Grade Two: Failing Lessons in Authority

I have a really responsive stomach. Queasiness is something I feel often. And I also tend to just go with that.

If I’m not feeling well then the best solution feels like removing all the contents and resetting the system completely as quickly as possible.

I’ve always been this way, even as a child. But there are times, of course, where it is a less consensual process between me and my body.

I remember very clearly one such time coinciding with being in class.

I was feeling a bit off. And then suddenly I was feeling very off. My body was giving me very loud and clear signals that I was going to throw up. Very soon. Almost immediately.

I raised my hand but the teacher was busy and I couldn’t really speak without setting things off so assessing the reality of the situation, I calmly stood up from my desk and began making my way to the door to find somewhere appropriate and private to throw up.

I was walking briskly when suddenly I stopped making forward motion and realised there was something physically holding me back.

“What do you think you’re doing?” began the cliche tirade while I desperately attempted to sign the answer.

My teacher was not understanding because she wasn’t even interested in trying to. Though they inquired what I was doing they didn’t actually care for the answer, they were letting me know that it wasn’t my place to make decisions for myself and that I should know that.

It quickly became far too late to find anywhere else to be sick. It was happening. Right now, right in front of me.

Right onto my still angry teacher. Yeah, that happened.

And of course, I was in even more trouble now.

Autonomy is to schooling what evolution is to creationists; it does not exist and you’re definitely not allowed to learn about it. Exercising autonomy is not only discouraged but is a punishable offence.

Some kids catch on fast. I was what school considered a “slow learner”. Either reality is damaging.

And yes, I am aware that it is a necessity within schools for safety. But disregarding a person’s autonomy doesn’t suddenly become appropriate because it happens in the location of school. If schools cannot find ways to exist that honour autonomy then they cannot find ways to exist full stop. They don’t get a free pass simply because it is too costly and inconvenient to treat children like humans.

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