I'm reminded of a story Maurice Sendak told me about a time, years ago, when he and Else Minarik (the author of the Little Bear books) were doing a school visit together. Minarik was reading Sendak's Pierre aloud to an auditorium of kids, and, as kids will, they were all soon lustily shouting along with each "I don't care!" As Maurice told it, she came offstage afterwards and said "Jesus Christ, it sounded like the Bund."
We don't do school, but I've noticed in places as watered-down as Vacation Bible School that when kids are together, mob mentality rules. Whats worse, the adults encourage it. Our openings at VBS were a pep rally to get kids 'psyched' for the day (like they really needed that considering we were going to feed them a sugary snack within the hour). First, the kids were encouraged to get noisy. Later, they'd be admonished for being noisy and told to quiet down -- and the groups would be compared to each other. "I really like the way the first graders are being so quiet." And we complain years later when the kids are so dependent on peer pressure?
I felt far too many of teachers were spending more time focusing on making the children obey rules rather than TEACHING them the things the children need--and deserve--to know.
I only excerpted a small part of the comment, go read the rest.
By the way, the blog is written by the editor of the Horn Book magazine, which is a great magazine if you're interested in children's literature. There are some interesting articles on the website.