Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Question Authority

When I was in college, I had a button tacked to the driver side sun visor of my yellow Volkswagen Rabbit that read Question Authority. Looking back on it now, I see it as almost an ironic statement-- I was a very good girl-- but I think the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 must have inspired me to buy it, if not act upon it.

My relationship with authority has evolved quite a bit in the last thirty years.  For example, when I first started teaching I was very secure in the power structure. The superintendent was like your grandfather, the principal was like your dad, and you, the teacher were the benevolent dictator in your classroom. I ruled confidently, just as my teachers had when I was in school, and a lot like the way that I had overseen my younger brother and sister, the children I babysat, my nephews. My show could have been called Tracey Knows Best.

It's not quite that way anymore. Over the years, I've tried to restructure my class to be as student-centered as possible. One of my primary objectives is for the kids to feel like they're in charge of themselves. I've learned that Because I said so isn't a very convincing argument to an oppositional student.

And as for myself? When I look around at the president, the secretary of education, the superintendent of our schools, I see the guys I went to college with: smart, but not necessarily the people I want in charge of me. Yeah... you could say that I have some questions.

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