Friday, November 11, 2011

Why would a "military school" even exist?

We all tend to accept what is familiar as being "normal" without taking time to question it from an outside perspective.

This is the case with fashion; what is fashionable at one time may be considered bizarre a few short years later. Or certain foods may be considered normal in one country and bizarre or disgusting in another.

As alumni who spent years in military school, we are not shocked or surprised that military schools existed. For us, this was our everyday experience. But think about it for a moment, isn't it strange to have a school in which boys dress up as soldiers, not just on Halloween, but every waking hour of the day, not just during recess but also in the classroom and at Mass? And that they have military ranks such as Sargeant and Captain and spend countless hours parading around while carrying fake rifles; except for the "officers" who carry real sabres (albeit with dull edges) and (empty) handgun holsters while out hiking?

Can you imagine if they had schools where kids dressed up and pretended to be something else? What if there was a Linton Hall Native American School in which kids wore feather headdresses and face and body paint all the time, even in the classroom and at Mass? Or a Linton Hall Hippie School at which they forced boys to grow their hair long, wear tie-dye shirts and march around the blacktop carrying signs that said "End the Vietnam War" and "Legalize Marijuana?"

Wouldn't you think of the school administrators who came up with such a concept, and the parents who bought into it, as being just a little weird?

I would argue that this wouldn't be any stranger, any more insane than "military school."

The Linton Hall school brochures that I have seen talk about "turning boys into men." We're talking about boys in Kindergarten through eighth grade. That's ages six through thirteen, though there were 14 and 15 year old eighth graders while I was there. And although at the time I attended the youngest boys were in second grade, I have read of there being at least one kindergarden boy at Linton Hall Military School during its history.

What the heck is wrong in letting boys be boys?

A military regimen is stifling enough for older kids, but how can you justify having little kids in second and third grade who still believe in Santa Claus and still get confused about which side is right and which side is left being forced to march and turn "right face" or "left face?"

A fellow alumnus in his blog says that "Seventh grade was not a good year to be new at school. Everyone else in the class were in positions as sergeants and the new seventh graders started out as privates. " As someone who entered Linton Hall as an older boy, I agree with this. But at least I had attended other schools, and had the experience of knowing what good, non-military schools were like. I also knew that at worst I would get to leave upon graduation, which was a tolerable amount of time away.

I think that for anyone who entered as a younger child it was far worse, because he never saw that there was an alternative, never had a chance to live in a school environment where every minute of his life was not micromanaged by obsessive-compulsive "officers" and staff who paid major importance to meaningless, inconsequential details of everything to how the uniform was worn to how the bed was made.

Is that the kind of "men" we were expected to become? Blindly obedient idiots who need to be constantly reminded about what to do and when to do it? Automatons with no initiative, no individuality and no creativity? Unmotivated bodies needing the threat of severe punishment to be coerced into doing everyday tasks such as brushing their teeth?

Sadly, I believe the answer is yes.

Nowadays violent punishment has fallen out of fashion, and the same results of passive conformity are achieved by drugging (not "medicating") children into stupor. The statistics on the percentage of children being given psychotropic drugs is truly frightening.

I consider myself lucky to have been at Linton Hall Military School only a couple of years, and at an age when, even though I could not fight the situation, I was able to see it for what it was.

And I am happy that Linton Hall has stopped being military, is no longer a boarding school, and is co-ed. It seems to be a far better place than it once was, and I hope the students attending it today have a much more positive experience than I did.

Copyright 2011 by Linton Hall Cadet.
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This blog is not affiliated with Linton Hall Military School and all opinions are those of the author. Comments are always welcome; please do not use your name or names of others.

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