer!

    I am a student in Dr. Strange's EDM310 class at the University of South Alabama. I enjoyed reading this particular post along with your opinion on the matter. I feel like, to students, schools can seem like a prison because they are given no choice. In most cases, students are told what to do and when and how to do it. If teachers would give students more of a voice and allow them to choose even a small portion of classroom content, I think learning could really flourish. Still, I'm not sure how an adult could relate schools to prisons based on anything other than building structure.
    Thanks for your input. I've enjoyed reading your posts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that adding choice and freedom make a huge difference. The biggest "prison" feeling comes from a lack of freedom to be passionate, curious, etc.

      Delete

Please leave a comment. I enjoy the conversation.