The Therapy Sessions
Friday, October 10, 2003
From Best Of The Web:
(Colman) McCarthy's belief that peace can only be achieved through peaceful means is what drives him; it underlies every facet of his being. It is, for example, the foundation of his peace studies courses. Post-9/11, after suicidal terrorists attempted to kill as many people as possible with planes turned into bombs, does anyone honestly believe that "evildoers" can be stopped with peace, love, flowers, and not voting? McCarthy does. His courses examine the roots of aggression in the many forms they take--racism, sexual assault, poverty, patriotism, war. In each case, he argues that violence can be defanged with pacifist resistance.
"Peace through peaceful means" also explains McCarthy's classroom management style. He calls homework, tests, and grades "forms of academic violence." So, while he typically assigns two papers a semester and asks students to read essays by pacifists such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Leo Tolstoy, and Catholic social worker Dorothy Day, he doesn't require them to do anything. They don't even have to sit through his class if they don't want to be there, he tells them. And at the end of the course, McCarthy lets students choose their own grades.
Who could be taken in by such rubbish? Teachers, that's who:
McCarthy reluctantly wrapped up his speech at the 45-minute mark and was mobbed by several teachers who wanted to buy his books. Another group gathered in the back of the room to discuss what they'd just heard. While agreeing that McCarthy's in-your-face comments wouldn't fly with most school boards or parents, they excitedly talked about how radical pacifist ideas could enliven their own classes.
An elegant-looking teacher in her 40s wandered up and joined the conversation. The truth, she said conspiratorially, is that when you close your classroom door, you're in charge and there's a lot you can get away with. The others nodded in agreement.
Suddenly, the teacher registered with alarm that a reporter's tape recorder was running. She declared that her comments were off the record and abruptly walked away from the group. Reconsidering their candor, one by one other teachers in the circle requested that their comments, too, be considered off the record. Peace may have a chance in America's schools. But at least for now, the revolution will not be broadcast.
I worry that I am going to have some real problems with people like this when my sons reach school age.