Friday, May 12, 2006

Random thoughts

These are just a few random things I've encountered in the past week or so:

  • There's a federal agency involved in this wiretapping/phone record searching thing with the initials B.F.F. No lie.
  • Pabst Blue Ribbon (yes, the beer) is now a corporate sponsor of National Public Radio. I'm not sure if it was the national version or the Nashville version, but I got a kick out of hearing PBR sponsoring public radio. The little ad talks about the beer winning the Blue Ribbon in whatever year. I'm kind of wondering if the NPR crowd is really the main demographic for PBR. I mean, I love it, but it makes you wonder.
  • The 7th graders at Brentwood Middle School get my respect for standing up to "the man" during lunch on Wednesday. In the face of threatened home room lunch and quiet lunch, they rallied and cheered and banged on their tables in defiance of a blustery coach yelling at them. Way to stand up to authority!
  • Related to that topic, what is it about middle school lunchroom supervisors? I mean, why is it so crucial that the students stay quiet and reserved? Don't they spend the rest of their day paying attention to adults? Why can't lunch be a time for them to let loose and enjoy one another's company? Is there anything inherently valuable about a "civilized" lunch? I say no. Adults can be so lame sometimes. :)


Patrick said...

I was driving through a small neighboring town on the way to a graveside service when I passed a bar with a HUGE sign hanging outside that said, "COMING SOON: PABST BLUE RIBBON ON TAP!!!" There were seriously three exclamation points. I have never seen a town so psyched about PBR on tap.

Beth said...

Have you ever heard of a "food fight?" As a former student and a teacher, I understand the need for a quiet lunch. Imagine...hundreds of kids out of control (it takes one throw) and a couple of lunch monitors. It can and will happen. Yes, the kids are subjected to quiet times all day, but there is an amount of respect that needs to be shown for orderly conduct. When we work 8 hours a day, we can not lose control, so I think that school is a precursor to future events. Just my opinion...

Alan Bancroft said...

Beth-I don't accept the premise of your argument that a loud lunch necessarily leads to anarchy and food fights. When I eat lunch at another middle school in town, the noise level is pretty high and I've never seen a riot.

Also, I've been known to get pretty rowdy with my friends during lunch on a workday.

I totally understand what you're saying about there being times when orderly conduct is needed, but I'm just not sure that the lunchroom is the place for it. I feel like, in this particular instance, the blustery intimidation propegated by Coach Whoever was more about his own personal comfort than it was about orderly conduct and proper decorum.

My main question is: Why does the relative comfort of the teachers/cafeteria monitors trump the comfort of young people and their desire to socialize with their friends?

Beth said...

Teachers/coaches have been known, on more than one occassion to assert their authority for selfish reasons. However, authority needs to be respected. My parents always said that we may not like the rules of teachers, etc, but it is the lesson of respect that is being taught. If you are sitting with the kids and telling them that the authority is wrong, I believe that you are not helping them learn the respect for others. My mom may not have agreed with the rules, but she never let me know. Later, she did and I respect her for showing me right from wrong. When you go to a restaurant, the noise level (generally, yes there are exceptions, baby crying, Chuck e Cheese)is at a minimum. So if you really want to help students, please give examples of situations outside of the school. The comfort of teachers vs do you know that it is only teachers that are comforted by a low level of noise? Talking is not usually a loud activity, is it?

Alan Bancroft said...

First of all, Beth, I love the debate. Thanks for pushing back.

Again, I think I'm going to challenge a couple of assumptions/premises for your argument.

1. Why does authority need to be respected? Don't authority figures need to act according to the respect they expect? Is yelling at youth really a behavior that authority figures ought to exhibit? Respecting authority for authority's sake doesn't always work for me. I truly believe that sometimes we're called to speak the truth to power, and that applies to school lunchroom monitors as much as it does to government officials and other individuals and institutions that basically represent "the man."

2. I didn't incite the previously mentioned riot, and didn't egg it on. I got quiet the first time he asked. I did smile as it was happening, but didn't encourage any disrespectful behavior. I did, however, ask them if they'd ever been given a good reason for a quiet lunch room. I think that's a totally legitimate question for middle schoolers to ask. Again, as I see it, authority needs to be questioned from time to time.

3. I worked in a restaurant, and the lunch hour was anything but quiet. When you throw a couple hundred kids into a room with all hard surfaces, their combined voices will have some volume.

4. I'm still wondering when it is during the day that young people are supposed to have fun social interaction and to simply let loose a little bit. I'm all for attention to teachers in class, but why does the lunch room have to be quiet? And who gets to decide the proper volume level? And why?

Again, thanks for being a conversation partner. I love a good debate.

BTW, are you a Beth I know personally? If not, I'm sure I'd love to.

Beth said...

Alan, this is Beth from the conference in Chicago, EBPC...ring a bell?! Wow, I guess you have really knocked me down a notch not knowing who I am. Oh well, my ego has been crushed! Now, back to the discussion...You are a youth minister who is supposed to be spreading the good news, am I correct? Where does it say in the good book that authority (higher power, us peons on Earth) does not have to be respected? That is the first rule that you should be shouting out to these kids. I do not agree with a silent lunch unless provoked. You are encouraging the kids to question authority and I like that. However, aren't there laws that we all have to follow even though we don't want to every single time? I may not want to stop at every stop sign or every red light, but that is the law. If you let these kids think that it is OK not to follow the rules, where will it end? They will always expect you to take their side and when you don't, they will be crushed (like my ego!). You are not their parent, but you are responsible for their emotional journey. As a parent, I am told that I can not be just a friend to my kids. The word "parent" is a noun AND a verb. You need to show them that is OK to question authority, but not OK to defy the rules. Yes, the lunch room is a small example, but where do you draw the line on agreeing with the kids all of the time? They will have bigger challenges in life, alcohol, exams, cars...where do you step in and make sure that they are responsible for their actions? I would like for you to see the bigger picture...go beyond the lunchroom and help them look into the future. There is a time and a place for fun, exciting, social interactions. The lunchroom may not be ideal.

Becca said...

First of all, I love the debate as well; in recent years I have grown such fondness for such. Anyhow, just to weigh in on the subject: I totally agree with you, Alan. As a formewr teacher in a school where "silent lunch" was a frequent threat and enacted at will by anyone who happened to be in a bad mood that day, I can say that I hated it. Kids are kids. I don't think being loud at lunch is disrespecting authority. And I sure as hell don't think "standing up to the man," even if the man happens to be a teacher, is a bad thing. Obviously some such displays of defiance should be punished, but most great acts of defiance in history have been punished...that's waht speaks to the masses and encourages creativity, forward thinking and identity. Exactly, in my opinion, what middle school aged kids need at the apex of their time in life when most items of importance are based on superficiality!
Stay strong Alan; be real.