2. To overpower by strength.
3. To impel; to press; to drive; to draw or push by main strength; a sense of very extensive use.
4. To enforce; to urge; to press.
Compel, To drive or urge with force, or irresistibly; to constrain; to oblige; to necessitate, either by physical or moral force.
2. To force; to take by force, or violence; to seize.
3. To drive together; to gather; to unite in a crowd or company.
4. To seize; to overpower; to hold.
5. To call forth.
Compulsion, The act of driving or urging by force, physical or moral; force applied; constraint of the will; the application of a force that is irresistible.
2. The state of being complelled or urged by violence.
Upon first examination of these definitions we may feel that to be forced or compelled is something to be avoided. However, I ask you to consider what, or who, it is that is compelling our education. Is it someone else or their ideas that are being forced upon us, or is it our own desire to learn about a subject of our choosing that compels us? Are we driven by our own hunger for knowledge or by a system that was designed to make education uniform? The positive or negative state of these words is of our own making. Being compelled by another, to do something we hold no desire to do, makes these words appear to be negative in meaning. If we are driven by our own interests in pursuit of knowledge, under our own power to freely choose where our road will lead, these words take on a much more positive state.
When we are negatively compelled, we find that we feel negative emotions toward whatever it is that is compelling us. When we are positively compelled just the opposite is true. How, then, are we to have a positive educational experience? The answer is simple: by allowing our own educational desires to compel us to action, not the desires of others.
John Taylor Gatto worked as a school teacher for nearly 30 years in New York. After he won New York State Teacher of the Year he received almost 1,800 letters in response to some essays he wrote about what he had witnessed as a schoolteacher. Here are a couple of excerpts:
Madison, Wisconsin "I'm desperate what to do. Three bright and lively children but everyday I see a closing down of enthusiasm as they grind their way through a predetermined school program."
Force, compel, and compulsion do not have to be words whose actions we try to avoid. If we allow our own educational desires to drive us, these words can be the greatest force in who we become.