A guy walks into a bar, sees a woman, offers to buy her a drink, and she says no. Is it her fault for not liking him, or his for not being attractive to her? Does he have the right to be angry with her if he gets a yes 60-70% of the time? Does he have the right to beat her up for not saying yes?
Other than walking away, if he gets angry, blames her, or assaults her, would you agree that he should be punished? Is it fair to say that in our society we would not tolerate those actions?
Would it surprise you to learn that we DO tolerate this behavior when directed at our children?
Johnson asked his teachers why they don't use iPads, four of the seven reasons were about NOT trusting the students to stay on task; the author concluded (my highlights):
- Teachers learn quickly to not trust students
- Most of the rules, policies and procedures we teachers have set up in the classroom are because of perhaps only one student that made the rule necessary, but in the process of establishing that rule, we typically ignore all of the other well-behaved students
- One student ruins it for all students. While giving them an expensive device is a certain amount of trust, it is going too far to expect that they will use the device appropriated of their own free will
- Some teachers feel uncomfortable when they do not have complete control. To them, teacher control must be enforced and if they can't enforce it, then they will eliminate the distraction
He goes on to say, "I thought it was outrageous that teachers would not use the iPads in class because it is too hard for them to adapt or learn." That was the only thing he found outrageous. He is not outraged that his teachers inherently mistrust students; that he/they can blame one student for creating rules that harm all students; and that teachers must always be in complete control. Imagine being a student in this school.
Schools and school systems are designed by adults, prioritizing their convenience vs the kids'. From school hours (crack of dawn), to testing, to the assumption that every child of a given age is the same, knows the same things, learns at the same pace, and should be measured based on the same, arbitrary standard, everything about the system caters to adults.
There is no accounting for individuality, nor is there much tolerance for "deviation." Despite their "home field" advantage, adults (especially administrators/legislators) regard most failures in their system the fault of those untrustworthy, uncooperative children.
In 2013, California for example suspended 5.7% (366,629), and expelled 1% (9,553) of its ~6 million public school students. Most states and school boards are trying to figure out how to "manage" their own suspension and expulsions, as they try to "control" student behavior.
They use the threat of removal from school as an incentive for kids to stay in school. Ironic. Never do they reflect on whether their system might be the cause of disengaged kids. Never do they consider that the very students they're expelling are the ones most in need of care, support, and teaching.
School bullying is a big deal, but we seem to be ignoring the real culprits.
While we think it is not OK for the guy in the bar to beat the woman for declining his attention, we think it is OK for adults to take advantage of their strength, size, and authority to mistrust, and control our children, and even kick them out of school for any deviation from their arbitrary standard.
Is it really acceptable for teachers to universally mistrust students? Can the students tell? Of course. How would that make them feel?
The adults build the system, write the rules, and NEVER blame themselves for any failure. Why is it not the school's fault that children are not as engaged? Why is it not the school's fault that kids don't feel compelled to want to learn?
Perhaps it is because the bully never sees himself as anything but righteous.