Author Topic: Belittling Students - Hyde School - Letter to Editor - Maine Times 1992  (Read 1894 times)

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Offline survivorami

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Strong pushback from a parent when Hyde School tried to take over Gardiner Area High School in 1992:
Letter to the editor, Maine Times 1992-08-14:

It's time that I speak out about my reservations on the Gardiner-Hyde Project at Gardiner High School. Like many parents, my husband and I were at first curious, then more interested as we heard some things that we would like to see happen at the high school, and finally completely turned off.

Joe Gauld (the founder of the private Hyde School in Bath, who will implement his educational philosophy in the high school) is a manipulator par excellence. In large group meetings he deftly skirts around questions without completely answering them. I believe there is reason for our school board to look more closely into allegations of inappropriate and humiliating disciplines that have been made against the Hyde School in the past

Last winter the school board hesitated on accepting the program at Gardiner on a trial basis until they received more information. Gauld demanded he be given "carte blanche" or he would drop everything. The board caved in to his demands. I urge them to be stronger in the future and to be vigilant over the goings on of the Gardiner- Hyde Program.

Many of the Gardiner students who spoke with Hyde students were disturbed by the discipline program known as "my brother's keeper." Hyde students told them that students who knew that another student had broken a rule and did not tell were "shunned" for a certain period of time. The other students were not to acknowledge them in any way. I strongly disagree with this type of punishment or any other that uses humiliation. I asked Gauld in a meeting if this were indeed one of their forms of discipline. He said, "I hadn't heard that," and quickly turned to another hand that was raised.

Recently a student who did not wish to take part in an activity was made to do 100 pushups instead. What, I ask you, does that teach our children? It seems to me that the Hyde people deal with all students the same way. In his meetings with parents, Gauld always described students who could get good grades but had arrogant attitudes. His methods seem to have been borrowed from the Marines and could be harmful to fragile students who lack self-esteem.

The Gardiner-Hyde Program is taking place. From here on in. I would like the participants to win over advocates by example, not by the revivalist tone of many of the presentations. We have been promised that the rest of the student body would not be left out in any way and yet, on Step-up Day when eighth graders go to the high school for a tour of the building, only Gardiner-Hyde students conducted the welcoming tour.

Many teachers who first looked into the Hyde Program came away believing that there were aspects of this program that sounded worthwhile but other parts that were either undesirable or unworkable. Unfortunately, most staff members have not spoken out as forcefully as they might have out of fear for their jobs. There was never a forum to discuss whether or not the plan would be a go, only how to implement it I personally resent any implication that parents or teachers who do not support the Gardiner-Hyde Project are against change. That is a red herring and a way to silence dissent Other school districts have taken a broader look at goals for their schools.

Research shows that the school-with in-a-school concept does not work. Portland High School tried such a project a few years ago and it failed. The proponents of school-within-a- school projects usually believe that, little by little, others will come over to their side. In actuality, resentment grows, and the plan dies. According to the Kennebec Journal coverage of the Gardiner-Hyde Project, there are 150 students slated to start the project off in the fall. The mother of a student who is in the program recently told me there are 88. Who is telling the truth?

Gardiner Area High School, like most high schools today, needs to reassess where if s going in this decade. We need to help students, especially those in the "general" course programs, focus on their career goals. We need to do more to make students feel a part of the school and take responsibility for themselves. Proponents of the Gardiner-Hyde program say that is exactly what they are doing. I don't agree. Students currently participating in a summer program at Hyde must clean latrines and, if they don't perform this duty well enough, they are up at 5:30 for calisthenics. Having to sing solo in front of all your peers at breakfast does not impress me. The Hyde School teaches conformity and submission. As a reporter observed in Maine Times (8/2/74). "I was particularly puzzled because in all I had seen and read of Hyde there seemed to be a contradiction: on the one hand they believed in and were prepared to use force to exact conformity on the part of every student, on the other, they professed to believe in 'unique potential'".

The Hyde people have done one thing very well They have brought together parents who are scared and don't know what to do next with their adolescents. They have listened to these people instead of simply calling them in when the student has misbehaved and allowing them to feel like failures as parents. It is obvious that parents of adolescents who lead busy lives trying to hold down careers and juggle family responsibilities need to come together and talk. But the Hyde Program says. Trust us with your kids. If you are good parents, you will buy this whole program hook, line and sinker." Several parents I've met feel somewhat uneasy with some of the aspects of the program. I urge them to listen to their children and trust their own instincts.

As a guidance counselor, my goal has always been to help students believe in themselves and increase their self-esteem. Self-esteem is something reasonable people can observe in others by looking at degrees of assertiveness, ability to take risks, etc. Joe Gauld and Co. talk about character. Character is much more subjective and is far more value-laden. I can say someone has high self-esteem and yet not necessarily share their values. The people I judge to be of excellent character will probably be those who agree with me on political and social issues, spiritual belief, etc. What is character and how does the Hyde School define it? In the same Maine Times article, Gauld was asked how he determined his five qualities of character, i.e. courage, integrity, concern for others, curiosity and leadership and wouldn't another five have done as well? Gauld answered, "Sure."

Recently I came across several articles in the Maine Times written in the 70s and 80s about Gauld and the Hyde School. As I read them, I saw the same man I had seen this spring touting his Hyde program, spouting the same superficial philosophy, and looking for communities from Maine to Illinois to buy his program. It didn'
t appear that any school district had ever done anything more than express an interest before rejecting Joe and his all or nothing attitude.

There is no doubt that Joe Gauld today is the same fellow who operated Hyde School in 1974. One of his former teachers stated in the same article, "Joe has to dominate everyone. His approach is to find out a person's weakness. He grabs onto that, and no matter what type of progress a student makes, Joe always goes back to that weakness. He strips a person psychologically and gains control over them. Then he manipulates them to his values."

I won't describe all the physical forms of punishment Joe Gauld has considered to make kids "tough" or the descriptions of painful self-criticism seminars in which students are belittled by their peers until they are reduced to tears, but anyone can read these articles on microfiche at the Maine State Library or contact me for a copy.

I urge any community members to contact me who would like to work together to support our teachers, create a learning environment that emphasizes strengths and not weaknesses, and set goals for our schools that can help students become contributing members of the workplace.

Diane Potter, Gardiner ME


« Last Edit: January 09, 2024, 01:07:59 PM by survivorami »