This week my step-daughter will be ending her time as a home school student and become a sophomore attending public high school. This is an exciting, interesting, and some what stressful time for our family but it is one we’ve been preparing for some time now. I have every confidence that my step-daughter will be very successful in this new step in her education.
All that being said I have found myself thinking a lot about the ways in which we school kids and the policies our education systems put into place that aim to produce the best and brightest of our youth (well hopefully somebody believes that these rules and policies are intended to produce the best and brightest). Now, for those of you who have been reading my blog for sometime might already know, I have long had a slight issue with authority. admittedly I am not the overly willfully defiant individual I once was in my youth (particularly during my own high school and college years) but I am still willing to be outspoken when I see people acting in ways or creating rules that seem illogical, ineffective, and overall patronizing and dumb. That said i find all sorts of little bits of the policies governing my step-daughters soon to be high school questionable at best, and downright absurd in some cases.
Regardless, I recognize that there are apt to always be rules that we disagree with. Through personal experiences I have learned that outright rebellion and defiance rarely breed much success in changing the rules we disagree with. I’ve come to believe that educated and persuasive dialog paired with a commitment for honesty, integrity, and human decency are more effective. Sure, sometimes you have to keep at things for a long time, but by maintaining a respectable and dignified disagreement, matched with reasonable and educated alternatives, we are more apt to convince people of the merits of change.
I am heartened then to read a piece on Dangerously Irrelevant discussing 26 internet/technology safety tips for schools to consider. While I am not at this time familiar with what policies are at place at my stepdaughter’s high school, I suspect that pretty much every public school in the country could benefit from reading these 26 points and actually considering their own policies. Furthermore, I would say, that this is a list not just beneficial to schools, but to other organizations as well. In my time working for the public library system I have had many opportunities to consider our technology policies. There are some areas that I think that we are succeeding very well, there are others that I still think could use improvement.
If there is one take away from the list that I think is more valuable than anything else it is the beginning of point E, which reads “Why are you penalizing the 95% for the 5%?” I think that this is an incredibly important consideration for any organizations rules and policies development. We cannot guarantee a world where 100% of the people will always follow the rules. There will be incidents where rules are broken, where people make mistakes, and where, all around, everything goes to shit, but, if we base our systems on sound logical policies the promote compassion and deterrence of undesirable behavior through better education, then the negative occurences should significantly represent the exception rather than the rule. We should not be punishing people who are obey rules and working in a mutually beneficial means with those around them. We should deal with the problems, and work to educate others to avoid being problems themselves. Making rules too strict or oppressive only means that a larger proportion of people are apt to be deemed rule breakers for arguably more minor infractions that may not even be a real problem in the first place.
I like to think that Eliza and I have done a good job of instilling a sense of healthy critical thinking into our daughter so that she will best be able to recognize the way rules and policies are used in the world, to ask questions that need to be asked, and to, most of all, be respectful of the people around her, even those whom she may disagree with.
Anyways, here’s to her and her high school career. Go get ‘em kiddo!