Pathfinder people are supposed to have different ways of thinking about things. In physics you sometimes have to think in a straight line. You sometimes have to leap across, and people are good sometimes at one and not the other. But it’s good for them to see that sometimes you can solve a problem by breaking it into parts and doing the parts; sometimes you cannot. But in physics a lot of times that’s the way you do it. A lot of them need to see that.
—Ms. Watts, a teacher at the Pathfinder High School
In this one statement, Ms. Watts, the physics and physical science teacher at the gifted-and-talented magnet school captured both the deeply philosophical and the practical daily bases for the difference between an education at her school and the cycle of lowering expectations typical of the schools described in Contradictions of Control. In those schools, with the predominance of administrative control over teaching and learning, de-skilled teachers were rewarded for routinized teaching and a uniformity of curriculum, which caused them to use the control of knowledge to control their students. The students, bored by the content and silenced by the teacher-dispensed curriculum, reduced their efforts and settled for a course credit, regardless of their interest or disinterest in the lessons. Their lethargy convinced the teachers that the students were incapable of learning unless the course content was simpli-