People who take on roles of authority — police officers, business owners, parents — are often caught in the trap of being accused of being tyrants.  Tyranny is not authority and knowing the difference with a distinction is important.

When a child wants to touch a hot stove — just to see if it is hot or not — the parent must rightly admonish the child to repress the urge of curiosity by reason or influence.  Sometimes, merely the old chestnut, “Because I said so…” is enough of a deterrent because parents know more than their children and most understand hot things can burn you.

You don’t have to hit a child to teach a lesson.  Proper behavior can be modeled without relying, in the end, on a paddle or a switch.  Words can both correct and encourage.  You don’t have to be a tyrant to be an authoritative parent.

How do we then deal with the student in the classroom who wrongly believes he or she knows the best way to teach a subject instead of the teacher?  Yes, that sort of hubris happens, and I refer to that insidious syndrome as “Ego Without Performance.”

The student, through some sort of curious self-esteem posturing, thinks the teacher can be told how and when to teach.  It’s bizarre when it happens and that sort of notion often leads to a mendacious and dangerous group-think among classmates.  The only way to deal with that sort of insurrection is to plainly state that the instructor does, indeed, know more than the student because that is why the teacher is being paid and the student is paying.  For the student who refuses to accept that intrinsic authority, the only solution is to remove the student from the classroom because it cannot be argued every day that the teacher is wrong and the unwitting student is right.

“Ego without Performance” is a failure of parenting and indicates a lack of successful “Do Not Touch!” warnings in childhood. Those burnt children grow up without boundaries, or respect for others, and they are forever caught in an “I Know Best!” cycle with no way out and no way to penetrate their unknowing mind. We should pity them, but they will always have contempt for us first.


    1. It does always come down to, “If you don’t like the class, then drop it.” Those students usually choose to stay, though, because it seems they prefer the tension they are able to create.

Comments are closed.