10.2.13

PROFESSORS GET PAID TO SAY NO AND UPHOLD STANDARDS.

The Deep End of the Pool reopens, and the manager meditates on responsibility.
Our students are, in my view, starved for discipline, and I think we regularly disappoint them concerning it. Of course, as people grow up, most adjust their ideas about authority greatly. It’s a pretty safe bet that their hopes, fears, and expectations about their teachers do not correspond point for point with our own ideas about our roles as helpers and authorities. The child thinks of it in terms of power that might or might not be justified; we, I hope, put reasonableness and justification far forward, and, because it is not the reason we signed up for this teaching gig in the first place, we have to remind ourselves periodically (or rather, students do regularly point out) that we are in fact arbiters and have to exercise the power of our offices responsibly, fairly, and gently.
But we have to exercise them. As Arthur C. Clarke wrote of the space-travelers who salted the galaxy with sentinels, "sometimes, dispassionately, they had to weed."

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