Article first published as Stepford Students on Technorati.
Across the country school administrators are addressing the safety concerns of parents. Districts are doing a great job installing security cameras and locks, and strategically assigning teachers at doorways to prevent evil doers from entering a building. These measures go a long way to ease concern, but could there be a different kind of danger growing inside the building?
Schools have always been on the lookout for students who were disassociated, alienated, or mentally ill. Until now, it’s felt like proactive measures to identify students needing help, but Sandy Hook changed everything. Now, it’s beginning to feel as if schools may be shifting their intention to scrutinizing students in an attempt to identify and remove potential future evil doers. Understandably, we all want to make sure that no one harms children like this again—ever. And yet without considering the human spirit and the unique qualities we encourage our children to explore, we may be missing something vital while we create a whole new danger to fear.
Controlling a Human
Remember the 1972 novel by Ira Levin, The Stepford Wives? Written at the height of the feminist movement, it fictionalized the lengths to which some would be willing to go to maintain control. In Stepford, husbands banded together to enforce limits on the interests, achievements, and behaviors of their wives. The husbands felt threatened by their wives who were exploring the possibility of becoming something more than homemakers. Once the husbands realized that people can’t be controlled, they substituted their wives for something that could be controlled—robots.
Welcome to Stepford
What are the implications of a community focused on finding problems? They find problems. What are the implications of a child who is different in such a community? The child can become a problem found. Thinking back to The Stepford Wives, I wonder what it must feel like to consider moving a family to a small upper-middle class community these days. Stepping into a tightly monitored system with narrowly defined expectations about your child’s interests, achievement, and behavior could feel dangerous.