Children Blamed for School ‘Slave Auction’

Image result for images of disorderly 5th grade classroom

Your public school tax dollars at work!

Fifth-grade kids at Jefferson Elementary School in Maplewood, NJ, have been blamed for holding an “impromptu” mock slave auction in their classroom ( ). Gosh, where could they have ever gotten the idea to do that? It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the way our public schools obsessively teach American history as a mere extension of slavery and wickedness, could it?

School officials say the regular teacher was out, a substitute was in, and it was all the children’s fault, there was no mock slave auction in the lesson plan, yatta-yatta.

As a former classroom teacher, I can tell you with certainty that even if the whole thing were, as school officials say, all the doing of the children in the class, they could not have done it unless all the children willingly participated. Otherwise it would’ve erupted into a brawl. No child could have been “sold” if he’d refused to go along with the make-believe. And now all the adults are rending their garments and loudly lamenting.

Believe me, public schools hammer it into children’s heads–slavery, slavery, slavery! Like it was the only thing that ever happened in America. I have seen this for myself.

Frankly, I suspect that the kids–if they were not directed from above–dreamed up this stunt as a way of goofing on the substitute.

And parents who love and respect their sons and daughters do not subject them to a public school education.

20 comments on “Children Blamed for School ‘Slave Auction’

  1. These children have apparently learned well what they’ve been taught. Another great reason to keep your children out of public schools – even kindergarten!

  2. There’s no doubt that slavery was a shameful thing. Apparently, however, the schools neglect to emphasize that from the very first days of the U.S. government there was a significant movement to abolish slavery. It became illegal in Massachusetts in 1783 and in much of the north by 1800.

    The southern states were the last to abolish slavery and, IIRC, nearly 600,000 northern soldiers gave their lives in the fight to force the issue. The fact that it ever happened was abominable, but that does not mean that all of the US was ever pro slavery.

    It saddens me that slavery ever existed here, but I am proud of the fact that there was a valiant fight against it. Should the story be taught in schools? Undoubtedly! However, perhaps some attention should be given to the efforts of good-hearted US citizens to force abolition of this practice. The war against slavery is as old as the earliest days of the US government.

    One other thought regarding this. There was no foregone conclusion that the original 13 colonies would ever coalesce into a union. It almost didn’t happen and the first constitutional convention quite nearly fizzled. The US was a union of 13 very disparate groups, each of which had their own take on the rules. Had they not been flexible, there would have been no union and North America would have probably been a collection of vassal colonies answering to various European nations.

    Th story of slavery in North America was neither simple nor monolithic. The good news is that we, as a nation, stood up to it and made it illegal.

    1. We basically inherited our slavery from the British, and King George made sure that slavery could not be outlawed in the Colonies. The complex issue of slavery couldn’t be addressed in Declaration of Independence without getting everyone on board. Besides they had bigger things to worry about at the time, like winning a war against the British. Thomas Jefferson actually addressed slavery directly in the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, but later omitted it for the reasons previously stated. But by mentioning that “all men were created equal”, it was was an indirect assault on slavery, and the first shot across the bow. The United States ended slavery a mere 86 years after its Independence, that’s an amazingly short period of time in the scheme of things, especially when compared with other countries.

    2. Well stated, Watchman. I know that Jefferson realized that slavery had to be ended, but he had to work within the framework of the times.

      Before independence, it was pretty much impossible to act against slavery, but once the US became independent the movement against slavery began in short order.

      I don’t believe that the US is perfect, blameless or free of corruption, we are quite human. Nonetheless, the US has moved towards greater compassion and freedom throughout most of its history.

      As DeToqueville said, our greatness was in our goodness. Sadly, the last fifty years or so have seen an ever-increasing assault on goodness, but there are still many good people here that want to do the right thing. I just strive to be one of them.

    3. That seems to be the case in the current day. When I was in school there was a degree of patriotism present, but the history they taught was, at best, paper thin.

      IMHO, the whole concept of public schools is flawed. I highly esteem true education, but locking kids into a building for six hours or so every day strikes me as a foolish notion at best. Couple onto that the hand-wringing about short attention-spans, discipline problems and plugging literacy rates and I have to wonder why so few people are questioning the entire approach.

      My mother taught me the basics of reading when I was 3-4 years old. My father helped me to understand math. I was excellent at both as a child and remain strong in both areas. The music, aviation and networking I’ve worked at all require these two foundational skills and I’m thankful for them, but I learned very little about these in public school.

      How about more teaching from family members? How about true mentoring by people with real-world experience? There are some great teachers in the system, but they are hobbled by over regulation and the overall failures of the school system.

      Perhaps, most importantly; why can’t children learn by pursuing their interests? My education since high school has mostly come from exploring my interests and branching out my skills. Want to fly a plane? Better have your math in order, up to and including some basic trigonometry. Interested in the world around you and why various nations, cultures, etc. exist? It won’t be long before you are knee deep in history, and it will mean something to you, because you are supporting an established interest.

      My interest in aviation led me to study airplanes of all sorts. Many airplanes are military in origin and the study of military aircraft led me to the Cold War. The Cold War can’t be understood without understanding WW II, which in turn leads to WW I. This chain has led me to the days of the Romans, the Greeks and to the dispersion of the northern Ten Tribes in 722 BC. Not bad for a guy that just wanted to learn about the SR-71 airplane. 🙂

    4. The trouble with teaching only (and I stress “only,” also adding “mostly”) by letting children learn by pursuing their own interests is that they have no way of knowing all the possibilities without being introduced to things they wouldn’t have thought of considering.

      I’m afraid one of the causes of student ignorance these days is precisely the idea of so-called “student-centered” education, developed by left-wing education theorists, as opposed to what they called the “banking” idea of “depositing” information in students. In other words, we must let the students explore and determine what they want or need to know, rather than handing on knowledge to them.

      Again, it’s hard to look for something if you don’t know it exists. That’s why I usually lectured in my undergraduate classes, rather than playing hunt-and-peck with students who had no way of knowing anything about the material I’d spent years studying, not even enough to think of looking it up. (I taught mostly 16th and 17th century England.) That’s also why I urged them to shelf-browse (either actual shelves or in catalogs or indexes and footnotes of each piece they read) when they started a research project, rather than using a search engine to look up specific information. In fact, I often told my graduate students that if they already knew exactly what to look for when they began their research, they’d made up their minds about their findings in advance, and therefore all their research was suspect.

      I’ve often noted that sometimes the most important material is material I’d never have thought of looking for, and some of my most cherished interests have come from something I would never have touched with a ten-foot pole until someone took away the pole and made me get up close to it.

    5. I think we may be in parallax to,some degree. I do understand that children need to be introduced to many things including subjects which don’t interest them. But I have an ethical objection to giving negative marks to a student who isn’t able to perform well in an area which is naturally difficult for them.

      I am very poor at graphic arts. It’s just not in me to create anything worthwhile in this area. I am essentially dysgraphic. During my K-12 days I was derided, accused of laziness, impugned as lazy and literally ridiculed because of something that no amount of practice can change. I would spend hours of my own time trying to improve my graphic skills, but to no avail.

      This affected my educational career to the negative and left me without confidence. English credits were all but impossible for me to collect, although I did quite well on the reading side of the ledger. History was not a problem, likewise social studies and geography. Subjects of true interest were very simple. There was an aviation course which has served me to this day. About two weeks into that one semester course I had a burst appendix and missed at least a month of school, I still passed with very high grades. However, to English teachers I was stupid and lazy and several of them had no problem whatsoever with dressing me down and ridiculing me.

      Then, all of a sudden, computers came along and I could write as well as anyone else. In a matter of a couple years, I became the guy that was called upon to write letters on behalf of my employer because of my skill with words.

      So where was the problem? I was judged upon skills that I simply do not possess. I’m in my sixties and can print passably if I take time to do so, but I’m still not good at writing or drawing by hand and I’m not holding my breath for that to improve. I head a department where I work and am responsible for several hundred thousand dollars every year. I am anything but lazy.

      I was exposed to a one size fits all education system which failed me miserably. After high school, my education started in earnest and I learned quite rapidly. There were a handful of teachers that I remember with great fondness. I looked up one of the younger teachers a few years back and called to thank her. I was in it’d over to her home and we spent a very nice afternoon talking about subjects of mutual interest.

      I don’t mind the notion of children being exposed to many different fields as a way to help them expand their interests, but I stand vehemently opposed to judging them based upon their performance in areas which are of little or no interest to that individual.

      If there is to be any organized form of education, it should deal with the fundamentals of literacy, mathematics etc. and leave the character building, mind expanding elements to life experience.

      While I agree completely that children should be expected to learn and not be given passing grades unless they earn them, I do not support the notion that one size fits all. I was the dumbest guy in class if the course that relied heavily upon handwriting but I was the smartest guy in courses which did not depend upon graphic skills.

      If there was any failure there it was mutual. I may have failed at graphic skills, but the education system failed me and wasted many years of my life. Had I been allowed to pursue my interests I would have excelled in engineering-related subjects and music, which is precicisely what I did after high school. Most of what I got out of the public shcool system could have been accomplished in 2-3 years.

      The rest of that time was an absolute waste. Had I been allowed to pursue my interests I would have ten years greater experience in the subjects which matter in my life if I’d been able to pursue them at my pace, and not the pace of a classroom full of children, most of whom had other interests.

    6. The most important lesson taught by public schools–and this goes back to the beginning of public education, first in Germany and then in America, where our theorists were greatly influenced by German theories of education–is that your age-group peers are the most important people in your life. This is what does the most damage, breeds the most conformity, and undermines the family. It was always the goal of America’s foremost education theorists, going back into the 19th century.

      Believe it or not, 100 years ago the most committed and effective opposition to the education theorists came from… the teachers’ unions! How times change. But it’s true that up until recently, ordinary decent teachers protected the children from the more crack-brained experiments hatched by nuts in ivory towers.

      And once upon a time the teacher was hired by the community and taught in a one-room schoolhouse with kids of all ages in the classroom. They couldn’t have applied “one size fits all” even if they’d wanted to!

  3. Amen Lee!

    There are extensive archives of letters written to, from and about Civil War soldiers and in many cases they could be quite eloquent. Many of these people were taught in one room schools and in many cases their teacher was probably a woman in he late teens or early twenties whom possessed basic literacy and strived to impart her skills to the students.

    The schools, as we have them now, are designed to teach conformity, obeisance to the clock and unquestioning respect of all authority figures, whether legitimate or arbitrary.

    When I remember school, most of what I remember was being locked in a classroom, bored to tears while CRAVING the opportunity to actually learn something of interest. Had I been able to pursue interests on my own, I would have been exposed to all sorts of new experiences and, perhaps most importantly, I would have seen where the dead ends were much earlier in life. Not all of my interests panned out, but those were lessons taught by experience alone.

    Perhaps most importantly, the schools hold one to a schedule that is not realistic. Had I been tested on reading and math comprehension, I would probably have tested out of grade school entirely somewhere around second or third grade.

    If I had been given the opportunity to apply mathematics to real world situations it would have been more compelling to me and I may have pursued it to a greater degree. The aviation course I had in 11th grade was such an opportunity and it was quite good for me. However, that was one course, for one semester, and not typical of my overall experience.

    It is my opinion that the educational system is irreparable and should be replaced completely. I’m all for education, but let it be true education, not simply the forced conformity of our current system.

    1. Here’s another “me too.” And this is one of the problems I encountered when I went back to graduate school after 15 years away from college, and then into college teaching: The trend was not to have students read a lot, but to have them write from inside themselves, i.e., the “invention” portion of rhetoric carried to extremes, plus the Paolo Friere rejection of “banking” knowledge in students. I suppose that’s why I responded as I did to UnKnowable earlier. Students can’t write from inside themselves if there’s nothing there to write from.

      Actually, I’m opposed to the “one size fits all” schooling myself, although I do think there are basics that everyone should be taught and even force-fed if necessary. (Hint: basic arithmetic including times tables, spelling, grammar, geography, REAL history, etc.)

      And I know there are some things that an individual simply can’t manage — sometimes physical limitations, sometimes mental — but he should still be exposed to them so he at least knows the things exist and roughly how they work. I’m embarrassed to say that I just missed making summa cum laude in college because I kept failing PE. (No depth perception; couldn’t master badminton, field hockey, softball, or anything else that required seeing small objects at varying distances, and my college had no choice of phys ed activities.)

      Here’s another argument against public school assembly line education. My beloved cousin Russ (now deceased), who was a math genius, once got very mediocre scores on a standardized math exam. Fortunately, he was at one of New York City’s special high schools, where students really were treated as individuals. When his counselor asked him about the answers he’d gotten “wrong” (note scare quotes), he said he’d thought the questions were too easy, so there must be a trick involved, and he’d worked out elaborate ways of refiguring the problems to come up with his answers — which turned out to be right, once his methods were applied. If he’d been at a regular public high school, no one would have taken the trouble.

      This is all fascinating stuff, isn’t it? I wish we could all get together and sit around talking about it in person. Anyone happen to have a transporter handy?

    2. I would’ve given a lot to get out of taking chemistry in high school.

      But a funny thing happened with our chemistry final. I was failing, of course, and the final exam was to count for half of our grade for the whole marking period. Each of us was given an unlabeled substance and two hours in which to identify it in the lab.

      Because chemistry for me went in one ear and out the other, of all the various tests we were taught throughout the year, I only remembered one! (And that from junior high, no less.)

      And guess what my unknown substance turned out to be? It only took me five minutes to apply the single test I knew, instead of two hours. You should’ve seen the look on Mr. Dennison’s face when I handed in my answer! Leester aces the final and is spared a failing grade!

    3. Phoebe, I can relate to your cousin’s experiences completely. I have a great affinity for math, and it’s higher disciplines, but the way these subjects are taught in the schools did me no good whatsoever. I passed those courses on the basis of native ability and with hardly any input from the instructors. When I attempted to peer into these materials for deeper understanding I usually ended up worse off than when I started. I can perform applied algebra instinctively, but have a heckuva time with the way it is taught in schools.

      If a man that can successfully an airplane (including compensating for crosswinds, the effects of elevation upon indicated airspeed and numerous other factors) is challenged by a basic algebra course, where doe the problem lie. It’s obvious that I can do the work and apply it properly, I would have never received my pilot’s certificate had I not. However, according to the standardized testing at my nearby community college I am a complete washout at higher math.

      I see the educational system much as I see the mainstream of organized religions. Religions talk about God and in many cases are operated by truly devout people. But being a good church member does not equate to worship. There are people that worship without an organized church and there are church members whom are anything but devout. Fitting into a particular church is very much a social endeavor as much as it is an endeavor of true worship from the heart.

      I don’t want to be guilty of tarring the entire educational system with the same brush. There are fine, brilliant teachers that love to teach and truly want to help students to learn. There are a handful in my past and I feel both deep affection and gratitude towards these people.

      One thing I find quite perplexing with regard to the education system is an attitude that if they didn’t teach it to you, then you couldn’t possibly understand the subject. From an early age, I had a fairly advanced vocabulary. I was reprimanded for this on more than one occasion and basically told that I could utilize my vocabulary only when I had been formally educated in it. To say that this was disheartening is an understatement. I rapidly came to the conclusion that the schools were not at all interested in my learning, but were instead interested in pressing me into their mold.

      I agree completely that the basics “arithmetic including times tables, spelling, grammar, geography, REAL history, etc.” are essential and I believe that every child should be taught these things as early as practical, notwithstanding the limitations that some may have, mental handicaps, reading disorders, etc. But I also think that once a child can prove that they’ve achieved these things, they should be free to pursue education as they see fit. That may sound cavalier, but I think it can work well.

      In grade school I was interested in cars, motorcycles, airplanes and the like. Had I been allowed to apprentice in a motorcycle shop, I would have had to learn more about math. (Engines and geometry are inseparable.) I would have been exposed to a lot of real world applications of my reading, mathematical and reasoning skills. I doubt that I would have made a career of repairing motorcycles, but learning the basics of the trade would have been useful. By seventh grade I had an old beater of a motorcycle and, guess what? I did my own repairs and have benefited from the experience ever since.

      When I was 17 years old I learned that I wasn’t cut out to be a drywall installer. That lesson took one day. 🙂 A month later I discovered that I shouldn’t be a glazier, although that took two weeks. At the time these seemed like failures, but they were true learning experiences. I loved the outdoors, physical aspects of construction work, but it didn’t agree with me in the long run.

      While I think it is fine for young people to be exposed to many different things, I think it is fundamentally unjust to grade them based upon their success at subjects for which they have no affinity. I respect ballet dancers and would argue that they are some of the strongest and most skilled athletes on earth. If you were to grade me on my skills at ballet I would fail miserably. There is no reality in which a guy built like a lumberjack is going to excel at ballet.

      I have seen people placed in ridiculous situations for which they are not suited in the name of training, expanding comfort zones, etc. One particular situation comes to mind when a morbidly obese coworker was subjected to performing a physical task that was impossible for a person of such size to perform, all in the name of expanding comfort zones. This was truly sad, to see a very nice person exposed to a compulsory activity which accentuated the fact that they were severely overweight. The employee in question could probably have won a lawsuit against that particular employer.

      I think that the crux of the matter is personal dignity. Even children have boundaries and it is a mistake to assume that their boundaries are not valid, just because they are children. If some stupid icebreaking exercise at an employee training can violate the dignity of an adult, perhaps placing a child under peer pressure would be every bit as much a violation of their dignity, and at an age when they are less able to cope with such a thing.

      This leads me back to an earlier point; is forcing children away from their parents and into schools operated by strangers the best way to bring about education and I, for one must say no. I believe that basic skills of reading and math can be taught in the home. If the parents lack these skills there are probably neighbors or relatives that can lend assistance and the child has the advantage of learning from persons whom they know and trust. Beyond basic skills, there may be a place for a degree of institutionalized education, but I think that mentorship and apprenticeship are very valuable and should be brought back into the mainstream.

    4. I struggled with arithmetic and math all through grade school and high school; and yet now I feel like I could probably re-learn algebra and geometry with hardly any problem at all.

      People change. For me, public school was mostly without any redeeming value. Most of my early teachers were dreadful; most of the later ones ranged from good to very good indeed. I did better with good teachers than with bad ones. And most people consider me quite a good teacher. Even my students thought so.

      I think “school” as a societal institution needs to be scaled back, taken out of the hands of government, out of the hands of hoity-toity educators, must involve whole families much more than it does now, with good teachers honored and rewarded and bad ones chased out of town. Above all, **take a lot of the money out of it**!

    5. I have to say that I had SOME very great teachers and these truly helped me. There was one named Mrs. Judge whom I remember with great fondness. She reached me and helped me, but that was because she was a loving and generous person. My grade school music teacher was wonderful, as well as Mr. Hall, my sixth grade teacher. My high school choir teacher is someone I consider a personal friend, although I don’t have much opportunity to visit her these days. Mr Lloyd taught me both aviation and history and was quite effective in both. Those are the good ones.

      I had several grade school teachers whom were poor at the very least. My 10th grade band teacher was truly abusive. He’s probably long dead, but he was a pitiful excuse for a human in his living days. He would openly ridicule and shame anyone he didn’t like, and that included many students.

      But I must agree, schools, as an institution, are out of control and need to be curtailed sharply. I’ve personally known several teachers and at least some of them have an attitude of entitlement based upon the self-perceived vitalness of their profession. Sorry, no sale. I’m no better than the work I perform and I think that tenure is a dangerous concept.

      I think that Linda’s father had it right. My father helped me to discover fine music, photography and the rules that govern electricity and electronics. He was one of the best teachers in my life, and his formal education was interrupted by The War, never to be continued. He had talents I have never dreamed of possessing and he shared his knowledge freely. Without him, and without some pretty great uncles, I would never have learned half as much.

  4. My parents were very Catholic and sent me to Catholic schools from 1st grade through 12th, and since I did not attend any ‘higher learning’ institutions (could there be an underlying message in ‘institutions’? lol), I avoided public education altogether. And while I ran as fast as possible away from the Catholic Church, I do feel that I received a wonderful education there. And my dad was a big believer in education by experience – we visited local museums – history, science, art, philharmonic, etc. And he believed there was a lesson to be had in most everything, from nature trails to the World’s Fair to the moon landing. Now that’s an education 🙂

    1. I taught at a Catholic school, a little bit, and it was wonderful. Sixth grade there was equal to 11th grade in public school. Those kids were a pleasure to teach.

    2. Discipline was measured with sincere caring for their students. When it was time for high school, I was sent to an all girls’ Catholic high school, which, at first, I balked at. After the freshman year, returning was by invitation only and boy was I fretting all summer until my invitation arrived in the mail. I loved my high school and my teachers, many of whom were Franciscan Nuns.

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