Tuesday, January 1, 2008

"Simon Sez," the School Game

"A common reason for the government to set up schools is for the boys to go to war and the girls to cheer them on."
-- Marshall Fritz, founder, Alliance for the Separation of School and State


Simon sez, “Stand on your left leg. Raise your right arm.” Simon sez, “Scratch behind your right ear with your left index finger.” How well we remember that game, “You there! You did not raise your arm fast enough. You’re out!” What stress it caused.

School says, “Sit down; be quiet.” School says, “Open your book to page six. Now go to the toilet. Now eat.” That’s the school’s game. The “winners” are the few who comply with the commands. The losers are all the ones who were caught in mistakes and were ushered aside…we might even say they were “left behind.”

The game, of course, is a metaphor for school. School Simon has buzzers, loud speakers, schedules, threats and punishments, even drugs to control the students. The employees even call themselves “professionals.” Simon Sez is an adult’s idea of a good time for children, and yet children seldom choose to play it on their own. The school employees say that what they do is "for the children," even though the public school system is designed to serve the needs of government and arranged for the convenience and benefit of the employees.

Today, many who went to school and took it seriously often find themselves at a loss for what to do. We have become dependent on Simon to tell us what to do. Well, that is because we have been trained not to think for ourselves. The training is done by the schools. It is called, “socialization,” and it breeds ignorance of one’s own needs and aspirations. It is obedience training and indoctrination, not education.

What is the purpose of such a school? Here’s David Alpert, author and homeschool advocate: “The objective is the production of a docile, compliant workforce that will not rebel, and that will seek out life satisfactions solely through the production and consumption of material goods. The first requirement is to become habituated to obedience…if you want to know what you should be feeling or thinking (or consuming), you should go ask Simon.”

Alpert continues, “Schools tell us that doing things that are just plain dumb because you are ordered to, builds character and prepares you for life.” How insane can it get? The truth is that the school game destroys character and prepares children for lives of blind obedience and dependency, denying the need of all youth to develop independence.

Today school employees like to say that theirs is a “democratic” institution, with a “culture of respect.” We have to laugh because it is the exact opposite. They are in fact anti-democratic because the system denies all principles of democratic association. Here’s psychologist/philosopher Erich Fromm: “The right to express our thoughts means something only if we are able to establish our own individuality.” He is saying that when democracy is perverted to mean that we are occasionally allowed to choose a new Simon, we are actually volunteering to be someone’s slave. The public schools are in fact not democratic but dictatorial, as their game demonstrates.

About one hundred fifty years ago, America copied the system of Prussia (which became fascist Germany) which used its schools to turn out factory workers and soldiers. It demanded total obedience. David Alpert concludes: “Perhaps the best that can be said about American public schooling is that, thankfully, we aren’t very good at it.”


Ned Vare is an architectural designer, artist and author, a former private school teacher, rancher, businessman, elected official.

1 comment:

christinemm said...

I loved this post Ned!

Now I am trying to think of what Dodgeball taught us...