“…had not yet freed her from the gentlewoman’s oppressive liberty.”
-- George Eliot, in Middlemarch
It’s strange to think of liberty as being oppressive, but I have seen it be so, both in school and in life. There are little, invisible chains surrounding students, and any of us, who feel that we are totally free. If we feel no boundaries on our behavior, no borders or margins that mark out the terrain of our lives, it’s rather like living in a limitless desert land, where we are so free that we feel utterly aimless and lost. We feel like we want to ask for some rules and regulations so our wanderings can have some orderliness and purpose. The freedom that some teachers offer – or impose on – their students is like this fantasy freedom we feel when we believe we are the absolute rulers of our own lives. The students, I’m afraid, begin to feel forsaken and lost in this type of freedom, and we, when we imagine we work the controls of our lives, sooner or later learn how lost we really are, and that higher powers than our small minds make our destinies. All of us live in a vast and gracious universe that continuously finds the best path for each of us, and our best bet is to bow a little to its rules and regulations, and to allow our lack of freedom to be the best blessing in our lives. Students should be thankful that teachers take the reins and show them the boundaries and signposts of success, and all of us should say thanks to this sturdy cosmos that shepherds us the way we should go.
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