‘You don’t have to be here, you are free to leave my classroom’
People’s brains will go to massive lengths to free themselves of culpability.
In my school an example of this is how teachers will frequently say to a rowdy child: ‘you are free to leave’ or ‘if you don’t want to be hear you can just go!’. Or even perhaps rhetorically ask in legitamately baffled anger ‘why are you at school if you don’t want to learn?’
Now the thing is, this isn’t a college. We didn’t pay to get in — it’s a high school. In fact, the majority of students utterly despise their having to go their everyday.
Now, to my knowledge, schools can no longer actually force a child to be in the gates. To my knowledge, if a student wishes to stand up and leave, a teacher cannot grab them by the arms and sit them back in their chair.
These limitations on the teachers’ ability to actually explicitly force the children to do what they want does more harm than good though.
When the forces that coerce an agent into action are invisible, it is incredibly easy to decieve oneself into thinking those forces aren’t there. To forget that every student is forced, on threat of their parents being criminalised, to enter the school gates every day. The school gates. (where else do you encounter gates that don’t let you leave?)
The fact of the matter is, no student is truly free to leave. The students are in school not because they want to learn but because the governement has deemed ~~free babysitting~~ “education” as a right so powerful you cannot refuse it, notably to the one subsection of the population that has no say, no power, and no previous dispotitions to what a free, happy life should be.
In my school, if a student is to ‘leave the class’ as the teachers so frequently mention you are free to do if you don’t wish to be there, the corridor patrol will be called on you and you will be found, collected, and “escorted” to the Behaviour Improvement Room.
No I am not making this up.
In this room you must be completely silent for the remainder of the day. You are detained, and must copy text from the sheet they give you onto a blank sheet of paper for the entirety of the time you are there. If you finish copying, you start again from the beginning. If you talk, you get a strike. If at any point you are seen to not be writing, you get a strike. If you get three strikes, you fail the BIR and that goes on your record, forever. Good luck with your college applications, now get out.
So when teachers say you are ‘free to leave’, perhaps the way in which they mean it is true. You are free to leave the classroom, teachers can no longer physically touch students. But hahaha if you think ‘you are free to leave’ means ‘you will be free if you leave’. Because you certaintly will not. Your 16 year long detaintment which you commited no crimes to earn does not end or suspend once you leave the classroom.
It has been known forever that the most vital step in starting to fix a problem is to admit you have one. By propogating this idea that children are ‘free to leave’ when really they will just end up with a far worse detaintment that will effect them for years after, teachers engage in self deception. George Orwell has known for decades that the language we use effects our morals. By clouding up the word ‘free’ with horrible Hobson’s Choices, we obfuscate the problem and let it propogate that much longer. But what is true is already so, and the truth is you are not free to leave. It never was. Schools are, and have always been prisons.
Schools are prisons.