Let’s be blunt.

The Treehorn Express

{Available to schools in Queensland [Australia] schools by email only through the good graces of concerned educators}

Let’s be blunt about Eichmannism

In their dealings with children, most adults will undertake destructive activities or remain silent about them, against their better nature, when instructed by superior authorities

“to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality. Relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.”

said Stanley Milgram whose startling experiments in 1963 reached the following conclusion:-

“Ordinary people are likely to follow orders given by an authority figure, even to the extent of killing an innocent human being. Obedience to authority is ingrained in us all from the way we are brought up. People tend to obey orders from other people if they recognize their authority as morally right and/or legally based.”

This response to legitimate authority is learned in a variety of situations….. in the family, school and workplace.
Milgram summed it all up in the article “The Perils of Obedience” (Milgram 1974), writing: “The legal and philosophic aspects of obedience are of enormous import, but they say very little about how most people behave in concrete situations. I set up a simple experiment at Yale University to test how much pain an ordinary citizen would inflict on another person simply because he was ordered to by an experimental scientist. Stark authority was pitted against the subjects’ [participants’] strongest moral imperatives, against hurting others, and, with the subjects’ [participants’] ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won more often than not. The extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study and the fact most urgently demanding explanation.”

Milgram undertook the experiments because he had wondered if ordinary American folk would be capable of undertaking the kind of activities that ordinary German folk had performed during the Nazi regime under the authority of Adolf Eichmann, who claimed that he, in turn, just ‘did as he was bid’; and whose conscience didn’t bother him.

Of course, Australians would never [ like those Americans and Germans] do anything against their ethical principles no matter who bossed them around! Never! Huh?

But then “ Times, they are achangin’…”

It is clear that there has been an enormous change in the political climate in western countries since the days we all believed in and adhered tenaciously to the Rights of the Child. Remember 1979, The Year of the Child when the catchy tune ‘Care for Kids‘ led the charts? Despite our many failings, we once protected kids from dangerous extraneous influences. Personal codes of conduct were not a sham that merely represented authority’s code of control.

Now. During this present extraordinary period of our history, controlled as it is by corporate neoliberalism – conservatism on steroids –, eichmannism has seeped into and become a feature of the teaching trade. Having allowed managerialism to infect its institutions, the former great profession no longer represents its clients adequately nor protects them from the sneaky, shady influences of politicisation and corporate greed.

The Stockholm syndrome kicks in and plays its insidious role.

Evidence of this kind of coercive control and its outcomes are manifest. In Australia, teachers are not allowed to describe their own feelings to the public about NAPLAN tests. Principals cannot mention publically that parents have the right to say, “NO”. Some teachers who help children to feel more at ease during testing time, are punished. Others go to extraordinary lengths to settle the victims down. [sleep-overs, breakfasts, rewards]. Mystical privacy laws are invoked by the meek when questioned privately. A tenuous Code of Conduct is used by authorities and school leaders as an institutional whip. Nothing is done about the assault on children’s emotions….only talked about. Anti-naplanners [them ‘kid-lovers’] are seen as seditious. Verbotten! Dissembling professional clashes between educators and testucators have become part of the scenery. Never before. Political gimmicks [charter schools, year level distribution, curriculum ‘improvement’, ‘Accords’ amongst them] are allowed to permeate the teaching culture as solutions to a mythical standards crisis.

This is 2014-style schooling. Embedded Eichmannism has become a very serious threat to our children’s emotional welfare and our general future. Our better nature reacts against fear-centric teaching techniques; but we sheepishly do as we are told.

What should we do? Just keep going?

Phil Cullen [….one of them kid-lovers] 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point 2486 07 5524 6443 0407865999 cphilcullen@bigpond.com
http://primaryschooling.net/    http://kelleyandcullen.net/

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