For most people across North Carolina (or at least my part of North Carolina) today was the first day of school. There were some minor triumphs of the day–like reading my students’ KWL charts and discovering that they had actually learned things last year and retained them over the summer…or having a student as a question that highlighted bias in the text.
But what struck me from today came not as much from my students as from a colleague. On the drive home we were discussing the faculty meeting we had just walked out of about forty minutes prior. Much of the faculty meeting had been spent reviewing the school dress code, going over policies and procedures, and discipline policies. Parts of the meeting looked a little chaotic as staff tried to voice their opinions, particularly since voicing opinions felt like a new experience.
My colleague admitted that he was cringing during much of it. “I don’t really care about rules,” he confessed. “I just want to teach my students what I know they need to know in order to be successful.”
I had to pause. In the one sense, I agree with where he’s coming from–getting bogged down in the nit-picky of shoelace colors is burdensome and suffocating when you want to focus on preparing an engaging lesson for your students.
But then I think back to my Intro to Ed course. Granted, it was one of my least favorite courses in my ed major (sorry to my kind-hearted professors), but one thing that my textbook did do well was emphasize the multiple aspects of what a school is. A school is more than just a place that you go to learn stuff. It’s where you go to learn social skills and life. And much of the time, part of that life is following rules. Not because we need to always follow rules, but because you are part of a community, and being part of a community involved giving up part of yourself and abiding by a covenant. I think that’s more of the lasting impact of a school than any class content.