Tackling Bullying in Schools

Antonio Buehler, founder of Abrome was invited to the Laura Bush Community Library to speak about how to tackle bullying in schools. This presentation leaned heavily on the bullying series we provided earlier this 'academic' year. Those posts are listed below. This video is shared courtesy of the library.

Abrome extends academic calendar to 210 days; attendance still optional

Abrome is uninterested in replicating the practices and structures of schooling. For example, when we launched Abrome this past August, we committed to never subjecting young people to classroom instruction, homework, or testing, because those are oppressive practices that undermine learning. One practice that we felt we could not yet move away from was the 180-day academic year.[1] This coming year, we are introducing a year-round, 210-day academic calendar. 

This year, Abrome operated on an 11-month schedule consisting of 180 days.

The standard American school, public and private, requires students to attend classes for 180 days over a nine-month period. Year-round schools typically stick to the 180-day schedule, but they stretch it out over 11 or 12 months, giving students and teachers more frequent one- or two-week breaks throughout the year in lieu of a three month summer break.[2] A small minority of schools extend the academic year calendar without adding in additional breaks, giving the schools more instructional days.

Within the current schooling system, year-round schooling has palpable benefits in terms of testing and efficiency. Summer learning loss is attributed to long summer vacations, and it requires teachers to spend time each fall reviewing material that the students had supposedly learned the prior year. This eats into instructional time that could be used to move students further into their standardized curriculum. Additionally, there is a maintenance aspect of constantly having students in school and engaged in required academic material, because when there is not intrinsic motivation to master material that is going to be tested, schools are best served by repeatedly drilling students to keep material top of mind.[3]

From the vantage point of traditional schools, because they are typically measured by how their students perform on standardized tests, the aforementioned arguments for year-round schooling are quite compelling.[4][5] However, the benefits of year-round schooling extend to teachers, students, and families, as well. Teachers and students are less likely to experience burn out when there are more frequent breaks throughout the year. And studies show that although only about 50% of parents support year-round schooling before implementation, nearly 80% of parents support it after implementation.[6] Some of the benefits to families include reduced family conflict,  fewer childcare challenges over the summer, and the ability to take family vacations during off-peak travel periods.  

However, the reason Abrome is moving to a year-round, 210-day academic calendar has nothing to do with the benefits that traditional schools would garner from it. We are focused on helping young people lead remarkable lives so they can positively impact society and improve the human condition. In order to lead a remarkable life, one must become a lifelong learner. Meaningful educational experiences cannot be confined to the four walls of a school for 7 hours a day, 180 days and 9 months a year, for 13 years. At Abrome, we want to provide a safe space for Learners to be able to engage in deep, meaningful, and enduring learning experiences throughout the year, including the summer.

Next year, Abrome will operate on a year-round, 210-day schedule.

In order to tear down the notion that learning only happens at school, attendance at Abrome is optional, and we will highly encourage Learners to take at least 30 days off during the academic year to engage in off-site learning experiences. Abrome is a space where Learners can come to engage in self-directed learning, collaborate with other Learners, receive guidance from Learning Coaches, and recharge before their next learning challenge.

This new 210-day, year-round academic calendar also provides significantly more flexibility to Learners and their families. With an additional thirty days per academic year, Abrome Learners and families will not feel conflicted about taking time off for family vacations, summer camps, internships, or community service opportunities. For Learners who have friends in traditional schools, they can take time off when their friends are freed from school. For Abrome parents who have children at multiple schools, they can organize their schedules around the more inflexible academic calendars of traditional schools. And fundamentally in alignment with our educational philosophy, Abrome Learners will be able to take time off as they see fit for any other reasons they may have, without having to provide justification.

1.     We underestimated the extent to which Learners would want to be at Abrome. The most common complaint we hear when Abrome Learners come back from break is that they wish there were less breaks, and that they could not wait to return.

2.     For our first year at Abrome, we stretched 180 academic days over 11 months.


4.     Affluent high schools are also measured by the selectivity of the colleges their students end up matriculating into. Fortunately for the overwhelming majority of affluent high schools that refuse to move away from the traditional model of schooling, college admissions is highly correlated with family income.

5.     For the sake of brevity, we did not list other benefits of a year-round schedule for schools such as higher utilization rates of facilities and the ability to accommodate more students by offsetting the start dates of different groups of students.

6.     Palmer; Bemis (1999). "Alternative Calendars: Extended Learning and Year-Round Programs,". University of Minnesota, Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement.

The problem with apprenticeships, internships, and mentors

What could possibly be wrong with a school that offers students their pick of apprenticeships, internships, and mentors?

One of the fundamental problems of schooling is that it takes away agency from the student. Young people come into the world eager to learn, but when they are placed in schooling environments, that love of learning is put down. Students are expected to speak only when spoken to. Questions may be asked, but only at the appropriate time. “You want to talk about dinosaurs? Too bad, we’re talking about the color wheel.” “You want to play with the microscope? Too bad, this is core skills time; get back to your Khan Academy math.” Students become convinced that knowledge comes from above, and that adults know best what students should be learning.

Students become reliant on their teachers and the rules of the institution to inform their actions and guide their intellectual development. Many of them even come to believe that they would not learn how to count or read if not for the institution of schooling. Of course, they also would learn to count and read if they were sent to a nursing home for 7 hours a day, 180 days a year, for 13 years of their youth and adolescence—and then society would ask, without nursing homes, how would the children learn?

Because it is such a simple way of looking at the world, and because it is reaffirmed endlessly through cultural norms and rituals, society fully buys into the belief of schooling as the means of learning. Instead of asking how to help their children lead remarkable lives, parents ponder where they can move to so they can get their children into schools that will provide them with the best learning opportunities. In the past, this may have been limited to AP classes, extracurricular clubs, and athletic facilities. But more recently there has been an uptick in schools offering their students apprenticeships, internships, and mentors.

For the parent who is trying to game the system so that they take on minimal social risk while positioning their child to get into a top college, these school offerings sound like safe ways to differentiate their child’s schooling experience. Unfortunately, like everything else in the schooling world, this becomes part of the college admissions arms race, where parents and schools try to provide students with experiences and essay fodder that allow them to stand above the competition. Seeking to capitalize on parental anxiety, schools now tout their special partnerships with organizations that their students can intern at, or list the professionals their students can call on as mentors. “Come to our school,” they say, “and we will get you an internship with a venture backed startup!” “Come to our school, and we will give you a world class mentor!” A parent who is trying to game the system tends to appreciate a school that tees up opportunities for their children to opt into.

However, by offering structured apprenticeships, internships, and mentors, schools undermine the learning process while also limiting the potential for students to leverage those experiences into remarkable lives led.

Numerous studies have highlighted how choice and agency impacts learning. In one study, researchers provided one group of young people with a toy to play with as they saw fit. In the other group, they instructed the young people on how the toy worked, and how to manipulate it. The young people who were free to play with the toy were more engaged and had more fun than the group that received instruction. The free play group developed a deeper understanding of how the toy worked, to include the tasks that the other group received direct instruction on. In another study, students who received clear-cut instructions on how to solve chemistry problems underperformed relative to students who were not given such instructions. And in another study, students in underperforming schools had tremendous competency gains after the schools provided them with the opportunity to decide what topics to engage in. Whereas choice can sometimes be paralyzing (see The Paradox of Choice), it seems in education that the more choices students get to make, the more they thrive.

So, what is wrong with schools giving students options of apprenticeships, internships, and mentors to choose from? Is not an à la carte approach better than not offering options at all? The answer is no. More options are better than less options. But the best option is not to limit young people to any number of options at all.     

When young people are given the freedom to pursue their interests in a safe environment, they have an unlimited number of potential learning experiences. Unlike students at traditional schools, Learners in an emancipated learning environment are not required to take core curriculum classes with the opportunity to take some additional elective courses. Their “extracurricular” activities are not limited to nine sports or twelve clubs. And they are not stuck choosing from a list of ten companies to intern at or twenty coaches to receive mentorship from.

At Abrome, we fully endorse the notion of apprenticeships, internships, and mentors as accelerants to creating deeper and more meaningful learning experiences. We believe that they are worth pursuing when the time is right. But we refuse to dictate when that time is, or to package them in a turnkey manner for our Learners. Instead, we encourage Learners to create their own opportunities based on their unique needs, interests, and goals, and cognizant of the resources they have at hand. It would be naive for us to believe that we could identify appropriate organizations and mentors for each of our Learners better than they could themselves. And it would be foolish for us to believe that Learners would benefit more from us providing them with these opportunities than they would from creating them for themselves.

By removing the limitations of choosing from a menu of internships and mentors, Learners are able to transcend from participating in something someone else has imagined to pursuing something that is personally meaningful. They go from absorbing content in a structured way to deeper learning through the development of connections with people who share their interests. They transition from engaging in experiences for external validation to embracing experiences for personal joy.

The benefits of leaving the responsibility of finding apprenticeships, internships, and mentors to the Learner extend far beyond gaining more meaningful apprenticeships, internships, and mentors. When Learners develop a list of organizations or mentors that they will then pitch themselves to, it helps create in them a mindset where they feel responsible for their own education and lives. They develop agency through the process of creation. They fear failure less because failure becomes a common occurrence for those who take on the responsibility of leading remarkable lives. When they are no longer given a list of options, a world of possibilities opens up before them. And because this happens at a young age, they are not trained to be helpless in the face of uncertainty.



Five Steps to End School Bullying: Change the Context (Essay 6 of 6)

Bullying is not the only problem with schooling, but it is one that literally brings violence into children’s lives, and in worst case scenarios it ends lives. In this essay series we laid out five actionable steps that schools need to take to end school bullying. First, schools must incorporate age-mixing as a means to reduce hierarchy and competition, and increase empathy.[1] Age-mixing in three or four year batches is helpful but not sufficient. For maximum benefit, schools should consider age-mixing from Kindergarten through 12th grade, and perhaps even more broadly than that. Second, schools must eliminate competition, starting with grades.[2] Grades do not aid in the learning process, but they can shut it down, and they almost always create an unhealthy rank ordering of students. This ordering ultimately leads to various forms of bullying. Third, schools must give students full agency over their learning.[3] Allowing students to pick from some electives or to determine the sequence in which they learn something is not sufficient. The adults must be willing to step aside so that students feel as though they are in control of their lives, which lessens the likelihood that they will try to control the lives of others. Fourth, schools must respect their students.[4] This requires that schools commit to the principles of anti-oppression, trust students to take full control over their learning, and avoid manipulating student behavior through punishments and rewards. And fifth, schools must promote empathy in their communities.[5] They can promote empathy by embracing diversity, modeling empathetic behavior, and tearing down hierarchy within the schooling community.

In this series we have pointed out how these five steps promote superior learning and academic achievement, as well. That schools continue to reject the five steps to end bullying, when those steps would also improve the quality of education, raises some serious questions about the motives of the various stakeholders in the traditional schooling industry, both public and private. What could possibly be so important to traditional school administrators, school boards, politicians, accreditation agencies, and content providers that they would refuse to advocate for and take the steps necessary to build intellectually vibrant environments free of bullying? Part of the answer can be found in the realization that the bullying in schools does not come only from other students, it comes from the adults, as well.[6] Such bullying can range from a vice principal berating a student for violating a rule to a teacher embarrassing a student for not knowing the answer to a question, and in some of the more backward schools in America, to corporal punishment or the threat of criminal charges against students. 

So what is a parent to do when their children are trapped in schools where the adults bully the students and where peer bullying is promoted directly or indirectly through the practices and structures of schooling? Politicians, bureaucrats, and school administrators can talk about school reforms that will help reduce bullying over time, but parents do not have the luxury of waiting for years when their children are being subjected to environments of bullying in the here and now. Fortunately, parents can do for their children overnight in one simple step what tens of thousands of schools refuse to do by way of the steps we laid out. Parents can change the context.

If the waiters at your favorite restaurant made fun of the way you ate your food every time you went there for dinner, you would stop going to that restaurant. If you found out your trainer was telling everyone at the local gym what your weight is and how you are too lazy to get it down, you would stop using that trainer. If your neighbor’s dog attacked you every time you went over to their house, you would stop going to their house. We know that if something is hurting us that we should remove it from our lives.[7] We change the context. Yet when our children are being bullied at school, the idea of removing our children from school is unfortunately considered by too many to be an unnecessary overreaction that does more harm than good. Instead, society tells us to teach children how to cope with the bullying, to work with the school staff to find ways to limit the incidence of bullying, and to lobby the school board to address the problem of school bullying.  

Life is far too short and far too precious to leave children to suffer in schools, especially when we know that pulling them out of school will eliminate real harm from their lives. Change the context. Identify a local alternative school that has incorporated the five steps we have laid out. Change the context. If you don’t live near such a school, move. Change the context. If you cannot afford to attend an alternative school, downsize your life so that you can, or homeschool or unschool. Change the context. In doing so you will allow your children to recognize their personal worth, to feel in control their own lives, and to lead healthier and happier lives. As a bonus, your relationship with your children will improve considerably. They will recognize that you are on their side, proactively working to help them enjoy life. Change the context.







(6)   Unfortunately, the media and education schools largely restrict their focus on bullying to that committed by students, not by educators. However, the bullying that comes from adults, the ones young people are told to trust, can be far more pernicious. This has parallels to how the media and education schools often focus on students and their families to explain away academic shortcomings, instead of turning the focus on the adults who run the system. Here is a report from Australia that provides examples of how adults often bully children in schools:

(7)   We are not suggesting that standing up to bullies or trying to influence change in systems is not a worthwhile endeavor. In fact, the course we are suggesting in this essay will force schools to address bullying.

Five Steps to End School Bullying: Culture and Philosophy (Essay 4 of 6)

Nothing carries the day in education quite like culture. A great culture allows all members of a community to feel valued and loved, it promotes and contributes to learning, and serves as a bulwark against bullying. But in order to experience all of these benefits, a learning community and their culture must be built upon the foundation of a great educational philosophy.[1] Unfortunately, the structures and practices of traditional schooling corrupt even the most well-intentioned philosophies of education. 

At the core of a successful philosophy of education is respect for the learner. Most parents, administrators, and teachers demand respect from young people, but they rarely focus on respect in the other direction. When young people are not respected, the learning process is subverted, and the seeds of bullying are planted.

In order for learners to be respected, three conditions must be met.  First, a learning space must be committed to principles of anti-oppression and they must reject hierarchy. Second, learners must have full control of their learning. And third, learners must not be manipulated through punishments or rewards.

The easiest and most immediate action schools can take is to commit to principles of anti-oppression within the learning community. Whether adults want to admit it or not, schools were founded upon the basis of oppression. At the very minimum, traditional schools engage in an ongoing practice of demeaning and marginalizing students based on their age. Even if oppression was not built into the structure of schooling, which it is, it would be a natural outcropping to the assumption schools hold that young people are ignorant and incompetent, and therefore need to have their lives dictated to them by adults. But the oppression in schools extends beyond just ageism. It expands to ableism based on physical disability, and spreads beyond ableism and picks on young people based on their mental health, emotional state, and learning differences.

But going back to the history of schooling, there was a very clear objective by the architects of our modern day schooling system to tear down select communities and cultures (e.g, immigrants, indigenous people) for the purpose of assimilating young people into the dominant social order.[2] And this coercive effort to undermine communities and personal identity is not an archaic form of oppression, it continues to this day, although it is now wrapped in much more altruistic language. While oppression is part and parcel of schooling, it is amplified most aggressively against students of color, immigrants, and students of low socioeconomic status.[3] From a social justice perspective, we should demand that the institution of schooling acknowledges and addresses the ongoing oppression of young people. But even if one were uninterested about the broader social justice concerns of schooling, it should be apparent that oppressed students (even if it is only a small minority of students) are going to internalize the belief that power justifies bullying.

The second ingredient of an educational philosophy that schools must adopt in order to promote respect for the learner is to allow young people to take full control of their learning. We spoke at length in the prior essay in this series about learner agency, and how it is good for education and necessary to combat bullying.[4] Simply giving young people a few options in what, when, where, and how they learn is not the same as allowing them to have agency over their learning. Agency requires stepping back and allowing the learner to make all of the decisions related to their education, while recognizing that caring adults can certainly assist on the journey, when invited. It is also worth pointing out that giving respect to young people also requires allowing them to be full and equal partners in the community. It is not sufficient to simply give them a space to learn without giving them the opportunity to shape that space in accordance with their needs and resources, while balancing that with the needs of the other members of the space.

An educational philosophy that prioritizes learner control directly impacts and improves the self-confidence and self-awareness of students.[5] It allows them to experience at a young age the dignity that is often only afforded to well-educated, professionally successful, financially well-off members of society. Self-confidence and self-respect help undercut the drivers of bullying. Further, when learners are able to take their education in any direction they want, they find themselves avoiding the competition that often pits students against other students. When young people are able to learn for the sake of learning, their standing relative to their peers becomes a non-issue, and that also helps undermine bullying.[6]

The third condition that must be incorporated into an educational philosophy is the elimination of punishments and rewards. While some may consider this an extension of learner agency, it warrants additional attention as busybodies are so often eager to try to nudge students down preferred pathways, or to turn self-directed education into “learning opportunities.”

The most obvious form of punishments and rewards in schools are grades, which we have previously addressed in this series on bullying. But punishments and rewards also include compliments, verbal rebukes, praise, detention, honors status, and even criminal charges.[7][8] The author Alfie Kohn has written extensively about the effect of punishments and rewards on children.[9] In his writings he leans heavily on the work of Edward L. Deci and Richard Ryan (who we talked about in the prior essay) to highlight how punishments and rewards can undermine intrinsic motivation. He also references dozens of studies that reaffirm Deci and Ryan’s claims that manipulative efforts to get students to engage in certain types of learning experiences are counterproductive, and that those efforts ultimately decrease interest and performance in the work that adults are most focused on.

If education was the goal, schools would immediately cease their use of punishments and rewards. Likewise, if reducing bullying was the goal, they would also cease the use of punishments and rewards. As Kohn points out, punishments and rewards can elicit temporary compliance, but that those efforts will ultimately “generate anger, defiance, and a desire for revenge.”[10] Since the revenge will rarely be directed directly at the adults who are manipulating the students, it will most likely be redirected toward other students. Kohn also points out that the focus on punishments and rewards illustrates for young people how one can bypass reason and rely on power to get one’s way. School teachers and administrators may not realize it, but they are providing the blueprint for schoolhouse bullying through their practices.

Bullying can be stopped in an environment with a great culture. A commitment to anti-oppression, a willingness to trust young people enough to give them agency over their learning, and a refusal to try to manipulate them through punishments and rewards are essential to building that culture.

I believe that our experience instructs us that the secret of Education lies in respecting the pupil. It is not for you to choose what he shall know, what he shall do. It is chosen and foreordained, and he only holds the key to his own secret. By tampering and thwarting and too much governing he may be hindered from his end and kept out of his own. Respect the child. Wait and see the new product of Nature. Nature loves analogies, but not repetitions. Respect the child.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson


(1)   A learning environment with a great educational philosophy but a bad culture is a miserable place to be. Countless democratic schools and self-directed learning environments, for example, have failed and shut down because of poor messaging, or conflict and miscommunication among families, guides, and learners. And while a good culture can help mitigate or hide some of the harm to children created by a poor philosophy, it cannot undo the harm.

(2)   To begin your investigation into the history of schooling I recommend the documentary Schooling the World, and the book The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto.  

(3)   A commitment to anti-oppression would also address cultural background, ethnicity, gender, immigration status, nationality, language, race, religion, physical appearance, self-expression, sexual orientation, parental education, and other factors. It would also recognize hierarchy within the learning environment and would work to deconstruct it. The list provided herein is not comprehensive, and organizations committed to anti-oppression would consider ongoing evaluation of their practices as necessary to minimize and prevent marginalization.  


(5)   Abrome’s educational philosophy is one that we would like to see other learning organizations replicate.


(7)   Shockingly, schools are even punishing the victims of bullying. Their reasoning is that the victims are partially to blame for being a party to incidents in which they were bullied!

(8)   The criminalization of schooling has only recently become a hot topic in the media, but it has already spurred a good amount of legislation to reduce the use of criminal charges to induce desired behavior in students. However, schools across the nation, particularly in the south, continue to station police officers on school grounds, and they continue to dole out criminal charges for classroom disruptions, truancy, and fighting.    

(9)   Alfie Kohn’s book Punished by Rewards is a must read for parents and educators.


Five Steps to End School Bullying: Agency (Essay 3 of 6)

While this essay series focuses on the problem of bullying, I would like to take a step back for a moment and address self-motivation, which is critical to academic and life success. Self-motivation is what makes or breaks many people once they come out the other end of the schooling apparatus, whether it be high school, college, or graduate school. There are many people who do well academically in school, only to fall on their faces in the “real world” because they never learned how to take control of their lives and drive toward a self-defined goal.[1] Following a syllabus and neurotically studying to perfectly answer every question that will be on the test might give one a perfect GPA, but it leaves little to no time for young people to author their own lives.   

Self-determination theory (SDT), made famous by Edward L. Deci and Richard Ryan, states that there are three needs that are essential for the psychological health and well-being of an individual: competence, autonomy, and psychological relatedness. When these three needs are not met over a sustained period of time, there are significant and substantial risks that an individual will suffer mentally, physically, socially, and emotionally. And in traditional schools, autonomy is virtually absent. That lack of autonomy undermines self-motivation which does not bode well for the future happiness and success of students. It is also a major driver of bullying in schools, which destroys psychological relatedness and further undermines the well-being of students.  

A decade old research study conducted at W. F. Boardman Elementary School in Oceanside, New York, focused on SDT to identify the causes of bullying in the school.[2] What they found, similar to most traditional schools, is that there were very few instances in which their students could act autonomously in their learning, even though teachers thought they were providing their students with ample choices and opportunities for self-expression. Most remarkably, this study focused on the bullied, and not the bullies, and lack of autonomy, real or perceived, was a common factor for those who were most bullied. A lack of autonomy in education can easily be extrapolated to a lack of autonomy over one’s life, and those who feel they have the least control over their lives seemingly become easily identifiable targets for bullies.

In addition to grooming the bullied, the lack of autonomy in school grooms the bullies as well. First, we know that those who have been bullied are much more likely to become bullies themselves.[3] Hurt people hurt people is a cliché that bears true in bully-infested schooling environments. Second, there is ample research that shows that a lack of autonomy over one’s life promotes dysfunctional behaviors, many of which manifest themselves as bullying. While education researchers have touched upon this dynamic, prison researchers have done a much better job addressing the matter. The only American institutions that provide people with less autonomy than schools are prisons, jails, and parts of the military (e.g., basic training), each of which are also plagued with bullying.

Research by Anthony Bottoms highlights that while dysfunctional behaviors were common in prisons, the more prisoners were prevented autonomy in their daily lives, the more likely they were to engage in dysfunctional behavior, including violence toward other inmates.[4] Further, Bottoms highlighted the success of the Barlinnie Special Unit in Scotland for violent offenders. Breaking with convention, this unit provided greater than usual prisoner autonomy in spite of their more complicated prison population, and significantly brought down dysfunctional and violent behaviors, including bullying.[5]

Student autonomy means handing the reins of education over to the learner. It does not mean there is no role for adults, but it requires that adults abdicate their role as authoritarians who dictate where, when, what, and how students learn. Student autonomy allows learners to make the decisions that are relevant to their education, and gives them the belief that their approach to learning will have a significant impact on the outcomes of their learning.

While lots of schools may give lip service to the idea of autonomy, very few have offered even a small sampling of it to their students. They may allow students to choose a topic to research, who they can work with on a project, or the format of the end product that they will be graded on, but such narrow options do not equate to student autonomy. One place schools can look to within their system for proof that greater autonomy is possible in learning are individualized education plans (IEPs). IEPs have traditionally been reserved for students that have been labeled as learning disabled, but schools should expand them to all students. IEPs are an attempt to personalize learning, and the most effective IEPs allow the student to have greater ownership over their education by given them an opportunity to provide input into how they will learn, what they will learn, and how that learning will be assessed. Unfortunately, the structures and practices of schooling prevent even the most forward thinking traditional schools from taking increased autonomy as a tool to promote learning to its logical conclusion.

Because the schooling system treats children as though they are incompetent and ignorant people who are incapable of taking control of their education, they promote a sense of learned helplessness. This behavior or belief that develops in young people, in addition to handicapping their ability to learn, leaves them vulnerable to being bullied by others, or to developing into a bully as a means of externalizing control on others since they have no control over their own lives.  

Giving students full autonomy in education can help undo the harm to the bullies and the bullied, and it can prevent future bullying. This is a step that all schools should eagerly embrace. However, doing so would require them to let go of the structures and practices they were all trained to employ, and that they are evaluated on.


(1)   Our measure of “doing well” academically differs from that of most educators and parents. Their measure of doing well means getting the highest grades and ranking the highest among one’s peers. Our measure of “doing well” entails deep, meaningful, and enduring learning experiences that allow young people to lead remarkable lives. However, it should be noted that far more young people in the traditional schooling system are not doing well relative to the tiny few who are doing well.  

(2)   “Interrupting the Cycle of Bullying and Victimization in the Elementary Classroom”, Phi Delta Kappan, Volume 86, Number 4, December 2004, pp. 288-291.

(3)   There is a chicken and an egg aspect to bullying. Bullying requires the bullied and the bullies. However, once the cycle starts, there are ample numbers of people who were bullied waiting in the wings to become bullies.

(4)   Bottoms, Anthony E., William Hay, and J. Richard Sparks (1995). “Situational and Social Approaches to the Prevention of Disorder in Long-Term Prisons.” Long-Term Imprisonment: Policy, Science, and Correctional Practice. editor. Timothy J. Flanagan. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.

(5)   Some may take issue with our use of prisons as a way to highlight the point about the lack of autonomy in schools. While we do not intend to minimize the inhumane treatment of inmates in prison, it should be noted that there are many parallels between schools and prisons. Both are hierarchical institutions where the students/inmates have no choice but to follow the directives of the staff. There are punishments for non-conformity (e.g., dress codes) and there are rules that cannot be questioned. Additionally, there are legal consequences for those who flee schools (truancy) and prisons.