The Student Resistance Handbook

By Cevin Soling

Image of the book cover beside a photo of a bookshelf and opened book on a table.

The liberty of children is undermined by mandatory education. Full stop. This is a murky premise, a pithy assault founded on a tyrannical characterization of educators. This incendiary fiction is promoted by a Christopher Hitchens quotation stating, ”The essence of tyranny is not iron law. It is capricious law.’” This wise and concise thesis is perverted by The Student Resistance Handbook, a narrative of oppressive educators, and students shackled to desks. Within the current context of Ontario Education, and the absence of any meaningful collective bargaining for nearly a decade, this is base and offensive comedy. Management rights have continually undermined and eroded the professional lives of our members. No entity has greater awareness of this tyranny than those on the front lines of education. The absurdity of this glorified pamphlet is that the real targets are identified as the perpetrators.

Its recurring motif involves self-entitled, sophomoric disruption: “Most importantly: do not do anything illegal… there are plenty of legal means to disrupt the system.” There are fundamental flaws in this call for lawful resistance, including the ironic suggestion that liberty must be preserved through efforts entirely confined to the oppressive system. The philosophies in which civil disobedience are rooted are meant to inform not simply contradict through omission.

The Student Resistance Handbook is not even serviceable; it is merely self-serving, sensational, and a disservice to the intelligence of our students. The reader is left with the question: Does our Brave New World require such an infantile treatise? The answer is an unequivocal no. It serves only to incite selfishness within public education, a system whose very principles are founded on collective benefit. It serves only to expound on an ideology subscribed to by a loud minority of fledgling bigots. Let it be received with an enthusiasm as absent as the facts which could be used to support the notion that this book has any relevance.

About Ryan Kelly
Ryan Kelly is a teacher in District 13, Durham and a long-time labour activist.

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