School is Prison – What do you think?

September 11, 2009

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prison School is Prison   What do you think?

I just read an interesting article here by Peter Gray, a professor of psychology, that says over and over, “School is Prison.”  He says that a main reason kids don’t like school is that they’ve lost their freedom and their time and activities are completely controlled throughout the public school day.

Since my husband pretty much loved school (the geek) icon smile School is Prison   What do you think?  as a kid, and I was banging my head (figuratively) against the classroom walls the whole way through, I’m interested to hear what you think?  Did you have that kind of experience in public schools as a kid?

Here are a few fun prison public school moments I remember:

writing School is Prison   What do you think?

  1. Writing in my journal with my left hand during a class in a desperate bid for something challenging to do.
  2. chalkboard1 School is Prison   What do you think?
  3. One teacher erased the current homework assignment off the board, because I was doing that night’s homework during his lecture instead of ‘paying attention’ like I was supposed to.  (That just meant I did his homework in the following period so I didn’t have to ‘waste’ any of my free time after school)
  4. I wrote an essay detailing what I knew the teacher thought the interpretation of red in “The Scarlet Letter” meant, even though I completely disagreed.  (I had quickly figured out that getting an ‘A’ meant telling a teacher what he/she wanted to hear.)
  5. To be fair, here is a great experience:

  6. Mr. Sergeant, a history teacher, handed everyone a folder on a significant figure in the WWII era and after a week of research, we all had a debate with each other representing our WWII V.I.P.

Ahh . . . why weren’t all my classes like Mr. Sargeant’s history class?

So, in remembrance of public school, I have an essay question for you:  (please answer in the comment section)

  1. How are public schools like prisons?  How are they not?  Please explain.  icon smile School is Prison   What do you think?
pixel School is Prison   What do you think?
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5 Comments »

5 Comments so far

  1. docmisty June 24, 2011 10:22 pm

    Sarah,

    I felt a lot of the same myself in public school. I remember writing with my left hand because I was so bored and needed something challenging to do. I would do the homework assignment on the board during the lecture and when the teacher found out, he refused to write it up anymore so that I would ‘pay attention’ when he was teaching. Sheesh! Of course, I had a few great teachers, but it would have been nice if they were the rule instead of the exception.

    Thanks for the comment!

    Misty

  2. Sarah June 21, 2011 10:28 am

    I remember in elementary school, at about 12 years old (old enough to stay home by myself and old enough to babysit), my mom worked and there was nobody home. Since I was within walking distance, I wanted to go home for lunch (I avoiding playing with the evil children there when I could). The teachers said I couldn’t since my mom wasn’t home, so I used to wait in the classroom until we were let outside for lunch hour. Then I would watch for the teacher on duty outside, and when they weren’t looking, I make a run for it. It definitely felt like jail since I was essentially escaping.

    I remember the day I finished high school. That was the freest feeling day of my life!

  3. CT October 5, 2009 2:35 pm

    I’m sorry to hear how difficult your school-aged home was. I had considered safety a ‘con’ against public school with bullying, drug use, weapons, etc. – but you gave me a different viewpoint. For many, school can be an escape from dangerous home life. Thanks for sharing.

    Misty

  4. docmisty September 12, 2009 5:41 pm

    I’m sorry to hear how difficult your school-aged home was. I had considered safety a ‘con’ against public school with bullying, drug use, weapons, etc. – but you gave me a different viewpoint. For many, school can be an escape from dangerous home life. Thanks for sharing.

    Misty

  5. Nan September 12, 2009 9:41 am

    How are public schools like/unlike prison?

    I know that for me public school was an escape from the abusive prison that was my home. That said, its biggest perk was only that I wasn’t at home. I spent most of my time figuring out how to get out of doing what I was told to do. Grades were not my priority, not getting beaten was.

    My personal favorite was: at the beginning of high school I signed all paperwork as my parents, so for the next 4 years everything to be signed by a “parent” was signed by me giving me freedom and control over what I was doing.

    Please notice that no where in my commentary do you hear me say anything about learning. Even a prison is preferable to being abused, but no real education happened except in my journalism (I was on the newspaper as a typesetter and business editor) and art classes. These teachers were truly excellent, thought outside the box and gave us real skills we could use for the rest of our lives.

    I do think that schools are like prisons, you have to be there, you are not given real choice, teachers have to pander to the lowest common denominator and your learning needs are not even part of the equation – unless you do well reading information from a book.

    I managed to learn all of the bad lessons and none of the educational ones. Is that what we send our kids to “school” for?

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