We are not all equal.
A classroom is not a democracy.
It’s no surprise if kids don’t understand this fact, though. We negotiate too often. We allow class votes too often. This sharing of power has become embedded in our culture. Some parents let the children pick where to go to dinner, which is perfectly reasonable if parents make it clear that this choice is a treat, not a right. Parents let their children walk out of the house in outfits that barely cover the essentials, wearing fabrics so sheer that any coverage may be moot. Parents encourage children to question authority, often without realizing they are doing so. They argue with the principal over dress code violations, sometimes in front of their child.
“If you need to go to the bathroom you go don’t worry what the teacher says,” they tell their child in text messages that break the no-phone-in-the-classroom rules.
Eduhonesty: This post is for parents. If you make it clear that you will back your child regardless of the rules he or she has broken, that child will not follow the rules. After awhile, your child will be regarded as difficult. What happens afterwards depends on staff, rules and administration. I can tell you that teachers tend to give more attention to less difficult children, whether they ought to or not. Administrators tend to believe the worst of difficult children, even before the facts are in.
Adults are still in charge and most of them realize this. Children benefit from understanding they need to follow the rules, even rules that may not make sense to them or sometimes their parents, rules such as the one that forbids skin-tight pants. Learning to obey rules helps prepare students for future life. Picking and choosing rules to follow can only be a loser for a child, and in the long-run for a parent. It’s a short step from rejecting the school’s leggings rule to rejecting a parental curfew. To a child who learns it’s OK to disobey one adult, after awhile all adults may come to look pretty much alike.