I am on a cruise in the Caribbean (and no, that isn’t a problem). One day we were at sea and there were high winds and high waves. Even though it was sunny, the winds were strong enough for them to block the stairways to the upper decks, including the jogging tracks. The doors to these were also closed with signs telling people not to open the doors due to strong winds. Now when I read these signs, they tell me that this could be a dangerous situation. When I see a rope across a stairway with a sign that says “Do Not Enter,” I know that means basically that I should not go past the rope. Even if I couldn’t read or didn’t know English, the rope across the stairs tells me to stop. Don’t you agree? Or maybe I’m missing something.
I was truly amazed at how many people thought this didn’t apply to them. I guess rules only apply to everyone else but not them. I watched people duck under the rope and go up the stairs anyway. And the rope was not easy to duck under because it was low and pretty taut. Yet, I watched people shimmy and crawl under these ropes. I watched them fight the high winds on the upper decks as they walked around. Now, I honestly believe if something happened to them, they would be the first ones to sue the cruise line for safety issues. They take absolutely no responsibility for their actions. Because let’s face it, if they did, they would have followed directions.
Now the thing that really set me off, even beyond the fact that these adults were apparently idiots in my eyes, is that I saw a man bring his young son up there too. It is bad enough that the adults want to risk their own safety but when you encourage a young person to disobey the rules and possibly risk broken bones or even being thrown overboard, someone should bop them over the head! I don’t believe the Captain makes these decisions because he is bored and wants to stir up the passengers. He has to do things like this to ensure the safety of the passengers on his ship.
It took all the energy in me not to go into “teacher mode” and scream at them to follow the directions and get down from there. In fact, it stressed me out so much that we have to go inside and eat more food! (What a dilemma for me! LOL)
But seriously, I wondered what kind of role models these adults were for their own children. Obviously the man with his son had no desire to be an appropriate one. He is teaching his son that rules don’t apply to their family and that it is okay to skirt the rules if you want to do something. Can you imagine what this child might be like in the classroom?
We need to keep this in mind when we are disciplining our students. I’m not saying that we need to make excuses for them but we need to remember that some of this may be learned behavior. I think the best way to approach a student would be to explain why their actions are a problem. I wouldn’t just say that I dislike their behavior but would explain why. There might be safety issues or a rationale for why the rule is there. Just like the laws we have in society, there are rules in a school. We might not like the laws, but we have to follow them. If we don’t like them and don’t want to follow them, we need to work to change them but we don’t just ignore them. I feel if I can reason with my students rather than put them on the defensive, I can usually see an improvement in their behavior. Then I feel like I have been successful in my actions.