I received an e-mail from one of the MAPH preceptors this morning that has me utterly speechless.
“As educators at the post-fifth-grade level, we didn’t think we’d have to resort to this but: Who broke the little globe lamp on the bookshelf in Anscombe? It costs, like, literally 15 USD, though none of us wants to pay for a new, unbroken lamp–this situation being, a “more of the principle kind of thing. Especially since we did not cause the breakage of the last, formerly unbroken lamp.”
Now, I’m not sure if “the last, formerly unbroken lamp” refers to this most recently broken lamp that was only unbroken lamp left in the Anscombe lounge or if it implies that at some other time a lamp has been broken–suggesting a string of unsolved, serial lamp-breakings–but either way I’m speechless. Part of me actually hopes that this is only the most recent case of electrical appliancide so as to justify this e-mail.
Why? you ask.
What offends me about an e-mail like this is that while lamenting the fact that they have to address a problem that should only arise in a grade school classroom, the MAPH administrators resort to treating the eighty-nine innocent students as though they were the one guilty student–a play straight out of Mrs. Finklesteins third grade. But then again, everywhere this sort of guilty until proven innocent approach is dominant.
How? you ask. Well, non lamp-breaking is the expected norm or expectation. A broken lamp represents evidence that one person has failed to meet expectations. The response by those who make the rules is to treat all the people as though they might have broken the lamp until one admits their deficiency. Have you been to the airport lately? Have you tried to buy alcohol? Have you tried to surf the web while working in a school or business that uses web filtering products? In each case, the ninety-nine percent who are law-abiding (meet expectations) are treated like the one percent (those who would blow up planes, buy booze underage, or order sex toys at work).
My argument is not that everyone should be presumed to meet expectations until they are proven deficient–consider the cases of surgeons, construction contractors, and other drivers in the morning commute. But, then again, why am I on camera everywhere I go?