One of the misconceptions we have about our freedom is that we have an unlimited amount of it, freedom with no boundaries to do whatever we want. The truth is, we can only experience our freedom within the context of boundaries. This is a useful lesson for us all to learn, and it is even more important and useful for students. Regardless of their level, students need to realize that without boundaries there would be chaos. Some of the boundaries that students need to consider include recognizing rules governing school, recognizing the boundaries around other people’s space, and paying attention to relationship boundaries.
Rules Governing School
In the case of rules governing school, students must recognize that most of these rules govern time of arrival and departure from school, appropriate dress code, and proper conduct in and around school property. School begins at a certain time, and students are expected to arrive on time and be prepared to work. Parents can insist that young people get into bed on time to allow for sufficient sleep. Older students ought to know that they need adequate sleep to be awake and alert in class the next day.
As important is the decision to follow all rules. In school many young people try to assert their independence by breaking rules, but doing so only demonstrates immaturity. Many schools have “No Smoking” rules, and all schools prohibit the use of drugs on school property. The decision not to engage in recreational drug use is an important and mature decision that could save students from serious drug addiction and ultimate school failure.
If you are a young person, start thinking about maintaining proper conduct in class. Students who distract others and disrupt classes may think that they are the life of the party, but ultimately, many of their classmates would come to detest their distracting behavior. Therefore, determine to be a leader and not a follower, and you would find that you are not slave to other people’s ideas, neither would you crave their attention.
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Recognizing Other People’s Space
The second boundary to consider is other people’s space. Many students are ‘social butterflies’ that either get involved in other people’s lives, or involve others in theirs. While being a popular person and having the attention of others have benefits, in the classroom this could be very disruptive for the students and teacher. Older students ought to recognize that they cannot divide their attention successfully between fooling around and doing their work. In the end, they violate other people’s space.
The third boundary that ought to be considered is that of relationships. In the school setting, students relate to their peers as well as to their teachers, principals and other school personnel. Differentiating between these is important. It makes good sense for young people not to address their school personnel as they would address their peers. Parents must teach their children how to speak appropriately to adults by insisting that their children speak to them (the parents) with respect. If young people are allowed to disrespect their parents, and get away with this, there is nothing preventing these students from disrespecting their teachers and other school personnel.
For a young person, showing respect to your teacher, principal, or other adults does not make you less of a person. It speaks volumes about the person you are, and identifies you as someone who respects yourself. Young people need to show respect to their parents, as well as to their teachers and other school personnel.
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Boundaries Promote Learning
Recognizing rules governing school, recognizing the boundaries around other people’s space, and paying attention to relationship boundaries, are boundaries that help to maintain order in the lives of students and help to promote learning. Breaking school rules and not recognizing space and relationship boundaries could lead to chaos for students, and would surely interfere with learning. Avoid chaos by appreciating boundaries!!
Dealing with Disrespect
However, there are times when young people are faced with disrespect from adults and from those in authority. It is important to note that when people are in authority, they hold power that they can use against you, and in some cases, this could be deadly. Remember, always be respectful, but know your rights, and when challenging authority, do it in a way that does not open you up to repercussions or expose you to danger. Also, respect begets respect. If you do not give respect, you cannot expect to be given respect.
There are times that you could be put in a position where the expected response from you could be disrespect, and which would empower those in authority to respond harshly against you, if you resort to disrespect. Be smart! Recognize the anticipated response and don’t fall into a trap. Remain respectful and upright and get out of the difficult situation you may be in, even if it makes you look weak. Remember, in a difficult situation, trying to prove that you are strong and in the right could only doom you to more difficulty.
If the person in authority is picking on you, don’t imagine that you can convince that person not to do so. Recognize the situation for what it is. Once out of this difficult situation, use legitimate means to launch a complaint. If you are finding hurdles using the legitimate means, you may find making the issue public is an angle that may help. In everything you do, think about your safety first.
But You Have a Responsibility, Too
There are times when you may be convinced that you are in the right when you challenge authority. In certain instances, you may not be in the right. There are times when the challenge has no merit. Rather than acknowledge that you were acting on incomplete or erroneous information, you may continue to hold on to your original position. This doesn’t help your cause. Acknowledge your mistake and move on. Maybe your challenge is on the wrong basis, but you may find that if you have used another argument, you would have been in the right. If you want to learn how to welcome and take responsibility, we recommend reading the book “WELCOMING RESPONSIBILITIES – 30 Ways for Older Teens and Young Adults to Handle Responsibilities“. It equips you to consider important responsibilities, make thoughtful decisions, and grow into a responsible adult by learning from challenges to authority.