Challenging myopic authority

The Principal
St *********’s College

Tate **********,

Your regretful award of TWO detentions to my son Daniel for VANDALISM OF SCHOOL PROPERTY refers.

I was already having a bad hair day when I received written notice of these detentions. I shall therefore only briefly put aside my real-world dealings with more pertinent educational polemic in Namibia, to address the matter of Daniel’s schooling by yourself and your peers.

To wit, and succinctly so, the act of VANDALISM refers to the WILFUL DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY. This, therefore, is an EXTREMELY SERIOUS allegation against Daniel.

As I understand, in the absence of any supporting evidence to the contrary from yourself or your peers, Daniel stands accused of loosening the door knob of a classroom, resulting in the classroom being inaccessible to grade nine german language scholars for some short period of time. According to my sources, the original screws were replaced to restore the door knob’s functionality, suggesting there was NO DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY. There was, likely, a short-lived state of discomfort on the part of your german language teacher, thus affronted by this prank.

If you and your peers do have cause to call this age-worn juvenile prank an act of VANDALISM, then I applaud your retribution (two detentions) for the vaudeville in schooling it enacts, given the judgment and punishment meted Daniel by your vehmgericht. Particularly so, given the fact that he was recently punished with one detention for having had his shirt partially un-tucked in class at the end of a (hopefully) scholastic day.

I am, however, considerably disturbed by the protracted circumstance of this drama. In particular, and at obvious risk of repeating hearsay, which I trust you will take considered and careful effort to explain, I have the following questions:

1. Why was it necessary for you to use expletives such as “bullshit” and “causing shit” in berating Daniel for the prank in question?

2. Why was it necessary for your vehmgericht to take nearly a week to deliberate the judgment and punishment for this prank, given the fact that you had already insinuated the prank to be an act of vandalism in your preliminary, and apparently heated, discourse with Daniel ?

While I, too, use expletives in the heat of the moment, I find the intimidation inherent in your preliminary insinuation of vandalism noisome. This intimidation, with dire implication of severe punishment, caused undue trauma in Daniel’s already tumultuous stage of teenage-dom.

Speaking of sensibilities, I shall expect you to revise the verdict of the offence for which Daniel stands accused. It appears that you are oft somewhat hasty in charging your scholars with heinous crimes against property and propriety. From my academic standpoint, a previous allegation of “plagiarism” against Daniel, for a well-written and well-researched history essay describing the well-documented events leading up to the first world war, comes to mind.

I entrust you and your scholastic peers with the education of my children. However, I have only tolerated your schooling efforts up to now. While I recognise your cordelieran obligation to school my children into becoming good, god-fearing, clean-shaven and neatly dressed citizens, your current schooling effort with Daniel suggests that you are likely distracted by more pressing educational obligations to consider the highly opportunistic educational value of creative punishment.

Does Daniel deserve to be punished for a juvenile prank? Yes, he does.

While detention may well be fardel befitting an ass, I shall expect you to creatively revise the punishment you have deemed appropriate for the offence (now) in question. For good reason.

Daniel is not an ass; he is a well-socialised, intelligent, brave and caring teenager, who, by virtue of his upbringing, will hopefully remain outspoken and individualistic in his actions. I trust that through positive engagement with his peers, mentors and teachers, Daniel will hopefully avoid translating his challenges of authority into any further juvenile pranks.

May I therefore suggest, given the presently limited bouquet of punishment at your disposal, that you get him to write an essay on some appropriately relevant topic during his own free time over weekends? Essays on the pros and cons of civil disobedience, or the impact of dress code and hairstyle on social norms, or how social activism swung political polarities in France, the Philippines or former states of the Russian Federation, all spring to mind.

I believe that my present remarks address the requirement of personal validity entrenched in your old as the hill detention form letter. I shall not sign acknowledgment of this particular detention form letter, given the highly questionable allegation therein, nor shall I sign any others in future, unless they are radically modified to accommodate creative forms of schooling. I shall avail myself to consider your creative suggestions when these should have cause to arise.

Yours faithfully
Joris Komen

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