Monday, December 10, 2018

An Anti-Gaslighting Curriculum

The following is a sample of Teacher Tom's patent-free anti-gaslighting curriculum (formerly known as his anti-BS curriculum):

"Oh look, we have three kinds of candy for snack."

"It's not candy, Teacher Tom."

"Yes, it is candy."

"No, it's not."

"It is candy . . . Look, there's peppermint candy, jelly candy, and this other kind of candy."

"No, this is celery. This is apples. And this is bell peppers."

"No, that's not right. That's all healthy food. This is kid food. Kids only eat candy."

"We do not! We eat healthy food!"

That's when I shake my head condescendingly, chuckling, "Oh dear, that's not right. Grown-ups eat healthy food and kids eat candy."

"It's not candy!"

"Listen, you're just kids. I'm the grown-up, so I know everything: kids eat candy. This is food for kids, therefor it's candy. Grown-ups don't even like candy."

"Taste it, Teacher Tom! Taste it and you'll know it's healthy food."

"I don't like candy. It will be too yucky for me."

"Taste it!"

"I already know it's candy. I don't need to taste it."

"Taste it!"

"Okay, I'll taste it, but I know I won't like it." I bring it slowly to my lips reluctantly, making an expression of anticipatory revulsion. After several seconds of hesitation, I finally touch it with my tongue. "Hey! This isn't candy at all. It's celery. I like celery." Then I look at them with as much know-it-all superiority as I can muster, "See? I told you this was all healthy food."

There is always a pause then as my most blatant lie sinks in. This is how BS artists and gaslighters do it: they lower their voices, chuckle knowingly, then claim that up is down, that black is white, that the sun sets in the east. They then count on the illusion of their authority to shut people up as they entertain their self-doubt. And there is always a brief moment when I fear it's going to work on the children I teach, but it never does. Someone will always break the silence to say, "No, we told you!"

Far too much of what happens in our schools is about obedience, learning to blindly follow, rather than question authority. This is fundamentally anti-democratic and it prepares children to be too easily gaslighted and BS'ed. It is not just the right of citizens to speak the truth as we see it, but our responsibility, especially when it means standing up to those in power, like teachers and elected representatives. I want the children I teach to listen to me and when I say something that doesn't fit with what they already know, I want them to know it's their job to call me on it, to question me, to make me either prove it or shut up. Those are the kinds of citizens I want alongside me in this grand project of self-governance.

I've just published a book! If you are interested in ordering Teacher Tom's First Book, click here. Thank you!

I put a lot of time and effort into this blog. If you'd like to support me please consider a small contribution to the cause. Thank you!
Bookmark and Share

No comments: