The Milgram Experiments demonstrated that normal people can easily do nasty things to other people if an expert tells them what to do. The Stanford Prison Experiment showed that normal people act like sadistic guards when placed in a “prison-like” environment. Today, in New Brunswick, we are making our schools more like prisons. Video surveillance cameras will be installed in all high schools in School District 2.
Of course, we have been assured that the cameras will only be used ethically and in the best interests of the students; but power corrupts. No public consultations preceded this decision. Video surveillance is one more control tool to be used “against” students, without their consent. Treat people like prisoners and sure as anything, they will start to act like prisoners.
Alternatives to technologies of control are available, cheaper and more ethical. First, build smaller schools, where everyone can feel at home. The maximum number of students per school should be 150 [Dunbar’s number]. Getting all teachers out of the staff room and into the halls, interacting with students, might put a more human face on the institution as well. Give students increasing amounts of control so that by Grade 12 they are able to make their own decisions about curriculum, homework, study time, etc. The more control you have, the less you feel like a prisoner, isn’t that correct, Employee #12 in Cubicle Zone D?
It seems as if our education system is trying as hard as possible to disempower and alienate an entire generation.