April 25, 2012

Can I go to the bathroom? Really?!?

One of my pet peeves in education are things that are treated as commodities that shouldn't be.

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.
  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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?
There are other things that shouldn't be commodities - pencils, paper, water, passing periods. I could go on, but you get the idea.

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.


Jessie said...

Not going to the bathroom = better grade? Wow, that is a CRAZY system.

And what about, you know, the poor kids who have conditions and just need to go a lot? Way to make them feel bad, anonymous teacher.

Also, holding it when you really have to go can actually be harmful.

Mugi said...

I just don't understand how going to the bathroom and getting a good grade have anything to do with each other. I really hate the fact that the teachers have to be stamping passes when they can be doing more time efficient things. I absolutely agree with you, one hundred percent.

Jeff Russell said...

It's funny because the first thing that they try to teach you in a credential program is how to control your students - that's the entire goal of "classroom management". But, if I were a manager, I'd be getting paid more. I'm not a manager though. I'm a teacher. At best I'm a guide or a leader.

I can't completely control my students. I can't even completely control my dog. She still barks out the window when that other dog, whom she's decided is her mortal enemy, walks by. Students are people and people have needs. We shouldn't ignore that.