So this morning, I tore off the bottom portion of that form my first-grade daughter brought home, and signed it. The bottom portion – not shown in the photograph from yesterday’s post because it revealed too much information about the school – was a permission form for the parents to sign permitting our child to take part in the performance. So I signed that and gave it to my daughter to return to her teacher.
“What about the top part?!” she cried.
“I’m not going to have you sign that and we’re not going to return it,” I told her.
She became very upset. To the point of tears, and wailing that she was going to get in trouble.
So ensued a brief conversation with all of my kids about questioning authority and standing up for principles one holds dear. I told my daughter that if her teacher had a problem with us not returning the top portion of the paper, she could call me and I would be happy to talk to her about it.
Fast forward to this evening. My tenth-grade son left his assignment planner from his AP European History class on the kitchen counter, indicating that it required my weekly signature. Remember, I mentioned that in yesterday’s post? His dad and I have asked him before why we are required to sign it, and he always comes up empty. “I don’t know,” he shrugs. “Can you just sign it?” I asked him tonight if he gets points off when he doesn’t get a signature from me or his dad (because often, he will just forget to ask for one of our signatures, and I notice that when that happens, his teacher puts a red sad face where the signature should have gone). “Yes,” he said.
“I’m not signing it,” I told him.
And it was like his first-grade sister all over again. He got very upset with me, telling me that I’m jeopardizing his grade, yada yada yada.
I have to say, I’m really concerned about this willingness of my kids to unquestioningly submit to authority – at least if that authority isn’t one of their parents. Lord knows they have no problem questioning our authority. Is this what schools are doing – inculcating our kids with this authoritarian mindset? Where is the critical thinking, the learning how to collaborate, the problem solving, the use of creative thought in that? Has it really become all about “Do what you’re told, or there will be consequences”?
I signed his planner but I also sent an email off to his teacher expressing my objections to being expected to oversee the assignments of a 16-year old, and to that 16-year old having points taken away for not obtaining a signature that has absolutely no relevance to his academic progress.
We’ll see where this all goes.