When I hear of the latest mass shooting tragedies (this week’s in Thousand Oaks, California, last count, 12 dead, and the second most recent only days before at The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 11 dead), I think of my classroom rules.
I’ve been teaching for 26 years and, all that time, I’ve had a rule that there is no eating in my classroom.
And you know what?
People still eat in the classroom.
Because you can’t stop everyone from breaking the rules.
They’re going to do it, anyway.
And they still make a mess.
A huge mess that sometimes is not fixable.
Even though I have a rule that they can’t eat in the classroom, there is gum under every single desk.
It’s disgusting. I hate it.
Of course I want them to be able to chew gum — I mean, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with gum, right? — even though some people who can’t abide by the rule still cause damage.
So it’s not that I’m interested in taking that privilege away from them.
Because I’m not.
But as it turns out, when I have let the rule lapse, it’s worse.
There’s more mess and more damage.
Potato Chips are crushed and ground into the carpet.
Soda is spilled on the furniture and it’s sticky and gross and it ultimately ruins all of our stuff.
Gum is wedged in between the threads of the carpet and it gets stuck on shoes and we carry it with us long after we leave that room.
Sometimes the remnants NEVER go away.
It’s unbearable and it hurts EVERYONE.
But the thing is: I’m not trying to take away their food.
I still want them to be able to eat.
In fact, sometimes I even like to eat myself.
So I’m not saying don’t have food.
If you want food, have your food.
Just don’t eat it in my classroom.
Because I hate the damage it causes.
But of course, there are always going to be people who eat in the classroom, anyway, and they are going to ruin it for everyone.
But even though making a “don’t eat in the classroom rule” may not keep them from breaking the rule, it will help.
It will not infringe on their ability to eat.
It will just set appropriate and reasonable boundaries for them doing so.
And the funny thing is: It’s indisputable that when I have the “No eating in the classroom” rule, it’s MUCH EASIER to spot the people who will abuse it and to do something about it.
They stand out more.
They are more exposed.
Their missteps and mistakes are MUCH MORE noticeable and I can take care of the transgressions more swiftly and expediently and provide the proper consequence for the infraction.
When I have the “No Eating in the Classroom” rule, not only does it increase the chances of the transgressors getting caught, but once we reduce the number of rule breakers, maybe someday everyone CAN eat in class without the same amount of damage.
I mean, a man can dream, right? (see video above).
So in the end, I’m just saying that if I make rules about when and where you can eat your food, it’s more respectful to everyone else.
In fact, since I’m the leader and the one in charge, making the rule is the RESPONSIBLE thing to do.
Continuing to allow the mess and the damage would be UNETHICAL and NEGLIGENT of me.
And maybe some people can live with that.
But I can’t.
Because when I don’t make the rule, then EVERYONE SUFFERS.
And let’s face it, even with some reasonable boundaries. . .
Everyone. will. still. get. to. eat. their. food.
But when we have rules about when and where you can eat, everyone else has a better opportunity for learning and eating and living in peace.
You may say I’m a dreamer.
But I’m not the only one. TZT