Thursday, January 30, 2003

Dead Poets again
A reader writes:
That movie has always annoyed me too. It's the first of the interminable
and successful "Robin Williams vs. the Strawmen" franchise.

Quick question, though: If you're a teacher at a school that teaches children not to think for themselves, and you have a student with a psychotic and overbearing father, what is the ethical course in that sort of situation?
I answer: First, I wouldn't teach at such a school, if they exist. Second, if I did, I wouldn't engage in sneaky acts intended to undermine authority. I'd use due process to try to change the place, and if they wouldn't change, I'd quit. If something were criminal, I'd take appropriate action. As for the father, was he supposed to be psychotic? I can't remember the details enough. Maybe neurotic would be a better word. At any rate, overbearing fathers have been a problem for a long time. I should know. I am one. Or at least my kids tell me so.

The solution is not to undermine the authority of the father in the eyes of the son. You know, there are sometimes when the life of someone else and the direction it takes is beyond our legitimate control and under the control of someone else who is making decisions we wouldn't make. We've got to live with it, as long as it is within the reasonable bounds of law and morality. No 16 year old under the authority of his parents has the right to play Puck in Midsummer's Nights Dream. Sure, we can try to influence that direction by communicating with the authority, but sabotage is not the answer.

No comments: