The Norm Letter #3
May 2012


Fear cannot be without hope,
Nor hope without fear.

- Baruch Spinoza

Laura writes: I got your information through Jordan Riak's PTAVE newsletter. I am a family therapist and often offer workshops on relationship based parenting (no punishments and no rewards) and democratic, student led schooling. I would very much appreciate receiving your newsletter.

NL: Glad you’re among us, Laura. This sad world needs more therapists and many more self-educated youth.

Kirby Mihalakis says: Hi, where is the rest of "A Stranger and Afraid" It was a very interesting read. I used to be involved with CASA (court appointed special advocates) I wasn't a CASA but I always "Adopted" Several children at christmas. But about a year ago (a little more) I became the Exec Dir of SUFK Houston. Its been a great year and so great to be able to help these kids. We do street outreach one evening per week and we have a drop in center one evening per week where we all sit down and have dinner. We bring lots of clothing and supplies with us so that the kids can get some new stuff. We have computers there and some kids are studying for their GEDs and some are applying for jobs. Our volunteers help with all of this.

Looking forward to reading more of your reports. Thanks

[later] We operate in almost 30 cities nationwide.

Kirby Mihalakis
Executive Director
StandUp For Kids Houston

NL: "A Stranger and Afraid" was written for my sons and sent to family members to share family history. It was never intended for public consumption, tho I posted a bit of it on my website so visitors would get a sense that there is a human being here.

I'm delighted and excited about your work in Houston.

Boyer August, Ed. D. sends his brochure:

A California, Non-Profit, Corporation Serving The Community Since 1978

Did You Know That It Is Illegal When:

  • You Are Embarrassed By A Teacher In Front Of The Class?
  • You Serve Detention During Lunch Or On Saturday?
  • You Are Given Laps Or Pushups As A Punishment?
  • You Are Not Allowed To Go To The Bathroom?
  • You Are Locked Out Of Class?
  • You Pay For Parking Spaces?

Please send your Norm Report and Norm Letter 2.

Thanks for your very important work!

With Blessings, Boyer

Boyer P. August, Ed. D.
Teacher, Administrator,
Therapist, Educational Consultant

[LATER] Norm, You have had a very trying, interesting and resurrected life. I am so sorry for all the pain, but your response has been an extraordinary journey! I love the blues piano, singing and dancing.

I have known Jordan [Riak] and his work, for about 30 years. He lives in Alamo CA and I use to live in Danville, a neighboring city which is in the same school district which fired me in 1970 because I was advocating for the rights of children while at school. That encounter closed all the administrative doors to my hopes to be a high school principal. I sued and was in court for 15 years eventually being vindicated by the California State Supreme and the United States Supreme Courts, but never being allowed to continue my position as a high sch school Dean of Boy/Assistant Principal .

My work as a teacher and a therapist the last 47 years has been to continue as a proponent for the educational rights of children. I continue to consul students, parents, educators and the public in this area and have published a handbook on student rights since 1975. Send me your address and I will mail you a copy. With Hope Always, Boyer

NL: Your book "Handbook on Student Rights and Responsibilities" is so powerful and exciting that I neglected garden tending, dishes in the sink, even skipped a "Mentalist" program so absorbed I was. Recognizing the legal decisions that affected my students as I labored in the teaching "dodge" took me back to memory lane. The book surely was a gawdawful bunch of work for you, and I so much appreciate it.

I moved to California three years ago, and I’m grateful and impressed that California is leagues ahead - in matters of freedom & students’ rights – than, say, Arizona, where I lived among the brain-dead for twelve years. The revered school superintendent, his doctorate from BYU, kept a paddle under his desk to swat middle schoolers. When I kept challenging him at board meetings, he leaped from his chair to attack/silence me. You’d have loved it.

Your book reads like a novel. Thank you again.

Sherryl asks:

WHERE would we humans have gone
Without violence
Our stories would be as the gentle fairy tale
With love and laughter
Sharing and caring
With patience - sherryl-annette

NL: Refraining from abusing children does not take patience, Sherryl. It takes the understanding that kids are NOT born in "sin", (the worst lie of the churchianity), but born full of GOODNESS & WISDOM. When impatience raises its ugly head, it’s time for YOU to take a time out. Then remember that it’s YOU who needs changing, not the kids. Punishment is inflicted for normal behavior. Do some homework and learn what normal child behavior is – or it will soon change to abnormal. (The irony: Parents CAUSE misbehavior, then punish for it.)

Jeff writes: I read all the chapters of your book, thoroughly enjoying the excitement of the possibility of what it would be like. My question is - how do you do it? Is there an outline somewhere of how to set up and run the family meetings? Best, ---

NL: It takes time and effort, but openness of mind above all. I wrote a whole book to respond to questions such as yours. If you understood what I was saying you would not be asking how I did it.

Re-read it, this time dropping your assumptions and prejudices about what you think you know about childrearing. Go to Chapter Five, on discipline. Let go of the notion that the child has to be "disciplined". The PARENT is the one who lacks discipline - and I don't mean patience. The essential task is to develop insight into the nature of a child - any child. You don't give me a clue, but I'm supposing you are talking about small children. In the book I describe how to conduct family meetings. Go back and read about it. Did you notice that at the end of each chapter there is an anecdote illustrating HOW to treat children without punishing them?

No, this is not your best.

Suggestion: go to a used bookstore and find a copy of A. S. Neill's "Summerhill". Pay whatever the store asks, and give them a generous tip.

Then read it, and read it again, until you can see what we're talking about.

Hint: We're talking not about changing kids, we're talking about changing ourselves. The kids are fine, it's we "grown-ups" that are f**ked up.

Sara says: Thank you so much! I have downloaded the Parenting without Punishing book and I thank you so much for it. My daughter is six. We have never used corporal punishment in our home, but I want to work more on patience and how we speak to one another, particularly my husband and me to her.

She did attend an early childhood program briefly during ages three and four; she was premature and her developmental team/therapists suggested it and against my better judgement I let her in. Now that is one of my biggest regrets as a parent and she no longer attends a program where she gets "time outs" daily for normal child behavior. She attended for three hours per day, four days a week, and it still produced such a shocking noticeable change in her that I learned to follow my own instincts rather than such expert advice again... I look forward to reading through your book and all of the past newsletters; I have also bookmarked Holt's Growing Without Schooling and have been reading through them, as well as his books and those of Alfie Kohn. Thank you so much, again, I really appreciate your help and the work you do!

NL: See above. I have seen countless beautiful, sweet children twisted out of shape – physically & emotionally – by clueless, immature parents, which explains why I’ve worked pro bono for over forty years to change it.

Paul Goodman called it "Compulsory Mis-Education" in his book by that name. Sending your child to public school is handing him/her over to be conditioned by the government. See the last two chapters of PWP. - Norm

Return to Norm Letter Archive
Return to Home Page