Rules is rules
One of my students, an 18-year-old high school student, came to class yesterday and announced that she’d obtained her driving licence.
Her classmates and I congratulated her, but she then asked all present to keep it quiet as it was against her school’s rules.
I asked how exactly it contravened school rules, and she replied that it was simply that. Students were not permitted to have a driving licence. I asked if this meant simply that they were forbidden from bringing vehicles onto school property. She said that, no, there was a blanket ban on even being qualified to drive. I asked how this was enforceable when the students were outside school, say in the evenings, at weekends, or during school vacations. It didn’t matter, apparently. ‘The Rules’ still apply. I was dumbfounded.
But I suppose I shouldn’t have been. It all sounded eerily similar to a story her classmate sitting opposite had told me before Christmas. She’d arrived for class that evening looking a bit glum. She later revealed the reason was that a teacher at school that afternoon had gone apeshit at one of the girls in her class for having a mobile phone.
I immediately imagined a teenage girl sending email on her phone during the lesson instead of listening to the teacher. But no, it was far more complicated. And far less plausible.
The story as it was explained to me is as follows. The teacher had apparently ‘discovered’ a ‘mobile blog’ that this student had evidently made. This has revealed her ownership of a mobile phone, and that contravened school regulations.
(A potentially disturbing aside I’ll add at this point is that I can’t imagine how this middle-aged male teacher ‘stumbled’ across her site unless he was specifically googling the names of his teenaged female students.)
“But she surely made the site in her own time at home, not at school,” I said.
Again, it didn’t matter. Mere ownership of a phone was against school rules.
At this point I was still struggling with the concept of the school dictating what students can and can’t do in their own time. But then my wife chipped in, adding the example that many students must wear their school uniform if they go into the city centre at the weekend. Some are even forbidden from going at all…
I’d like to ask any teacher trying to enforce these insane rules whether they enjoy a beer after work. Assuming they do, I’d feign outrage – “A schoolteacher, drinking? Would you drink during lessons too?!” To which the teacher would probably reply, “No, of course not, but we’re talking about my free time, my private life.”
To which I would simply answer, “Quite.”