“I guess your grades are more important to you than your morals are,” my English teacher spits out, lecturing our class about cheating that’s been going on in the school.
My classmates and I exchange glances. Well, yeah, we all seem to be thinking together. Isn’t that what they’ve been showing us since middle school?
and our mental and physical health.
Well, when you indoctrinate kids into chasing after your arbitrary markers of “success”, how upset can you really get when they use whatever means they must in order to reach it? You teach children that their grades define their self-worth and their entire future - oh, lip service is given to “self-esteem” and whatever, but kids aren’t stupid. They see what you do, how you treat grades versus how you treat the supposedly-important self-esteem thing, and they see that it doesn’t match what you say. You give out rewards and incentives to kids who get good grades, but do you give out rewards to kids for demonstrating self-assurance and standing up for what they believe in even when it goes against the obedience teachers and the school system and adults in general want to see from them? No. So kids pick up on the implicit lesson behind those actions, and learn that grades are the Most Important Thing, and standing up for one’s ethics and morals is inconsistently rewarded and may even be punished. And then you get upset when they put that lesson into practice?
I had one teacher during my 12 years of school who actually demonstrated what giving a shit about kids’ self-esteem and confidence looked like. One. She was a long-term substitute because our teacher got sick (or maybe pregnant? I don’t remember, it was the third grade) a couple months into the school year, so she took over and taught the rest of the school year. She encouraged creativity. She talked openly about love and caring for yourself and each other. A handful of us were writing-inclined, and she took us under her wing and helped us write a class play that was also a freaking musical. In the third grade. I still remember those sessions, where every idea was valued even if it was patently ridiculous and impossible, because we were having faith in our own imaginations and abilities and nurturing that was more important to her than getting practical, usable ideas out of us.
And I also remember that the parents regarded her with a sort of tolerant bemusement, and she was generally considered to be a capital-W Weirdo, although a harmless and fluffy type at least. Because that wasn’t how you were supposed to teach, all warm fuzzies and creativity. And that was a lesson, too.
Kids see far more than most adults give them credit for. They may not know the word “hypocrisy” when they’re young, but they sure as fuck get the concept, because it is amply demonstrated for them over and over and over again.
Don’t get mad when “do as I say, not as I do” doesn’t work.