This post actually has next to nothing to do with technology for a change. My husband and I got into a bit of a debate last Friday about rules. We were talking about things like cell phone bans and no-hat policies, and I said that if the rules were perceived by students as baseless and unjust, then it was unrealistic to expect them to follow. That they would rebel–not because they really really want to wear their hats in school, but to rebel against the rule itself. My husband (also a teacher) agreed that some rules may be “stupid” (my word) but that it was a slippery slope if we said that students had to follow some rules but not others. I see his point, I really do, but at the same time, I was not about start demanding that a student hand over his cell phone because he flipped it out in class to see if he had any messages–even though my school’s policy might have told me I must. It’s just not a hill I’m willing to die on. I have bigger battles to fight.
I’m not saying that students should be allowed to disregard any rule they think is stupid. But let’s face it. There are some stupid rules out there, and to expect students to follow those rules just because we say they are rules offends every fibre of a teenager’s being.
The next logical thing for me is to ask schools to review “stupid” policies. But what do I do in the meantime? If the policy says I must take a cellphone if a student has it out in class after being warned once, but I don’t want to because it’s not disrupting my class, do I have to? Because you know that student might end up telling Mrs. Stickler that Ms. Barker didn’t take her cell phone when she had it in class. I resent other teachers dictating what rules my students need to follow in my class, provided that the students are learning and behaviour is courteous and respectful of me and the other students in the class.
Must I insist that students follow stupid rules?
(I should mention that the rationale behind the no-hat policy is student safety. Hats obscure student faces from security cameras. Although I have to say, in my experience viewing security camera footage, I could never really identify a face. The hats might actually help us identify students!)
Photo credit: Zac Zellers