Order in the Court

My first period class loves to argue. No matter what is said, they always have an immediate rebuttal.

"Ms. Flower, all our other teachers let us eat in class."
"Ms. Flower, I got the vocabulary word right, I just spelled it wrong."
"Ms. Flower, nobody else is making us work this week."
"Ms. Flower, I spelled this word right. It's not my fault you can't read my writing."
"Ms. Flower, ..."
"Ms. Flower, ..."
"Ms. Flower, ..."


I have had enough! And that is exactly what I told them.

"I have HAD ENOUGH! When I tell you to do something, that is not your cue to argue with me!"

"Ms. Flower, we don't argue with you."

"Oh, REALLY," I said. And it's true that they don't even realize they're doing it; it's become so natural to them that they don't even think about it. They just automatically disagree with every single thing that comes out of anyone else's mouth.

"Ms. Flower--"

"Let me stop you right there," I said. "How about we make a deal? Let's say ... you graduate from high school. And then you go to college for four years and graduate. And then you go to law school and get your J.D. And THEN you can come back into my room and argue with me. BUT UNTIL THAT TIME THERE IS NO MORE ARGUING."

"But Ms. Flower--"

"Go to law school," I said.

"But Ms.--"

"Go to LAW SCHOOL," I said.


"GO TO LAW SCHOOL!" I said. "I promise, I am going to make a t-shirt that will be printed with the words GO TO LAW SCHOOL and then I won't even have to say it anymore, I will just point to my shirt."

The whole idea of going to law school became their next object of fascination, and they didn't argue for at least five minutes. Then I gave them their next assignment.

"But Ms. Flower--"

"LAW SCHOOL," I said, and they giggled, but they got right to work.

Later on, one kid said, "Ms. Flower, I think this answer's right, because technically you CAN--"

"Counselor," I said, "Nobody gave you permission to approach the bench. Now sit down before I charge you with contempt."

It worked. He sat down and he shut up and he did his work. And for two days, whenever anyone has even LOOKED like s/he was going to argue, I'd say, "LAW SCHOOL," and s/he'd know not to waste their time.

["I'm totally making you that shirt, Ms. Flower," one of them told me.
"Good, make enough for the whole faculty," I said.]

Today, after I'd bellowed LAW SCHOOL to a repeat offender, another student said, "Ms. Flower, my mom tells me all the time I should be a lawyer, because I argue with her so much."

"So it's not just me," I said. "That's a relief."

"Yeah, but I don't stop arguing with her," he replied.

"Well then," I said, "Maybe she needs my shirt."


Joon said...

Great story!! I loved it.

X said...

Awesome! I'm going to try that.

Laura said...

Ah, the clever cues. You must put the counselor thing on the back of the shirt. And then market them. I will buy 2.


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