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Pseudo fairness - a true mark of unthinking bureaucracy.

By Andrew Pollack on 11/06/2006 at 04:16 PM EST

It should be no shock to anyone that school systems annoy me almost as much now as they did when I was in school. Today it's all this talk about responsibility without actually giving the kids any and this idea that kids are born with a set amount of "self esteem" and anything you say to them could rob them of this precious commodity. Of course, that's bullshit. Kids are not necessary born with either enough or not enough of this mysterious "esteem" stuff. Kid's can build CONFIDENCE which is really what we're talking about, but only if they are challenged. Confidence comes from being put in a situation with a possibility of failure, and succeeding anyway. If you never put a kid in a position where they can fail, they never gain any real confidence. It's a great way to create bullies, however.

In any case, on Thursday I realized yet another mark of stupid bureaucracy. I call it "Pseudo Fairness" but I'm sure you'll recognize it. Between one of Ari's classes they are not allowed to return to their lockers to switch books and things. Why? Because one of the classrooms is far enough away that it is feared that some of the kids would not be able to make it and get back in time. Ignoring the fact that five minutes is a hell of a lot of time to walk 600 feet (yes, I know the length of the hallways because I have to be prepared to drag hoseline through them) -- why on earth would you stop all students from something because some may not have time? Pseudo fairness. You bring everyone down to the worst possible case just to prevent anyone from possibly failing.

This is the mark of truly idiotic bureaucracy. In the real world, a person would have a place to be and a time to be there. If they happen to be lucky enough to have a nearby locker, there may be time to stop. If not, they'll have to make other arrangements. Perhaps a market would spring up for nearby locker storage. Perhaps these kids have friends. Who knows what amazing things could happen if the school would simply quit trying to control every aspect of their little lives. Bureaucracy is what happens when you give little people a little power.

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re: Pseudo fairness - a true mark of unthinking bureaucracy.By Carl Tyler on 11/06/2006 at 11:20 PM EST
I have to agree. I'm very concerned we are modifying evolution, whatever
happened to survival of the fittest?

What happens to these kids when they leave school and apply for jobs and
suddenly find out there isn't one for everyone?

Kids like to be challenged, it's what makes them grow and helps them work out
their limit. Failure is part of growing up. I played on a soccer team as a
kid, we never won a game yet I still loved playing. We were the Robert the
Bruce of football...
I don't think I can follow you all the way to Darwin on this....By Andrew Pollack on 11/07/2006 at 07:33 AM EST
...The other side of having a situation you can fail in is having a _safe_
situation you can fail in. "Interrupting Evolution" sounds like words that can
lead to excuses for eugenics and removal of a social safety net and I'm very
much against either.

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