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Topics - Joseph W. Gauld

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Hyde Schools / Is my Beloved Hyde School a CULT?
« on: February 04, 2008, 04:44:32 PM »
Awright, ya knuckleheaded nimrods, har-de-har har har!! By populus demand, here's yer poll! Now, vote!! Vote!! Vote!!

Beloved Father Figure to y'alls, I'm a sher,
Joseph W. Gauld, The Educator

Hyde Schools / For The Love of Paul Hurd
« on: September 28, 2007, 02:52:18 PM »
Paul is a very special young man to me, har har.  Forever grateful that I was able to facilitate the return of his self-respect, not to mention get that shrill mother of his off his butt.  Some people seem to think he was inspiration for my terms of "candy-assed panty-waist," or "ass-kissing gutless wonder," but I think they might be reading too much into it.

That mom of his, I should say, is actually one fine woman.  Reminds me a lot of another fine mom, that Nancy Reagen there, in both looks and voice... Har-de-har har!!  Ole' Nancy and her hubby there, God bless his kind righteous soul, had the right idear 'bout you younguns':  yer all druggie good fer nuttin's!  Ya need some hard-ass discipline to set you straight!!  I tell ya, when I heard 'bout my fine former protegy Paul smackin' that liver-bellied Swear-what's-his-name, I near about died with pride!  I offered him a trip to Hawaii!  Finally, that man showed some gumption and follow-through...

Anyway, I thought y'all might want to hear 'bout Paul, and how he came to be at Hyde, and how he progressed from being just a "nice (lazy) kid" to a true believer in Brother's Keeper and what not.  This is from my first best-seller, Character First, published by some of my right-wing friends on the left coast.  We begin Chapter Two:

In my own mind, I graduated from high school a flat failure.  I had been shot down at all three of my college choices.  I couldn't believe it.  I thought I had done all the right things:  maintained a B+ average for three years, been active in student government, joined a variety of clubs, represented my high school at Boys State, and lettered in three varsity sports.  Where had I gone wrong?[/list]Part of the answer was a pair of mediocre scores on his College Boards.  But Paul hints at another reason:
    In late January, the school guidance counselor called me in to express his distress:  "Paul, you are simply applying way over your head.  None of these colleges will give serious consideration to your scores... Frankly, Paul, we cannot give strong support and recommendation to your present applications."

    I began to perceive the real problem:  How could any college think I was worth taking a chance on against the damning evidence that my own high school wouldn't express pride or strong conviction about my accomplishments or about me?
    [/list]Paul's parents weren't wealthy, but they were committed to the best education possible for their son.  They, too, were stunned and confused that Paul, after a seemingly successful high school career, was unable to win a spot at a top-notch college.

    As graduation neared, the family had to decide what to do next.  Paul's father, a tireless optimist, came home one day in May with information about prep schools that offered post-graduate programs for students like Paul who needed an extra year of preparation to make themselves more attractive college candidates.  Within a week, Paul began a round of interviews.  One of the schools put him on a waiting list, but the headmaster recommended that Paul consider a new private school called Hyde, which was about to open in his hometown.  He and his father soon arrived at my office for an interview.

    The Admissions Interview

    The Hyde concept of unique potential requires us to assume that every student is capable of excellence, given the right attitude, effort, and support.  So we need to admit students not on their past records but on what they are ready and willing to do.  A vigorous, in-depth interview has become almost our only criterion for admission.

    The interview had little to do with academics but everything to do with whether a student and his family were ready and willing to face themselves and one another to pursue life at a deeper level.  To determine if candidates could take an honest look at themselves, we would probe their attitudes toward themselves, family members, school, teachers, friends, and life in general.  How did they view their own characters, strengths, and weaknesses?  Did they know what they wanted out of life?  If not, did they believe we could help them discover it?  Could we reach their deeper feelings during the interview?  How did they handle it when we did?  The interview became a powerful learning experience that revealed how each candidate would ultimately react at Hyde.

    We knew we had to explore parental attitudes and beliefs to determine whether we had a potential partnership with the family.  For this reason, we had parents observe the entire interviewing process.  (In later years we would interview parents as well and would discover that parents are the single most important factor in determining the ultimate success or failure of our efforts at Hyde.)  Their reactions revealed our common ground and areas of disagreement that needed to be explored.  The understanding and concern we showed during the interview helped parents to trust us later when the going got tough--which it often did.

    Paul's Interview

    Paul describes our interview:
      When we settled into soft chairs on the sun porch, I leaned back in expectation of another detached, casual chat about college.  After several quick questions about family and success in school, Mr. Gauld dropped a bomb.

      "Why do you want to go to college?"

      At first I thought he was kidding.  Doesn't everybody want to?  Nobody had ever asked me that question, least of all myself.  I was panicked.

      "To be able to get a better job," I ventured.

      "Is that the most important thing to you?"

      "Well, no it's not exactly the most important..."

      "Well, what kinds of things so you want out of your life?"

      I was beginning to feel rattled.  I glanced at my father and was struck by his intentness.  After my detached interviews at other schools, spent talking about the weather, grades, and Board scores, these questions swept me off balance and left me at sea.

      However, Joe bailed me out of my embarrassment, commenting: "Those are probably questions you should be considering more and more at the age of seventeen."  I thought I noticed my father nod.

      Later, I asked a few limp questions about courses and sports and felt as though I were asking an architect how screws and washers fit together...
      [/list]Paul's parents were obviously dedicated to helping their son discover the best in himself, and our interview clearly revealed Paul's desire to succeed.  But it also pointed to a deeper lack of self-confidence.  Paul had met his school's academic standards, had been active in school life, and had become a "nice" kid, but deep down was left unchallenged.  By his own admission, he had not lived up to his potential in high school:  "I felt that very few of my high school performances characterized my best shot; at times I was guilty of sheer laziness."

      I felt sure that Paul's lack of self-confidence had come through in his college interviews and had contributed to his rejections.  In the absence of high test scores, there was nothing to distinguish him from the hundreds of other "nice kids" who were competing for admission.  Much to his surprise, I told Paul I thought he'd be a good candidate for Hyde.  His father remarked to his son, "We have a lot to think about."

      The following week, Paul's mother visited with me.  She went home that evening "ruffled but impressed," remarking to Paul, "He has a little nerve after one interview telling me there are a lot of things you need to face, but he also said that he couldn't imagine you being unable to handle the work at any college."

      "From then on," Paul writes, "there was little question where I would take my postgraduate year, even when I was later accepted at one of my earlier choices."

      A Test of Character

      For a while, things went smoothly for Paul at Hyde.  By the end of the first month, he was voted class president, had become a two-way starter in football, and was recognized as a serious student.  Writing about those early days, he recalls that he was "floating along in a bubble of complacency."  But the bubble soon burst as Paul met with his first test of character.

      Another student asked Paul for copies of the French homework he'd missed due to a week-long illness; Paul complied.  He recalls:  "I didn't see any harm in helping him get caught up, and I was eager for his approval.  He and several others had been outspoken in their criticism of my faculty relationships, and their criticism needled me.  'Sellout' was a title I couldn't stomach."

      Before long other students approached Paul about "help" with their French homework.  Paul gave in once again, rationalizing, "It's only homework.  If they copy it, that's their problem, not mine.  And besides, I'm only trying to help."  Soon he was regularly circulating homework to about half the class.  Although he had hoped to gain their friendship by doing so, he noticed that he "seemed to be losing instead of gaining their confidence and, more important, their respect.  I felt used."

      In mid-January a classmate, applying the Brother's Keeper principle, turned Paul in.  Paul was furious:
        I felt betrayed, and profound resentment at what seemed to be a conspiracy to set me up and ruin a perfect year.  I was in a rage.  How could people do this to me?  How could I have wound up in this spot with such good intentions?  I wasn't a cheater!

        But the seriousness of Mr. Gauld's manner soon scared me past anger.  I quickly admitted I'd been lending my homework to a few people to help them out.  But if cheating was going on, I maintained, it was the fault of those borrowing, not mine.

        He hit the roof and I wanted to run:  "Do you really feel they can cheat without your compliance?  Is this the kind of leadership you feel your class and the school need?  People put their faith in you to help set some direction, and how have you respected that?

        "Consider the injustice done to your classmates.  They may gain the grade, but because only you did the work, only you have truly learned.  So while you progress, they fall further behind."

        I felt that he just didn't understand the whole situation.  I had been losing my classmates' confidence and wanted them to understand I cared.  But when I told him this, somehow it didn't feel quite right.

        "Are you trying to be a leader or trying to be popular?  There's a big difference.  One requires courage, the other just a good sense of smell."

        Courage--so this was what we were really talking about.  I felt stupid.  Someone was holding a mirror in front of me and the reflection showed a pretty fair coward.

        I just sat there, stunned.  Finally, Mr. Gauld broke the silence:  "You see, Paul, you are the worst culprit in this situation.  If you had simply said no, no one would have been compromised.  Don't try to duck what is your absolute responsibility."
        [/list]This incident confirmed to Paul that Hyde "obviously meant business on a deeper level that I had been ready to deal with."  The experience made a profound impression on him.  From this point on he began to trust in himself on a deeper level and to follow his own inner direction rather than following the crowd.

        Like most of his peers, Paul had tried to get into a top college in order to "get a better job."  Now he began to examine himself and his values more deeply:  "Strangely enough, I became so preoccupied with setting things right at school that my interest in college admissions cooled.  I even considered that Bowdoin, the college I had earlier set my heart on, might not be the right place for me, something no one could have convinced me of the year before."

        After his year at Hyde, Paul did reapply for admission to Bowdoin.  While his College Board scores were only marginally better this time, in his admissions interview he clearly distinguished himself as being a confident young man who knew himself and what he wanted out of life.  He was accepted at Bowdoin.

        Applying the Brother's Keeper Principle

        To be turned in by another student for cheating would have been unthinkable in Paul's previous school.  But at Hyde, the principle of Brother's Keeper requires students to hold one another accountable for achieving their best.

        Brother's Keeper is one of the hardest principles for incoming students to accept.  The larger society's "rights" morality allows kids to hide behind the I-don't-rat-on-my-buddies ethic, which simply masks their fear of responsibility toward and deeper involvement with one another, as well as their doubts that such idealism can actually work.  Students will readily maintain standards when given a specific role like that of a proctor, but they feel any deeper show of specific concern for others would be resented and rejected.

        But I know that kids will eventually respect a real stand on principles and beliefs.  In the early days of Hyde I had endlessly explained why I prohibited smoking--but with limited success.  Nevertheless, in time the kids slowly accepted and even respected my stand against the cigarette industry's exploitation of youth.  So I clung to the Brother's Keeper concept and slowly made converts.  When enough kids internalize such a concept, it is almost magical how they help new students to accept the concept virtually overnight.

        Character First:  The Hyde School Difference[/i] by Joseph W. Gauld, pp 33-39 (ICS PRESS, 1993)

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