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Fuller On Rankism In Schools, Part 3

December 26, 2013

Excerpted from Somebodies and Nobodies, by Robert W. Fuller:

Until it is understood why so many students who begin school with hope and enthusiasm wind up turning off or dropping out, educational reforms, whether progressive or conservative, will continue to disappoint.

There is a reason that prior reforms have fallen short of expectations, but like the proverbial fish in the bowl, we’re too close to see it. The truth is that students do not give their hearts and minds to learning because there’s poison in the “bowl”. Not enough to kill all the fish, but enough to stunt the growth of many.

This strength-sapping poison is the real and imagined threat of rank abuse, and it pervades all our educational institutions from kindergarten through graduate school. Finding and holding one’s position within the hierarchy takes priority over all else. Before students can focus on their texts, they must master the subtext that governs their rank within the school. Whether we give ourselves to educational enterprise or withhold ourselves from it is determined by our strategy for maintaining dignity within the school hierarchy.

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