Hall Monitors and No Phones

I got released early from my class today. In order to get a head start on my way to my next class, I wanted to cut through the cafeteria which leads to the other side of my school. I thought I was golden, I would sit in the hallway, maybe do a little reading, catch up on the news, It is nice to get to class early. Equipped with my overweight backpack, and my plastic grocery bag containing my food for the day, I proceeded to make my way through the cafeteria. I get to the door leading to the other side of school and suddenly I hear “No leaving until the period is over”. I then plead with the “hall monitor”, “Oh, but I didn’t have lunch this period”, I say. “That doesn’t matter, wait until the period is over”.

Maybe this sounds like just another “annoyed about having to take the long way” stories, but honestly let’s think about the whole system of hall monitors and no cell phones in class.

Here are a few things I am going to draw from this story.

1. This “hall monitor” doesn’t trust me to walk around school without making a ruckus or causing damage, destruction, doing drugs, etc.

2. These overarching policies schools make regarding kids, there whereabouts, and there prohibitions don’t account for situations that differ from what they see as the “norm”.

3. By not allowing us to simply leave the cafeteria, I and many others, feel as if our school automatically labels us as “childish”.

4. Not allowing us a say in the matters of these policies makes the school seem cold, impersonal, and not our own.

I was in math class one day, I had finished the classwork, begun the homework, and had decided to pack my things, take out my phone, text my friend, and read the news. Immediately I am told to put away my phone on the grounds that I am not supposed to use it in class. Why not? Seriously, why can’t I use my phone during class?

I go to class, but feel as if something going on in the world outside of my school has more relevance to me. Why do schools seek to limit our freedoms and keep us from the outside world so much? No phones? No hallway without a pass? No youtube? Facebook? And an incredibly rude “You can’t do that”, when we try to do these things. We are people and we think. And I personally believe these policies speak volumes about what our school is and how much of a far cry it is from what it should be.

I am a person. Therefore do not talk to me like I am always subordinate to you. There is a time to listen to the people who are supposed to be in charge of you, but there is also a time to tell them to start treating us like we have a place in the world rather than merely exist to go about the day you tell us is important.

“You can’t use your cell phone in here” Yeah? Well maybe I have more important things to think about, maybe your class isn’t doing a good job of making the subject matter relevant and meaningful to me, allow me to connect to the world outside of these walls, that place matters more than anywhere.

“Don’t leave this cafeteria”, Why not? This is my school, I intend to make it my own and go where I want. The policy of prohibiting us from leaving the cafeteria feels meaningless and merely acts to make me feel trapped.

School, and places of learning exist for the students. Teachers, hall monitors, and other such people who feel it is necessary to enact these policies are merely making us feel as if school is not our own. The best way to our minds and our hearts isn’t by making us “sit down and shut up”, but by allowing us to feel as if our learning and our school is our own. DO NOT do that to us. We exist to follow our curiosities and explore. DO NOT take that away from us.

  1. Zoe said:

    Wow, this was really interesting.
    I agree that it is a little weird that you weren’t allowed to leave the cafeteria early. Why do you think that rule was imposed?

  2. They may believe it ensures order in our school. I believe it is unnecessary. School is a place that should feel at home for students. We shouldn’t be treated like we are all constantly getting punished.

    • Zoe said:

      What else leads you to feel like you’re constantly getting punished?

      • I mean there is a lot more to it than just these silly “keeping order” policies. Feeling punished is just a possible outcome of some of them.

  3. Zoe said:

    Do you think everything would be chaotic if you took away those policies?

    • Definitely not. But as I always say, it is a lot more complicated than merely “taking away these policies”. There are attitudes and feelings that have to be dealt with and thought about.

      • Zoe said:

        How would you go about changing everything while also effectively dealing with those other elements?

      • These other elements have to do with everything else. You can’t touch some without not having to touch others. This all has to do with a complete rethinking of how we learn.

  4. Zoe said:

    And how would this “rethinking” go? If you could completely change the education system right now, how would you do it?

    • Here is what I will tell you about this, Let us follow our passions and our dreams, our curiosity and our minds, let us go out of our comfort zone and experience new things.

      • Zoe said:

        Can’t that all simply be incorporated into today’s education system?

      • Simple in that learning is simple. Complicated in that learning is complicated. Contradictions make up our world.

  5. I absolutely agree that students deserve the chance to experience more freedom. But, it is always what is done with that freedom that really matters.

    I unfortunately find it difficult to imagine the overwhelming majority of your fellow students sitting down, having a snack and catching up on the news.

    I’m always beginning with trust – trust that is given with no strings attached, other than the responsibility that comes with it.

    Innocent until proven guilty would be a great idea in this case.

    • We are of course products of our experiences. But a comprehensive change in how we think about learning can help people we label “burnouts” in a lot of cases. Everyone, as I’ve said, is curious. Learning just has to bring that curiosity out. No one wants to go to school as it is today, and to be honest, I don’t blame them. I don’t want to go to school either. We are losing kids. We are losing kids. I cannot reiterate that point enough. Kids act how they act because of how they’ve learned and how they’ve been taught. We have to change all of those things to let our natural curiosity flourish. I understand what you are saying in that maybe yes I am an idealist, but hear what I say and understand that everything, not just little details, needs to be rethought.

  6. I think it’s terrible the way students are treated in school and it doesn’t have to be like this. I feel schools are too similar to prisons in the way they don’t trust the students and order obedience. They say it’s about respect but respect is two-way and has to be earned. I will admit my cynicism of the system stems from an abusive experience of school which included corporal punishment. But even though you don’t mention anything like that and corporal punishment has been abolished in many parts of the world, I still think school can be psychologically abusive. I actually believe in unschooling but for those children who remain in school, I think that teachers should be more respectful towards students.

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