"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction." - Blaise Pascal

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About my school

United we stand, divided we fall - Aesop

How it used to be [1997]:
Well, since it was just starting as a new school from scratch, there weren't any rules or uniforms or anything. Our teachers let us and our parents vote and give ideas for what the uniform should be. Originally the idea was that there should be no uniform at all, but a few teachers didn't like that one. So, anyway, we chose our uniform - jeans and a t-shirt kind of thing. Pretty cool hey? We could have necklaces if we wanted to, and we had a comfy jersey for winter. We spent the first year drafting our rules and stuff like that. In fact we were still busy with it way into the second year as well. If the teachers came up with a new idea, they asked us what we thought of it before they implemented it and were willing to change if we asked them to. 

The class atmosphere was really fresh... we could make a joke in class and the teacher would join in and laugh along. The teachers could be our friends. The school was like a family. We could talk to the teachers if we had problems, like if we felt we were getting too much homework, we could tell them and they'd try to give less. In the first year there was no such thing as detention because most teachers didn't seem to like the idea of punishment. I personally did my homework because I wanted to, cause I liked school. It was the best school ever, it didn't even feel like a school.

How it is now [1999]:
The comfy jersey thing wasn't very well-made and kind of fell apart after a while, so we had to think of a new warm thing for winter. The teachers came up with 2 possibilities: a blazer (yuck) and another jacket kind of thing that looked... umm.... not like something people would like to wear. We could only vote between those two. Most people didn't like either of them. The votes were very close in the end - almost even. Eventually we ended up with the blazer. We have a normal jersey too now, and since very few people ever wear their blazers, the principal said we HAVE to wear them in assembly and other functions, even when it's hot. And we're suddenly not allowed necklaces anymore, and the teachers act as if we never were.

As far as the rules go, many of them have been changed too, but we didn't have any say in it. Now if the teachers come up with a new idea it gets discussed by THEM, and if they like it then they just implement it. Never mind what we think. Later on in the first year we got a detention system, and the teachers asked us if it's OK the way it worked. Now it's been changed so that it's much easier to get detention than not to get detention. We had no say. There was even a threat by the principal that if we wear necklaces we will get detention on Saturday. I don't know if anyone got that tho. Nowadays if we tell a joke in class, depending on the teacher, we'll probably get told to shut up and do the work or something like that. Some teachers still have a sense of humour.

The equality's gone. If a teacher forgets to prepare something for a lesson, it's just one-of-those-things-in-life, but if we forget something (like homework) then it's totally unacceptable, and we'll probably get detention.

New changes in 2000:
This century it gets worse. Now the teachers are in bad moods at least most of the time, we are never asked for ideas, and if we try to give them anyway, we are told to shut up because those things have already been decided and the teachers are satisfied with the way they work. Dumb rules can be made and nobody is even allowed to ask Why the rule is there, because the teachers will just say "Because it just is. Respect it". We used to be encouraged to ask 'why?' all the time. In fact it was one of the most-used words and the teachers encouraged us to use it more.

The principal originally didn't want to make a big deal about the rules of the school, and wanted it to be just a guideline kind of thing. Now she says that if we can't fit into their rules then we don't belong in the school and shouldn't be here. There's an official ceremony where everyone has to sign the rules (dedicate themselves to it, as Big Cheeze says).

So, how did it go wrong?
This is what I honestly think the problem is. First of all, right from the beginning there was this one teacher that nobody liked, with reason. Let's call her KlÍr. She was different from all the other teachers, in the sense that she always had to have everything her way. Whenever the school had a meeting and we (the learners) could have our say, she always found something wrong with what we said. It's funny how everything that has changed now is the way she would have wanted it to be back then. She's also the vice-principal. Or at least so it seems, cause whenever the Big Cheeze isn't around, KlÍr takes her place.

My school started out as a democracy that worked well, but KlÍr didn't like our opinions and somehow didn't think it should be right that teenagers can make decisions about their school, so she always contradicted it. Now, we hardly get asked about anything anymore. Sure, all the rules have been finished and set, but not the way we chose them in the beginning. New ones have been added, and old ones have been changed, without our permission. Now we don't get asked, probably because they're scared that if we get too many choices we might want to change the rules back.

Rules start out as a way of preventing us from doing bad things, they start out as a way for the teachers to prevent us from doing things that they think can harm the school as a whole. They start out with good things in mind. But they don't stay that way. The teachers try to find ways of preventing us from breaking the rules. They make more rules. They add some punishment. They become generally stricter. They give themselves 'authority' over us so that we become 'less' than them, so that they have the power to punish us if we break the rules they've set. Pretty soon the democracy is dead. Now they can do whatever they want cause all we are allowed to do is obey. Rules aimed at preventing harm turned into the things that cause harm.

But the big problem with rules is that if they're compulsory and we have no say over them, we will still break them no matter what. Setting rules doesn't prevent us from breaking them, it only punishes us if we do break them. The teachers couldn't manage to make us want to fit in with their new ideas, so they made more rules in the hope that they would be able to control every possible problem that way.

The school didn't suddenly become bad overnight, instead, the rules gradually became more and more restrictive so that we got used to having less and less freedom. More new students came who don't know how it used to be, so they just fitted in immediately. They even thought, "wow, great school" at first, but they didn't know that it used to be much better. A big problem is that the most of the school is made up of the new students who don't know so much about how it used to be. They only know what they've heard from us. But a lot of them don't like it here.

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