13 June 2012
It's All in How We See It
It's the end of the school year, and the end of the year always reminds me of a senior prank at one of my schools. Over the long weekend some students got into almost all of our classrooms and put all the desks up on the roof. When we got to school on Monday morning, our classrooms were empty of desks, and when the students showed up there was nowhere to sit except on the floor. When all is said and done, it was a pretty good prank to pull, though the amount of work to fix it will be much more than anyone really thought of before they actually did what they did.
I witnessed two important lessons in the couple of days after we got back to school. First of all, I noticed that some teachers were miserable because of the lack of chairs. Nothing felt right to them, for the status quo had been changed. Some of them lost the important feeling of being in control and being able to manage their own space and their own classes. Some of them were angry and upset for the whole two days, and their anger didn't help anything, much less themselves. Students told me that some teachers were completely unable to deal with the lack of desks, saying that they couldn't teach their classes at all if there were no desks. Other teachers, though, went with the flow. No chairs or desks? No problem. We'll just work on the floor, and life will go on. Their situation hasn't changed their moods or their perspectives, and they'll make do with what they have.
The other lesson that I saw had to do with the students. When they got to school on Tuesday, they thought that the prank was one of the coolest things they'd ever seen. I can't tell you how many times I heard the phrase, "This is awesome!" But as time went on, the thrill wore off. By the end of the second day of sitting on the floor (we didn't have the available people to spend as much time as would be necessary to take the desks down), many were complaining loudly and wishing that the desks were back. I think they learned that appearances can be deceiving, and that what at first looks pretty cool can turn out to be quite a drag. And I hope that what the pranksters learned is that what seems like a fun thing to do is often going to affect many, many people in ways that you really can't predict, so maybe it would be better to more closely consider any pranks that you want to do when you have the chance.
When all is said and done, it was a very minor occurrence in the world. But even in such trivial events, there are lessons to be learned, if we only do our best to notice them. They are there, if we open our eyes to them!