'It's not my job to love my pupils - it's my job to teach them.'
7:33 PM

Below is an article that appeared in the New York Times, 1 August 1967. We reproduce it in its entirety because it includes several of the reasons that so many people now reaching adulthood would be unable to adapt to new conditions.


Lack of Communication is Called Crux of Problem by 10 Teenagers.

Views are challenged
Some of the 150 Instructors in Audience Walk Out in Heated Exchange

Ten teenagers told a group of teachers yesterday that going to some schools was 'worse than no education at all' because of racial discrimination, narcotics and other classroom problems.

'You aren't going to like this,' 15-year-old Cynthia Smith said, as she began to describe the 'behave yourself or get out' method of discipline in the junior high school. About 150 teachers were listening in the auditorium of the Sarah J. Hale High School in Brooklyn. Some of the teachers challenged the teenagers' complaints. Several young women, murmuring, 'I can't take this any longer', left shortly after Deputy Mayor Timothy W. Costello appeared at the session. A school official asked Fran Defren, a neighborhood poverty worker, to change the topic 'so that this won't disintegrate into a shouting match'.

The teenagers, many of them high school dropouts who now work for the South Brooklyn Community Progress Center, the local arm of the poverty program, had asked Board of Education officials to arrange the meeting. They contended that the cause of most classroom problems was an 'almost total' lack of communication between teenagers and adults.

More Talking Urged

The teachers don't want to communicate with us: 18-year old Louis Gelomino said, 'But they should. A long talk is much more effective than just testing a failing student aside and saying, "You have two 65's and three 40's, and it looks bad for you".'

Dave Hamilton, 15 complained that the only time he heard his principal's voice was over his school's loudspeaker system. The principal goes into his office every morning and says into the microphone, "Junior High School 51 is the best",' Dave said, 'and he knows that's a lie.

Some of the teachers, however, blamed the youths for not trying hard enough to communicate 'Every time I try to talk to a student he gives me the brush off,' a young Puerto Rican teacher said.

'You have to keep searching in South Brooklyn: Louis Gelomino answered. 'You'll find a few responsive ones. This area may be physically repugnant to you, but a lot of the people are beautiful.

'I think a lot of the trouble comes from a lack of love between students and teachers,' 19-year-old George McLauehlin added.

'It's not my job to love my pupils - it's my job to teach them,' a teacher shouted back.

Discrimination Charged

The panel - made up of Negro, Puerto Rican and white teenagers - cited racial discrimination as another problem. Cynthia Smith told the teachers, about 95 per cent of whom are white, that only two teachers in Junior High School 10 were Negro.

'There are four,' came a voice from the audience.

Jerrold Glassman, a former principal at the school, said that three of about 70 teachers there are Negro. The school will be replaced by Intermediate School 88 this fall.

Joe Castagna, 18, complained about methods of discipline. 'I had a chemistry teacher at John Jay High School who made unruly kids sit in the back of the room and read comic books. If you read comic books until the end of the term, you passed,' he said.

Isador Auerbach, principal of John Jay until last September, when asked about the chemistry teacher, said, 'I'm sure nothing like that has ever gone on.'

Late, over turkey sandwiches and pickles in the school lunchroom, many teachers conceded they knew their students problems, but were unable to help them.

'Many students get angry, but when it happens in the classroom there's no place to talk,' said Alaine Mitchell, a teacher at Junior High School 142.

Other teachers complained that time they wanted to spend with students was taken up with 'needless' paper work.

A middle-aged teacher, who declined to give her name, commented that parochial schools were above having problems.

'In the parochial schools: she said. 'If we have a problem child, we threaten him with public school. They shape up.'

from 'Teaching As A Subversive Activity' by Neil Postman & Charles Weingartner


tea with sugar gives me the cramps

'Bad patients, son, bad patients. There's nothing a good doctor can do about bad patients. '
8:59 PM

Picture this scene: Dr Gillupsie has grouped around him several of the young resident surgeons at Blear General Hospital. They are about to begin their weekly analysis of the various operations they have performed in the preceding four days. Gillupsie nods in the direction of Jim Kildear, indicating that Kildear's cases will be discussed first:

GILLUPSIE: Well, Jim, what have you been up to this week?

KILDEAR: Only one operation. I removed the gall bladder of the patient in Room 421.

GILLUPSIE: What was his trouble?

KILDEAR: Trouble? No trouble. I believe it's just inherently good to remove gall bladders.

GILLUPSIE: Inherently good?

KILDEAR: I mean good in itself. I'm talking about removing gall bladders qua removing gall bladders.

GILLUPSIE: Oh, you mean removing gall bladders per se.

KILDEAR: Precisely, Chief. Removing his gall bladder had intrinsic merit. It was, as we say, good for its own sake.

GILLUPSIE: Splendid, Jim. If there's one thing I won't tolerate at Blear, it's a surgeon who is merely practical. What's in store next week?

KILDEAR: Two frontal lobotomies.

GILLUPSIE: Frontal lobotomies qua frontal lobotomies, I hope?

KILDEAR: What else?

GILLUPSIE: How about you, young Dr Fuddy? What have you done this week?

PUDDY: Busy. Performed four pilonidal-cyst excisions.

GILLUPSIE: Didn't know we had that many cases.

PUDDY: We didn't, but you know how fond I am of pilonidal-cyst excisions. That was my major in medical school, you know.

GILLUPSIE: Of course, I’d forgotten. As I remember it now, the prospect of doing pilonidal-cyst excisions brought you into medicine, didn't it?

PUDDY: That's right, Chief. I was always interested in that. Frankly, I never cared much for appendectomies.

GILLUPSIE: Appendectomies?

PUDDY: Well, that seemed to be the trouble with the patient in 397.

GILLUPSIE: But you stayed with the old pilonldal-cyst excision, eh?

PUDDY: Right, Chief.

GILLUPSIE: Good work Fuddy. I know just how you feel. When I was a young man, I was keenly fond of hysterectomies.

PUDDY: (giggling) Little tough on the man, eh chief?

GILLUPSIE: Well, yes (snickering). But you'd be surprised at how much a resourceful surgeon can do. (Then, solemnly) Well, Carstairs, how have things been going?

CARSTAIRS: I'm afraid I've had some bad luck, Dr Gillupsie. No operations this week, but three of my patients died.

GILLUPSIE: Well, we'll have to do something about this, won’t we? What did they die of?

CARSTAIRS: I’m not sure, Dr Gillupsie, but I did give each one of them plenty of penicillin.

GILLUPSIE: Ah! The traditional 'good for its own sake' approach, eh, Carstairs?

CARSTAIRS: Well, not exactly, Chief. I just thought that penicillin would help them get better.

GILLUPSIE: What were you treating them for?

CARSTAIRS: Well, each one was awful sick Chief, and I know that penicillin helps sick people get better.

GILLUPSIE: It certainly does, Carstairs. I think you acted wisely.

CARSTAIRS: And the deaths, Chief?

GILLUPSIE: Bad patients, son, bad patients. There's nothing a good doctor can do about bad patients. And there's nothing a good medicine can do for bad patients, either.

CARSTAIRS: But still, I have a nagging feeing that perhaps they didn't need penicillin, that they might have needed something else.

GILLUPSIE: Nonsense! Penicillin never fails to work on good patients. We all know that. I wouldn't worry too much about it, Carstairs.

Perhaps our playlet needs no further elaboration, but we want to underscore some of its points. First, had we continued the conversation between Dr Gillupsie and his young surgeons, we could easily have included a half dozen other 'reasons' for inflicting upon children the kinds of irrelevant curricula that comprise most of conventional schooling. For example, we could have had one doctor still practicing 'bleeding' his patients because he had not yet discovered that such practices do no good. Another doctor could have insisted that he has 'cured' his patients in spite of the fact that they have all died ('Oh, I taught them that, but they didn't learn it'). Still another doctor might have defended some practice by reasoning that, although his operation didn't do much for the patient now, in later life the patient might have need for exactly this operation, and if he did, voila!, it will already have been done.

The second point we would like to make is that we have not made up these 'reasons'. Our playlet is a parody only in the sense that it is inconceivable for doctors to have such conversations. Had we, instead, used a principal and his teachers, and if they discussed what was taught during the week, and why, our playlet would have been a documentary, and not a heavy-handed one, either. There are thousands of teachers who believe that there are certain subjects that are 'inherently good', that are 'good in themselves', that are 'good for their own sake'. When you ask 'Good for whom?' or 'Good for what purpose?' you will be dismissed as being 'merely practical' and told that what they are talking about is literature qua literature, grammar qua grammar, and mathematics per se. Such people are commonly called 'humanists'.

There are thousands of teachers who teach 'subjects' such as Shakespeare, or the Industrial Revolution, or Geometry because they, are inclined to enjoy talking about such matters. In fact, that is why they became teachers. It is also why their students fail to become competent learners. There are thousands of teachers who define a 'bad' student as any student who doesn't respond to what has been prescribed for him. There are still thousands more who teach one thing or another under the supposition that the 'subject' will do something for their students which, in fact, it does not do, and never did, and, indeed, which most evidence indicates, does just the opposite. And so on.

The third point we would like to make about our analogy is that the 'trouble' with all these 'reasons' is that they leave out the (patient) learner, which is really another way of saying that they leave out reality. With full awareness of the limitations of our patient-learner metaphor, we would assert that it is insane (literally or metaphorically, take your pick) to perform a pilonidal-cyst excision unless your patient requires it to maintain his comfort and health; and it is also insane (again, take your pick as to how) for a teacher to 'teach' something unless his students require it for some identifiable and important purpose, which is to say, for some purpose that is related to the life of the learner. The survival of the learner’s skill and interest in learning is at stake. And we feel that, in saying this, we are not being melodramatic.

 from 'Teaching As A Subversive Activity' by Neil Postman & Charles Weingartner


tea with sugar gives me the cramps