I am both amazed and astounded by how many people taking part in this forum who have neither attended nor experienced Arkansas Governor’s School first hand. It is sad to me that so many will believe the worst rather than investigate the truth. I attended in 1992 and the experienced most certainly transformed me into not only an open-minded individual, but into one who can hold her own arguing all sides and angles to most any issue or debate. I see the whole picture and not just one side of it. That said, it does not mean that I agree with what has been stated here. And with what I have read on this blog, few people actually have any idea about the educational environment that they are speaking against. Moreover, it is being misrepresented to parents of children who are potential candidates for Governors Schools across our nation.
Did you know that the current Republican Presidential hopeful, religious leader and former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee had a major and guiding hand in the creation of a PBS documentary, “The Guiding Hand” (in preparation for his election campaign as Lt. Governor and to undermine Democratic hopefuls in the upcoming presidential election) that attacked AGS for it’s structure and it’s teachings? Did you know that he and others hand their hands in splicing interviews to change the very essence of what the youth who experienced AGS said about it? Did you know that the youth became incensed and tried to have the production halted for misrepresentation of their comments? Did you know that once Huckabee entered office a Governor that he saw for himself how the program was designed and never took part or permitted any changes to the program once he gained an inside understanding of the curriculum? Did you know that AGS would not allow him access to their texts or their curriculum because he was taking such a biased stance. Who would allow t access to their materials? At the time, AGS would not and so, it took election as the Arkansas Governor for Huckabee to gain such access. I know this not just as a former AGS graduate, but as an employee of the Board of Education. Huckabee attacked AGS because he did not understand it and once he was allowed access to the truth, he retreated from his stance. AGS encourages students to think for themselves. It teaches “NOTHING.” I repeat, AGS teaches nothing.” Could it also be that AGS is attacked by the Right because it is an implementation of Bill Clinton. Why is it that other Governors Schools in other states, most of which use similar or the same materials, are not attacked with the force that AGS is? Could it simply be the Clinton link?
Let me take you through a class at AGS, please. Governors School only presents an issue from an unbiased pro and a con perspective and opens the gates for debate and discussion. For example (a very simplistic one) AGS Area II presented my class with the topic of abortion. AGS and the instructor, held firmly to an unbiased stance. The instructor served as a facilitator, not a discussion guide. There was a reading assigned the night before from the “Tree Book” and since students receive no grades, they are not required to read anything. Those who do not read, will simply be behind in the discussion. Students, upon entering class, are asked to discuss their opinion, views, and experiences as they relate to the reading. As a class, we divided pretty well divided evenly in terms of our position on the topic. Some “pro-choice” some “pro-life” - might I add, none were “pro-abortion.” There simply is no such thing. The abortion issue is choice and is not nearly as simplistic as Right Winger’s have tried to reduce it down to. This is not a black or white issue, it is the Grey portion that is cause for debate. Seldom is the Grey presented by the Right side.
In class, we started with the simple - good or bad; pro or con. Then one of our students came out as the child product of a rape. She discussed her mother’s distance from her as a person (likely due to being and living every day with a child who was the result of rape). Her words were emotional and tearful. It humbled us all. Another student then presented the case of a recent hometown debate over the right for the family of a mentally retarded women in a group home to have an abortion after being the victim of rape at the hands of one of her “house parents.” Is abortion acceptable in cases such as these?
Yet another student had a cousin who was born with no face and with no arms or legs. Is abortion acceptable in cases such as this? I could go on, but my point is that there was no emphasis placed by the instructor on any specific side of the issue, only the encouragement to expand the minds of students and to see issues in terms of more than just right or wrong and yes or no.
Many students began with the view that “Abortion is wrong - no matter what. When asked why they felt this way, the answer was always, “the Bible says so,” or “that is what my parents believe.” AGS exists to encourage students to think freely and not to think things just because that it what they have been raised to believe or because that is “the way it has always been.”
AGS, like every organization designed to encourage youth to question the status quo and to think freely, has been under attack since it’s inception. Look at Socrates . . . he is a perfect example. Like AGS, he encouraged his students to ask questions. He answered questions with questions and statements with more questions. The experience posted here by Aquinasfan that an instructor asked her after the presentation of the documentary titled, Night and Fog the question, “If there is an all-loving God, why does He allow things like this to happen?” is just that . . . an inquiry. I truly doubt that it was meant as an attack against “God” or “religion,” but rather a questions designed to make students think about things such as the “free will” of those who led the Nazi extermination and the fact that our world can spin out of control without the questionings of persons who feel that something in unjust or improper. I saw the very same film in 1992. It was a staple at AGS. I was part of the same sort of discussions. I could be wrong, but I suspect that Aquinasfan did not understand the intent behind this question. Rather, it was seen as an attack rather than just a question. Sadly, a student walking about AGS with the philosophy that it exists to confront or that the instructors mean to offend is sadly, going to take everything to heart and leave with little more than a large chip on their shoulder.
All I see here on this blog is constant criticism and commentary from people who are not familiar with the AGS program in the least. Granted, I do not mean to take away from those who have had experiences at AGS or from parents who have lost children and who speak out here. It is those who know nothing short of what they have been told here at this site by others who are outsiders to the AGS experience are my focus.
When parents send their children to a summer program and expect them to learn in a traditional setting without discovering or investigating the setting their children are entering, they are totally unprepared for their children to return home believing differently from what they have been taught. Even worse to these parents, their children came home as newly developed “free thinkers” and thusly, they questioned their parents beliefs and the source of those beliefs. In the case of the film, Night and Fog, I ask you, would we now criticize the child of a Nazi from helping to hide a Jew to save their life? Who would be in the right, the Nazi parent who believed and participated in the extermination of Jews or the Jewish sympathetic child wishing to save the lives of those who were being exterminated. It is this that AGS seeks to encourage and not to teach.
posted on 11/04/2007 1:38:00 PM PST
(A view from INSIDE Arkansas Governor's School)
Hillary is that you defending the AGS?
Why dig up a thread from 5 years ago to post on?
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