koralleen (koralleen) wrote,

Never too late to check your privilege

When V had outdoor ed a few months ago I was appalled by the regimented mealtime behavior required of the group. They had to line up outside the building in utter silence, walk into the room and stand behind their chairs until permission was given to sit and, finally, to speak. It was eerie and unsettling. I didn't eat much there! (That wasn't the only reason—V was treating me like poo on her shoe the whole time. I hated outdoor ed.) The part about calling table numbers to go collect food I understood, to keep lines reasonable.

C & C were over Friday night for dinner and the topic came up. They both listened to my description of mealtimes at the camp and thought it sounded perfectly acceptable. Necessary, even. They're a former HS science teacher and middle school math teacher, both in urban schools. "You have to manage behavior, set the rules from the start," C told me. They assured me that the most successful schools had the most severe rules. I was stunned and have been thinking about it since then.

Would I have put up with this if I had been in such a situation daily during school? I certainly wouldn't now. I would leave, because I can. I still have a little trouble with the hand-raising thing; I've found myself jumping into discussions in class because they, yeah, seemed like discussions and then later realized I was supposed to be recognized by the instructor before speaking. But the rules I found so rankling remind me of the measures described by a guest speaker from a class last semester. She is a librarian for a jail and she had a sobering list of rules for daily conduct, most of which were designed for her personal safety.

Are kids so naturally awful that we have to clamp down hard and squeeze them into proper humans? Clearly not, since a lot of us emerged into what passes for reasonable adulthood sans the clamp-and-squeeze. I'm lucky and my kids have been lucky (save three days at outdoor ed) and I think the reason is because we landed on the lucky side of the socioeconomic divide. What can I do to move that line over until all the classrooms are on my side? Is that possible? Is it necessary? Maybe I'm wrong in thinking that my way is better. I don't even have a well-formed opinion on the matter, just a vague sense that we should be going about this differently.

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