Such, Such Were the Joys (cont’d)

Today, FedUp Mom answers a question she posed four weeks ago in her guest post where she suggested that people read Such, Such Were the Joys by George Orwell. Read her answers to the other questions she posed here, here and here. And, of course, don’t forget to chime in with your own answer.

Such, Such Thursdays
by FedUp Mom
(part 4)

QUESTION #4:

(from Such, Such Were the Joys)

“That was the pattern of school life — a continuous triumph of the strong over the weak. Virtue consisted in winning: it consisted in being bigger, stronger, handsomer, richer, more popular, more elegant, more unscrupulous than other people … Life was hierarchical and whatever happened was right. There were the strong, who deserved to win and always did win, and there were the weak, who deserved to lose and always did lose, everlastingly.”

Has anything changed? Support your answer.

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The hierarchies of school happen on the micro level (the power trips within the individual school), and also on the macro level (the unequal status between schools.)

On the macro level, we will soon have a Supreme Court populated exclusively by graduates of Harvard and Yale law schools. England has a new Prime Minister educated at Eton and Oxford. The finishing schools of the rich and powerful keep doing their job.

On the micro level, Orwell nailed it. School is all about hierarchy, power, and control. Homework is a continual reminder of who has power over whom, and a way for school to exert control, not just over the students in the classroom, but over the entire family at home.

3 Comments on “Such, Such Were the Joys (cont’d)”

  1. HomeworkBlues says:

    “Homework is a continual reminder of who has power over whom, and a way for school to exert control, not just over the students in the classroom, but over the entire family at home.”

    The more we can expose that homework is more about power, control and compliance and less about all the tired old canards we keep being fed (teaches responsibility, allows parent to see what child is learning at school, it’s practice), the more we can chip away at this stubborn outdated institution.

    The larger question is, why do teachers play into this so much? I understand their own power issues. Society at large needs a very significant portion of the workforce to be compliant, it’s how the wheels of commerce turn. Our work culture doesn’t want too many people to be brilliant, to be mavericks. Mavericks are a threat to those less intelligent or creative. I understand the motives, all the while completely rebelling against them. I should have written the book “Going Rogue,” not Sarah Palin!

    But why do teachers themselves play into this macro goal? They have a chance, here, on the micro-level, to shake things up a bit. Why not go for it? Why so subservient to their own higher ups? Why the pecking order in such full force?

    May 13th, 2010 at 8:54 am
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  2. PsychMom says:

    I look at the school my child attends and I don’t get it…we don’t have the hierarchical pressure, telling teachers they must give homework. My perception is that they really feel homework is necessary to prepare kids for the future, from kindergarten on. It’s a myth that lives on. But I agree, why would they choose this intentionally. Why isn’t going without homework the preferred route? Wouldn’t they rather have happy families and children?

    May 13th, 2010 at 9:08 am
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  3. ödev says:

    I look at the school my child attends and I don’t get it…we don’t have the hierarchical pressure, telling teachers they must give homework. My perception is that they really feel homework is necessary to prepare kids for the future, from kindergarten on. It’s a myth that lives on. But I agree, why would they choose this intentionally. Why isn’t going without homework the preferred route? Wouldn’t they rather have happy families and children?

    June 15th, 2011 at 1:45 pm
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