Institutions

No matter how old I grow, the first day of school will always confuse me.  I traverse the day not with the familiar “Where is my next class?” or “Where am I?” questions, but rather I am perplexed by my teacher’s treatment of the unwritten rules of every classroom.  The rules they lay out are simple enough, but the mystery, at least for me, lies in each teacher’s absolute adherence to their own laws, to the point where an ignorance of opposing ideologies arises.

The first teacher I had in high school set her rules immediately and abided by them strictly.

–       Late to class penalty: pushups. This kept the class attentive, and sentenced wrong-doers with the ultimate punishment: humility. The laughing and jeering of peers prevented repeat offenders.

–       Late work was turned in by the end of the quarter. It was better to have the work done at all than never. Besides, the purpose of school is to learn, not to be graded well.

–       To use the restroom, you stood up and left the room. No questions, no problems.

In my Sophomore year, I was amazed when a number of my teachers had shockingly different rules.

–       Late to class penalty: detention. It did not matter if you were ten minutes or ten seconds late, late pass was required. I can’t even remember how many times I have seen students who walked in as the bell rang receive both a lecture, and a late pass.

–       If you had late work, the only reasonable solution was a zero. Tardiness is failure. Besides, in college, teachers won’t accept anything late, right? At least that’s what we were told.

–      To use the restroom was unthinkable.  This one is my favorite.  In order to teach us to be responsible and take care of our needs when appropriate, we were told to go between classes. Therefore, in order to teach us to be responsible for ourselves, the authority set even more specific times for us to use as restroom breaks.

These rules did not pose a malicious threat to me- I tend to follow rules, and do what is expected of me.  But it is difficult to compare these and not find them comical.  Both teachers were aware that the other systems were in place in classrooms next door, yet both teachers found the other’s system laughable and utterly ridiculous. In fact, my first teacher would publicly humiliate students who asked to leave for the restroom.  The authority has become so set in their ideologies that they don’t understand why the rules would be any other way, while the subjects are forced to live in a rapidly changing world of commandments.

Something to think about.

-Inkwell

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