Thursday, November 15, 2007

wild child

Here's an essay by a college professor who wants more wild children -- students who are willing to break rules, try new things, and set aside social conventions in pursuit of their dreams.

I'm half-inclined to agree. Kids needs guidance and structure of rules, but kids who are willing to set aside rules and not be run by them are the risk-takers who will move and shake the world in days to come.

Evangeline has been butting her head up against a rule at school that is essentially unjust, and I've been trying to help her work her way through an appropriate response to it.

At lunchtime, students at the start of the year were allowed to sit with their friends from other classes if they wanted. About two weeks in, that privilege was unilaterally revoked because of the noise, and everyone was required to sit with their classmates.

Two things annoy the bejesus out of me about this. First is that the restriction has been imposed on everyone without regard for individual behavior. You don't hit an ant hill with a grenade, and you don't punish everyone because of some children's behavior. Second is that it's a punishment that fails to address the underlying problem; kids who are being rowdy and rambunctious will continue to be so even if they have to sit with other kids. And, sure enough, here we are in November and whenever I've been to the school and had lunch with Evangeline, the noise level has been ridiculous, and the kids still are being reprimanded for the volume.

Personally it's a pain in the tuchis, because Evangeline's friends are all in other classes from her this year, she doesn't get to see them the entire day except for recess, and she's miserable as a result. When they drew lots to see who would be friends at the start of the year, the quiet girl (shockingly) was the one who got the short straw -- again.

So what's Evangeline to do? Accept an unjust rule, or work to change it? And when the teachers continue to disregard her request because they're thinking about control instead of what a child needs, what does she do then? My fifth grade lunch was hell because I was stuck next to a bully by virtue of assigned seats and was not allowed to change seats for an entire semester, no matter how I asked.

Honestly, if Evangeline broke this rule and started sitting with her friends, and remained polite and respectful to the teaching assistants the entire time, and refused to move to an assigned table, I'd be thrilled. Some rules are just stupid and they need to be broken so everyone can see how wrong they were in the first place. That's a better lesson than blind obedience to authority.

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