Thursday, March 10, 2005
Pavlov's Dogs - an untold story.
I'm saved ....and I'm a dog again!
It is a faint hope that our traditional secondary schools will change of their own accord to ensure that all their students leave school able to thrive in what will be an unpredictable but potentially exciting world.
It is a lot easier to blame their pupils for their own failure.
It will require a real sense of urgency to shock schools to change, and for the wider community to appreciate that schools, in their present shape, are the real problem and that new thinking is required.
Courage and leadership will be required to help shape a new vision of an education system suitable for the 21stC. As one writer said, ‘Our schools are OK if it were 1965’.
It is a shame that we need dramatic shocks for us to change. It took the carnage and unnecessary slaughter of World War One to develop in the ordinary man a distrust of god given authority – particularly of the old generals who were long past their ‘use by date’.
And after World War 2 returning troops came home determined to build a fairer more democratic world. And woman war factory workers were equally reluctant to return to being housekeepers.
The best example of being shocked into change however is the story of Pavlov’s dogs. Everyone knows how he was able to condition dogs to drool at the sound of a bell but few know about what happened to his dogs in his laboratory in 1924.
On the 22nd of September of 1924 Pavlov’s laboratories in Leningrad were flooded. Pavlov’s dogs were forced to swim to the top of their low cells to avoid drowning. Pavlov’s assistants came to the panicking dogs rescue. The dogs then had to be submerged to be let out of their cells.
All the dogs wee saved but there were some quite exceptional consequences in some of the saved animals. In these animals the conditioned reflexes had disappeared as if they had never been formed.
This is exactly what happed to some troops when the imposed discipline broke down in War One. Pavlov’s dogs were retrained – the troops were shot by their ‘leaders’.
There is a message here for us?
Or have we all been conditioned to accept things as they are, to turn a blind eye to growing dysfunctional aspects of our communities and schools?
Surely we can think our way to a better future, or is the conditioning we have all had courtesy of our secondary schools, or by those whom the present situation currently benefits to strong?
If not, what will shock us into the future?