Schooling can be bad for your health.

Especially if you are an adolescent woman.  Christine Halse at the University of Western Sydney has been conducting research on the impact of schooling on young women, especially concerning anorexia.  The paper is in the journal Gender and Education, 19(2), 219-235.  The whole story is told in her book Inside Anorexia, which is co-authored with Anne Honey and Desiree Boughtwood.

The problem is:

promoting a culture of high achievement, competition and self-discipline that is carried into the eating habits of vulnerable teenagers

These are of course the very qualities which schools use to promote themselves.  They are values deeply embedded in our culture.  And it is the culture of schools that is the problem.

School bells, timetables, fixed meal times, assignment deadlines and controlled exams created a regimented environment that students extended to their eating habits

    “The girls in our study took up the notion of discipline as a virtue, reproducing its regulatory practices in other aspects of their existence,”

This makes it clear that some of the values on which schooling is based can have very bad consequences for a minority of women.  I would propose that this culture bad effects on just about everyone who falls into its clutches.  Consider what schooling teaches:
Do what you don’t want to do.
Do what you don’t want to do because the authority says so.
You will be rewarded for the ability to bore yourself.
Don’t move.
Follow silly rules.
Don’t question silly rules.
Learn (ie memorise and regurgitate) stuff of no use or relevance to you.

It is said that schooling prepares people for society.  This is (appallingly) true.  It is the best possible reason to change society – and changing schooling would be an excellent place to begin.

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