Jackson was an obedient student who always followed the rules. At school, he would only do what the teacher asked him to, and at home, he would follow his parents’ teachings. He was so obedient that he didn’t dare do anything without permission.
One morning, Jackson had a test at school. The teacher handed out the papers, and without a word, returned to her seat to monitor the class.
An hour later, the bell rang and the teacher collected the papers. However, when she collected Jackson’s, she noticed that it was blank.
“Why didn’t you study?” she demanded.
“I did!” responded the innocent boy. “I studied for an hour every night this week!”
“Then why is your paper blank!?” the teacher was shocked.
“Because…” said Jackson hesitantly, “you didn’t say we could start the test, or write. You just handed it to us…”
“Didn’t you see your friends writing on their test papers?” she continued.
“No,” he said. “We aren’t allowed to look at other students…”
“Why didn’t you ask the teacher?” she asked.
“Because we cannot ask questions during the test…” Jackson noted.
The teacher realised the boy had made a very good point, and thought for a moment.
The teacher was stuck in a dilemma (problem) because she had two options. If she failed the boy for not doing the test, it would be unfair because he actually followed instructions. However, if she allowed him to do the test during recess, it would be unfair to the other students who’d already completed theirs.
In the end, the teacher still had to give him a “zero” because his test was blank.
Jackson felt very angry and hurt, but he started to realise that following the rules blindly without using his head could easily get him into trouble. That day, Jackson learned that he had to think for himself instead of waiting to be told what to do. The teacher also realised that being too strict and having too many rules was stopping her students from thinking, growing, and becoming independent.
That week, the teacher brought the class together to talk about which classroom rules would be helpful. Together, they managed to shorten the list from 20 rules down to 5. The students and teacher were all satisfied with the new list, and from then on, the students were happier, and the teacher was much less stressed.
Moral of The Story If you follow the rules without thinking, you might walk into a trap.