Friday, September 21, 2012

The Physical Education Brainwashing

[Note, in this article, I misuse the word "authority", which is why it links to an explanation.]
My daughter asked me for a note to get out of PE this morning.  She later explained that her P.E. teacher does trust her decision about whether or not to participate, but if she doesn't have a note, she doesn't get as many points.  In other words, part of the grade in P.E. comes from giving away the responsibility about what you do with your body to your parents, or to the teacher, who is then expected to control whether or not you participate, based on your input.

So I wrote her a note.  She has it, but I don't know if she'll use it.  It said something like this:

    My daughter should be trusted with the decision whether or not to participate in P.E.  She asked me to write this note because her ankle hurts.  Her request not to participate should be honored regardless of any notes from her parents.  It's an important part of growing up.
    Thanks, Dave Scotese
She read the note and I asked her what she thought of it.  She ignored my question, so I asked again, and this time she mumbled something.  "What?" I asked.  "I hate when you do that," she said.  She lost her appetite; she was going to eat a yogurt for breakfast but no longer wanted it.  This only puzzles me a little bit. 

I think the reason is that her teachers and parents are supposed to be on the same page, and here they are disagreeing.  They disagree about whether or not she should hold the sole responsibility about participating in a program designed (supposedly) to keep her fit.  The "normal" course of things is that the parents acquiesce to whatever the teachers decide, and the teachers decide whatever their bosses tell them to decide, and thus, the power rests at the top of the authority structure.  Kids get used to normal, and when things go otherwise, they become uncomfortable.  For the thugs in charge, this is a great setup because once people leave school, they have been conditioned to leave the important decisions in their lives up to the authorities, and stick with the status quo.

What effect does this have on the people themselves?  Well, just look around.  Economies grow because of the entrepreneurial spirit.  Entitlements grow because of political pandering.  Perhaps it is a stretch to claim that the P.E. programs in public schools are designed to keep the ruling class firmly entrenched by thwarting competition (the entrepreneurial spirit) and making people dependent on them through entitlement growth.

So I make a different claim: P.E programs like this are teaching kids who are just getting old enough to start being responsible for themselves that "they get more points" by appealing to their primary authority figures.  I claim that this lesson is bad for society.  I claim it because I believe (and have experience to back it up) that the vast majority of human beings are good and wish each other well, and thus, that ignoring authorities and making decisions without respect to or for them is one of the important trends that will support human progress.  We need more entrepreneurs and fewer entitlements.