There are times in life when we feel the need to make changes. Perhaps we're in an employment situation that isn't moving in the direction we'd planned. Perhaps, we'd like to make a move to another city or region of the country for whatever reason. Perhaps, we want to make changes in lifestyle, or our physical or mental well-being. Whatever changes we want to make, we look at situations like these and say that change is good. There are changes that we can look at and maybe wonder if they might not be as good.
Having had the opportunity to be an educator for over a third of a century and still have opportunities to go into schools regularly as a substitute teacher, I've seen changes and concessions made, some of which have been good, some of which may not have been good. (At times the adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," needs to be pondered.)
There have been numerous curriculum changes in my time as an educator. There had to be. There's more to learn, historically, technologically, scientifically, mathematically and linguistically today. There had to be changes made in these areas of education. Those changes are definitely good. The changes that may not have been so good are the changes that have been made, frequently as a result of pressure, which are said to be "little things" in the eyes of some, but are really there to maintain discipline and order, and sometimes need to be followed without question just because "somebody said so."
J. Paul Lombardo
As I sit in classrooms today interacting with students, I see some young people with some questionable habits. I see gum chewing, which I know is against many schools' policies, yet when you call a student on the violation of that infraction, they express their wonderment, at times, in very disrespectful ways and language, and want to know "What's the big deal?"
I see some outfits which push the limits of decency, and the same "big deal" arguments are made. Some adults often ask that concessions be made regarding students receiving any kind of discipline or possibly losing credit on tests/assignments for breaking rules or regulations regarding coming to school on time, having to turn in work on time (or even at all), following directions specifically, and/or any other rules schools impose on their students.
School rules must be modeled and followed. They are there for the betterment of all students. Following rules must also be modeled by staff and parents. I've often seen people waiting for children to get to their car after school, and some people are smoking, knowing that smoking isn't allowed on school property, but if they're called on that infraction, often it becomes another "big deal" discussion. (A lot like the gum-chewing rule.) I believe that people who want to smoke should have that right, but exercise that right where it's allowed, and deal with the fact that it isn't allowed somewhere, sometimes, because somebody said it isn't.
The same goes for parking in allowed places, not blocking cars. These "little things" shouldn't be changed, shouldn't be negotiable, and shouldn't even be open to discussion. They should be followed because "somebody said so," and that should be that. Maybe adults following those "little things" might help children deal with the "little things" they have to follow.
The job of schools is to prepare young people for life, academically, employment wise and socially. Life in the real, working, and social world is full of rules and expectations. As citizens, we have to follow laws and regulations regarding taxes, how we drive, maintain our property, laws telling us what we cannot or can do, and if we can, where we can do them. In employment, we must follow rules/expectations set by our employers.
Often times, guidelines and responsibilities are established regarding school extracurricular activities, athletic participation, field trips, etc. These extras aren't entitlements to students. They're not rights to anyone. They're privileges and must be earned by adhering to whatever has been established as requirements for earning them. Those requirements shouldn't be changed or negotiated, they should be kept intact. Some think the requirements are just "little things" and should be changed for some. If they are, in fact, "little things," the person wanting the privilege then shouldn't have any problem following them.
Change just for the sake of change isn't a good thing. Change for the betterment of a majority can be a good thing, but we all need to remember that sometimes there are things we have to do, and always will have to do, just because "someone said so."
Yes things/times change. Fashions have changed over time; yet some things we wore 25 years ago have made their way back occasionally, and "my" music has gone many remakes. Laws have changed, yet the idea of the necessity of laws and consequences for the sake of order shouldn't change. Some things in schools shouldn't change. Educators must establish rules for classrooms and schools, rules for participation in extracurricular activities, rules and rubrics for academic achievement, and if they're to be changed at all, they must be changed only by those experienced in the setting governed by said rules for the betterment of the majority.
School institutions aren't places of incarceration; educational personnel aren't police/wardens; rules, regulations, behavioral expectations, and requirements for academic success aren't unconstitutional. They're established to maintain discipline, decorum and are there for the good of all who walk the halls of said institution. Following them without question and/or negotiation could go a long way in making better people, families, communities and possibly a better world.