Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Ruling Class

It's a pretty ridiculous job. I spend a lot of time getting paid to tell kids not to be kids. From those early morning hours out on the playground, when I start having these kind of discussions: "Marvin, where do we play kickball?"
"Over there." Marvin points to a spot in the corner of the yard.
"Why don't you head on over there and find a friend to play with?"
Marvin had been kicking a ball against a wall without a a particular rhythm or reason. He was doing what six year olds do when no one else is around. He was playing. "Okay,"Marvin's shoulder's slump just a little, as if he had just been caught doing something awful. He takes the ball and wanders off to the kickball diamond.
For the record: Marvin wasn't doing anything awful. He was doing what kids do. I was doing what adults do. I was giving him structure. It's my job.
I tell kids to walk in the halls. As George Carlin once pointed out, this is patently absurd from the point of view of anyone under the age of seventeen. Hallways are the only place you can get up any speed. Just don't do it with scissors in your hand. Or lean back in your chair. I have been teaching for nineteen years, and  in all that time, I have only witnessed one actual injury associated with leaning back in a chair came in the form of a pretty nasty cut from a bookcase that happened to be just a little too close to the landing spot of that unfortunate child. For a few years, I would trot that out at the beginning of each year as the reason we don't lean back in our chairs. It's not the real reason. The real reason is because when somebody falls out of their chair in the middle of class, everything stops. Everyone turns, looks, and laughs.
Except me. I'm the one working hard to impress order on the chaos. I'm the one telling the kids who are chasing each other across the playground that they should stop, because "chase" is not a game. "Tag" is  a game because it has rules. And boundaries. I am the grownup, and I want to have all four legs of a chair on the floor at all times. I want kickball to be played on the kickball diamond. I want kids to stop chasing one another across the yard. Not without rules I don't. It's my job, after all.

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