June 29, 2005

Long-Haired Hippy Crap Watch

Jesus. Mary. Joseph. It's Operation Respect: Don't Laugh At Me (or "DLAM") and it's your New York City tax money at work:

Over the course of the next year, the Department of Education will introduce into all of its elementary and middle schools “Operation Respect: Don’t Laugh at Me,” an intensive curriculum in character development. The program, which is the brainchild and heart’s desire of Peter Yarrow, of Peter, Paul & Mary, aims to combat bullying by emphasizing the moral lessons of folk music.

(This is the same Peter Yarrow, as noted by Kimberly of No. 2 Pencil, who was convicted in 1970 of taking "immoral and improper liberties" with a 14 year old girl, but never mind.)

The whole project is based on a country song called "Don't Laugh At Me" sung a few years back by Mark Wills. I hated it at the time:

I'm a little boy with glasses
The one they call the geek
A little girl who never smiles
'Cause I've got braces on my teeth
And I know how it feels
To cry myself to sleep

I'm that kid on every playground
Who's always chosen last
A single teenage mother
Tryin' to overcome my past
You don't have to be my friend
But is it too much to ask

Don't laugh at me
Don't call me names
Don't get your pleasure from my pain
In God's eyes we're all the same
Someday we'll all have perfect wings
Don't laugh at me

Yarrow apparently heard the song at a folk festival, incorporated it into the PP&M reportoire, and went from there. Go read the article for the rest of the story about how these three stanzas of utter shlock are being translated into lessons at twelve thousand schools and camps around the country.

Lest you think the gooshiness is confined to the kids only, check out the teacher training curriculum:

A couple of Tuesdays ago, at a fusty Department of Education building in Brooklyn, Lynne Hurdle-Price and Mark Weiss, conflict-resolution experts, led a dlam training session for about two dozen middle-school teachers, whom they divided into five groups. “I want you all to share a time in your career as an educator where someone did or said something that made you feel like you were not cared for or respected,” Hurdle-Price said. Each teacher spent three minutes sharing. “Now do the opposite.” Hurdle-Price distributed paper and Magic Markers. She asked each group to draw an outline of a human figure, inscribing negative behaviors (“put-downs”) on the outside and positive behaviors (“put-ups”) on the inside, close to the heart. Each group then presented its finished product, a Caring Being, which, according to the DLAM teacher’s guide, would help the participants to “explore creating agreements around behaviors.”

Just about every single word in that paragraph makes me want to hurl a brick at something. Look, as Ace points out, it's wrong to take the knee-jerk position that bullying is a good thing and kids ought to just tough it out. But I promise you that the solution is not, repeat not, to wallow in the drippy pablum of a washed-up hippy, or as the New Yorker article so fawningly describes him, "a veteran of the civil-rights, gender-equality, nuclear-disarmament, peace, and Amtrak-subsidization movements".

Why is that? Joanne Jacobs, nails it:

My daughter encountered "Don't Laugh" when she interned with the California Education Department's violence prevention unit. She thought the song gives tips on who to pick on for callow bullies who don't realize that a classmate wearing glasses or braces is victim-worthy.

Want to stop bullying? Stop the bullies, don't turn their victims into uber-victims.

Bart: Hey, man. Can't we just explore creating agreements around our behaviors?

Nelson: I'll take it under advisement. (Punch!)

Meanwhile, Michelle Malkin is all over this story as well. She thinks it's a sinister plot by Lefty Peaceniks to condition our Young People to stand down when the godless hoards come flooding across the frontier. But before you start snickering, go check out the links she has to the DLAM website. She's not just making this stuff up.

UPDATE: Eloise the Spitbull spotted this as well. Heh, she said "grossocity".

Posted by Robert at June 29, 2005 02:41 PM

If weapons are displayed, the police ought to be called in and the miscreants expelled. Aside from that situation, the average schoolyard bully is deterred only when he is faced with superior force or at least the realization that the kicks he gets at pushing around the smaller kids will come at a price. I am talking as a former glasses-wearing seventh grader who was one of the smallest kids in the class. The ADR crowd now were the kids that never fought back either because they were too afraid or their parents convinced them not to do so. Just because you might not win your fights is not a reason to avoid them. Sometimes it is your willingness to fight if backed into a corner is enough to deter a bully.

Posted by: LMC at June 29, 2005 03:12 PM

Um, right now is the flippin' hayday of geeks and glasses wearers. Look at freakin' Bill "richest man on the planet" Gates.
And I'm not laughing at Malkin's theory. I would have at one time, but not anymore.

Posted by: rbj at June 29, 2005 04:19 PM

“I want you all to share a time in your career as an educator where someone did or said something that made you feel like you were not cared for or respected[.]”

How about every single day, and twice on payday? (I was a high school teacher.)

Posted by: j.d. at June 29, 2005 05:14 PM

Hate to jump on J.D.'s bandwagon, but that was my first thought, and I wanted to "share" that it's my students who try this tactic - not necessarily the ones who would have gotten away with it in grade school, either [I'm a tech college instructor]. It's usually the losers who have no other option for a decent wage and are about to be kicked off welfare. They are not grateful for their education, and I become "the Man" incarnate.

Posted by: tee bee at June 30, 2005 12:34 PM
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