Friday, April 22, 2011

"Right hand on the rail"

"Single file, right hand on the rail."

The Newark Museum is a lovely place, and it's just a stone's throw from Bloomfield. It has "the most extraordinary collection of Tibetan art in the Western Hemisphere," as well as wonderful collections of African and American art; it has a wonderful summertime jazz series; the planetarium is cozy with state of the art projection.

I get why we cannot bring water bottles or chew gum in the galleries. And now I get why kids often hate school.

Single file, right hand on the rail. Why? Because it's museum policy.

I didn't last long in parochial school--made it to March in 1st grade. I bet I'd last only half as long in a KIPP school.

Next time a child looks like he's going to lose it in class, I'll try to remember how I felt when ordered to hold the rail. If I had a morning full of "holding the rail," I might be cranky by 7th period, too.

Yes, I get it, less injuries, better crowd control, protecting the art--
but that's not what our students were told. They were told it's policy--as if "it's policy" serves as a cogent explanation for any rule.


John T. Spencer said...

I have a touch of anarchy in my soul. My hope is that the anarchist in me is able to identify the moments when I am being a tyrant.

doyle said...

Dear John,

"Anarchy" is too often misunderstood. It literally means "without a leader," which is not necessarily a bad thing.

But you know this already--those words are for a few other people.

Jenny said...

I try to give my students a reason for everything I ask them to do (walk in a line, walk quietly, sit on the carpet, etc). I do it so that I least I know I have a reason for asking it of them, that I'm not asking them to do something simply because 'it's policy'. Hopefully, having a reason makes it easier for them to do as well.

That said, sometimes I realize I've been asking them to do something for no good reason. Those are painful moments.

doyle said...

Dear Jenny,

Those are painful moments.

Amen, and ones I've lived too often. I'm getting better, though.