Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Lines in the Sand

When going through all my assignments I realized I forgot to publish this post upon returning from break. They say better late than never.
Throughout high school, I had good relationships with my classmates and teachers. Socially it helped for me to be involved in sports, because from them I grew relationships with my peers. I think I treated most of them with respect, at least at first, and I did not have a problem having conversations with anyone. As far as high school drama, I was pretty Switzerland and managed to stay out of it, mostly. Like most other U of I students, I excelled in high school. I did not mind sharing answers to homework and did so frequently.
Though I did share answers to homework, I never gave answers on quizzes or tests. I stayed after school to talk to my teachers every day before practice so they got to know me personally. Showing interest in the material usually got me into their good graces without coming into class with apples for them. Participating in class, again, showed interest in the material no matter how boring it was. However, I was not the most obedient student, and often I would read for pleasure, talk, or do assignments for other classes, while the teacher was talking or while the room was supposed to be quiet. I am sure my teachers did not like my behavior all the time, but most times they overlooked it if I wasn’t disrupting the classroom. Perhaps my teachers were disappointed with what I was doing, but when compared to my classmates who did not seem to care whether they were a disruption or not, my behavior was often excused.
Above all else, I made sure I told the truth as much as possible, whether it would put me in trouble or not. When I did gossip, I told one story with facts that did not change, though the details were sometimes exaggerated. When my teacher asked if I was talking, and I was, I admitted it. If I wasn’t, I would say that I was not, but no matter how much they pried, I would never say who was talking. When confronted, I told the truth, but I was not always transparent and honest. Most times I did not feel like I was cashing in with my social capital, but my reputations with others certainly placed me in favorable positions.
One day, in my Engineering class while we were testing CO2 cars, Adam, a friend of mine, and me argued about whose car would have the faster time. Adam tended to be disruptive in our normal class periods. My teacher, Mrs. Ellis had one rule that she strictly enforced; we could not curse in her class. Adam and I are passionate people, to say the least, and while we were arguing Adam cursed first, though I do not remember what he said. Mrs. Ellis had been setting up CO2 cars, and did not respond to what was said. I had been responding, but I had not cursed until I said, “My car is going to beat the crap out of yours, man.” I did not say crap or man. At which point, Adam made sure to bring this to my teacher’s attention, saying something to the tune of her favorite student cursed. At first, Mrs. Ellis turned and asked my classmates for confirmation, but they said they did not know. It was an obvious lie. I am going to simulate the conversation using quotes for simplicity and flow, but I do not remember exact quotes. She had pulled me aside for this.
“Your friend says that you cursed. Is that true?”
“True that he said I cursed or true that I cursed?”
“That you cursed.”
“Yes, I did. Once.”
“I heard two from you. You know I don’t allow that other word in my class.”
“I don’t think you’re at liberty to govern where that word should be used, but I did curse still.”
“Did Adam curse?”
“I’m not at liberty to say. You would probably know better than me.”
“Ok. Come see me after class.”

It seemed like I got in trouble to my peers. I stayed for a few minutes after class and there was no consequence. She told me not to do it again. The normal punishment for my behavior was a detention. In hindsight, there is no way she did not hear what was said, from either of us, but somehow, we both were not disciplined. The next day, Adam and another student were cursing and they both got detentions. This happened a few other times that school year. I continued to have a good relationship with my teacher, Adam, and the rest of my classmates. I’m not sure how many situations there are where a relationship is totally cashed in. The idea seems movie-like. However, one thing I learned was that telling the truth and standing your ground is powerful.

1 comment:

  1. Late may be better than never but by how much is never specified. Thanks for leaving that determination to me. I love making such assessments.....NOT!

    It's an interesting story but I wonder if it is more of a life lesson thing than something that ties into our course. The underlying issue is whether personal reputation can be a solution to the moral hazard problem. In the story you did misbehave, so that sort of deterrence didn't work. But you didn't compound the error by lying about it after the fact. Maybe that's the moral hazard to focus on - many people attempt a cover up.

    Incidentally, that it worked out for you in this particular instance is not sufficient to say it will work out for you in other circumstances, and indeed I don't think that should be the reason for being honest. In fact, you might trying lying once or twice deliberately, hoping to get away with it, just to see what it feels like after the fact. You do have to live with yourself. You are your own harshest critic. I think that's the real reason to be honest.

    Also, I believe I said in class that if your grandmother ask you how she looks, then the correct answer is - you look beautiful grandma. That is always the right answer in the circumstance, regardless of the objective conditions. Those situations are comparatively rare, but they indicate that the real question is where does virtue lie, not what is the truth? In most cases telling the truth is virtuous, but not always.