One wonders how in an American School (the United States being the self-proclaimed land of the free and/or brave) he finds himself under the constant illusion he has an opinion but are never asked for it. It occurs on every level: between students, between students and their representatives, and between students and their teachers.
Let me pose various examples:
First, take into consideration the 12th graders and their graduation trip. A small group is set on Ibiza, and just this week a meeting was held without prior notice (well, there was talk about holding a meeting, but no dates) in which we were told the options, of which Ibiza was described as the only one valid because it was the only one they had prepared, giving us ballpark figures of location and price. Although it sounded great, there was a sense of manipulation around the whole ordeal.
Then there is the student council. I have nothing to say about the candidates themselves, our president is probably the most qualified for her post. However, when were we asked who we wanted to represent us (besides the class representatives, whose role is less significant, I suppose, than that of the president)? I have been told that “after middle school, we do not vote for our president”. Does that then not make him a monarch, or a dictator? And when were we asked if we wanted our year’s theme to be sustainability, or whether we wanted the flick the switch campaign to be implemented? (Some of us do like to learn with a source of light).
Then there is the sudden interest the teachers have in bringing Barack Obama to the school, and how we are obliged to write him a letter. This is a person I have nothing to say to, as I know fairly little of his policies (basically, I would say that I thank him for being the first black president- which really does not say anything about his qualifications as president, or inspire me to want him to come to our school in the first place. The only reason I might want him to come is as a mere curiousity, or to use the anecdote as an icebreaker at parties). The letter incident is interesting, and is completely blown out of proportion. Today, the parent of one of my seedlings came up to me and said: “Remember you have to write a letter to Obama.” I nodded, though I have no intention of doing so. I believe that this school, which considers itself so democratic, should stop telling us we’re compelled to do anything. Anything we do, even in the classroom, is out of free will—because we want to pass, because we want to take the path in life that leads to college, because we agree with its base philosophy.
Another example of this is the peace sign photo we were also forced to participate in. I personally went voluntarily, because it could not hurt and there is no need to be unnecessarily uncooperative. However, a friend of mine who wanted to study and also hadn’t the slightest interest in participating, was forced by a teacher to go down and pose in a picture where one person less would not have made a difference. On this note, I have been informed that one of the kids in said photograph actually posed middle finger in the air. To you, I tip my hat (no names will be said, but you know who you are).
The kid who “flipped Obama the bird” is probably what we should be aiming to have in this school society. He probably didn’t do it for the reasons I’d like, but still it is a small demonstration that we can do what we want. It really makes no difference to us if we are forced to do senseless things or not, but what bothers me is the lack of respect towards the student (oh, and the slight hypocrisy). You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar, I think, and we are the flies that constitute our school. One would think that Obama’s coming would be for our enlightenment and as such we would be allowed to say If we actually cared if he came or not. One would also think that voting for a trip a whole grade participates in once in a lifetime would not be manipulated. One would expect students to have a bigger say in choosing their representatives.