Case and point: using the restroom. Students should have an inalienable right to use the restroom. If you think about it, the reason that they want to use the restroom is because we treat it like a commodity.
In my credential program, my supervising teacher handed out stamped bathroom passes. If you kept them and didn't go to the bathroom, you got 15 points of extra credit. This strikes me as problematic in multiple ways.
- I had to sit there and stamp the passes. It was ridiculous. Let's not talk about how to teach or what the plan for the semester, or even unit, looked like, let's stamp bathroom passes so they couldn't be FORGED!
- Whenever you make something scarce or limited, when it shouldn't be, you turn it into a commodity. This makes it so that students feel like they've won something when they are allowed to use the restroom - especially if they have a limited number of chances and they manage to squirm their way into a free one. It's the bathroom. Sometimes you have to go and you shouldn't have to pay for it.
- Using the bathroom should not, in any way, calculate into an academic grade. I don't even give grades at this point, but if I did, going to the bathroom could in no way be a part of it. If you don't get an essay done, or it's mediocre work, don't worry, just DON'T GO TO THE BATHROOM and you you'll be fine. How can that possibly make sense?
If you treat something as it should be treated - a right - then students will respect it more and abuse it much less. Students so often equate going to school like being locked in prison. There's a reason for that. We treat them like prisoners. Treat students like people. Let them use the bathroom. Sure, have them let you know when they are gone so we can all be accountable, but that's different than asking permission from the warden.