“Speaking/singing are integral to developing a strong sense of self. If infringed upon, this will lead to a general thwarting of the human spirit.“
by Kathi Tarrant
In Vermont, the mask debate continues unabated. Since August 1, 2020, Gov. Scott has advised everyone to wear a face covering in public settings. As to whether this practice led to the lessening of ‘cases’ is not only debatable, it is highly erroneous. In addition, the inconsistency of how, when, why and where to ‘mask’ has contributed to a routine gesture gone berserk. Despite the fact that Gov Scott lifted the remaining Covid-19 restrictions on June 14th, many in Vermont are still choosing to wear the mask.
Mask-wearing is of particular concern for children as they have very little to no chance of contracting or spreading the ‘virus’. With their developing speech along with the curtailing of their highest form of speech in singing…Governor Scott continues to purport that since children under twelve years of age are unvaccinated (for now), they should remain ‘masked’. In the meantime, schools are fast-becoming breeding grounds for increased conformity, and places where children are experiencing a lack of engagement. The mask has become another tool in undermining the child’s confidence in their ability to communicate; where obtaining a reward status is a matter of figuring out what ‘Simon Says’.
According to Andrew T. Napolitano, a columnist and former New Jersey Superior Court judge, torture is “any cruel or degrading or intentionally painful or disorienting behavior visited upon a person to induce compliance and/or to gratify the torturer. It is the ultimate triumph of the state over a person and the ultimate degradation of personhood.” To deprive a child of his or her potential through the exploration of speech and/or singing is—I believe–not only an unjustified interference, but an abomination and a complete rejection of the values of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
Governor Scott/the state of Vermont is engaging in torture via the emergency order. He, the torturer experiences the fruits of his barbaric behavior legitimized in depriving children of their God-given rights. It is high time the ‘little ones’ be allowed to gather peacefully, to gather with whomever they choose, and to learn how to speak/sing freely, especially in school, because this is where they spend at least (6) of their waking hours.
Palmer J. Palmer, a master teacher who offers strategies for authentic teaching and learning states, “Consensus is the practical process by which we practice obedience and truth. Consensus is NOT a democracy of opinion in which a majority vote equals truth. Instead, it is a process of inquiry in which the truth that emerges through listening and responding to each other and the subject at hand is more likely to transcend collective opinion than fall prey to it.” Children are deserving of improved dialogue. It is we–as adults–who must recognize the risk we feel is not really the risk of error, but the challenge of transforming a false narrative.
Again, children are not carrying or transmitting the ‘virus’. Not only is the wearing of a mask inhibiting the urge to develop an integrated sense of self—both physical and mental—that is necessary for their natural development, ‘masking’ contributes to the inhibition of free speech as stated in the 1st amendment. A failure to recognize the absence of adequate support…not only will intrinsic motivation be undermined, but so too will the development of a more integrated or coherent sense of self. Speaking/singing are integral to developing a strong sense of self. If infringed upon, this will lead to a general thwarting of the human spirit.
As American radio and television personality, Art Linkletter used to say, “Kids say the darndest things.” They sure do…if given the chance.
Kathi Tarrant is a professional musician and educator who lives in Waterbury. Thumbnail photo credit Jeffco Public Schools, Golden CO.