I was in 10th grade honours English. I loved my teacher - she was super cool, but didn’t take any shit from anyone. During our time with her, she was going through a rough divorce.
Our teacher had developed this system: if we were good, she’d add “time” to our class, with each “time” being worth ten seconds, so we had to work hard. That meaning, she would give us a free period after we’d built up the exact time that a period extended to be. It was an earned privilege, and we always did our best to try and obtain it. Hell, playing puzzle games and reading was way more fun than a test or worksheet!
We were reading Animal Farm, a book my mom had given to me when I was ten bc she knew I loved to read and enjoyed anything that was thought-provoking. I’d read it then, and again later in my parochial middle school. Living in a big city, public schools aren’t well-funded, and I was lucky to have all my close family scrape together cash for a good education. Needless to say, I was rather familiar with the book.
Now back to the system! Our teacher had implemented a rule that every morning (she taught my first period class) we wood stand up and recite the commandments of animalism. We’d all try our hardest to do it perfectly, lest “time” be taken off our class. But one morning, she was… cold.
My classmates who’d recited before me were all told to sit down and stop reciting, because they were “wrong.” Knowing that, I was confused, as was everyone else. Yet, we all kept trying the same thing. She let the first few people finish. Then, she let people get partially through before she’d utter, “wrong” or something of the sort and deduct our hard-earned time.
It finally got to me; it was my turn. I stood up and started, and was immediately shut down by her. I was frustrated, to say the least. I replied after a second and told her that I was, indeed, right. She muttered for me to sit down. I refused, and by now she’d taken off twenty seconds. Everyone groaned, but I continued to disobey. Eventually, my classmates started telling me to just stop and it turned into yelling at me once I’d lost our hard-earned twenty minutes (meaning we had been halfway to a free period) as I continued to argue. Once we were in the negatives, people were literally yelling obscenities at me. They even yelled at her, blaming her divorce and period. Gross behaivour, mind you.
I didn’t stop.
The teacher said that she was going to call security and have me removed. I replied that it was a-okay with me to do so. I promptly walk out of the room and she followed up by telling me to wait in the hallway. I’d intended to walk to the office myself, but obliged figuring it was no matter to me.
I was in the hallway for about a minute before she rushed out and gently grabbed me by the shoulders. I was rightly confused. She gasped, and stammered out that she had never imagined it would happen. Why was she suddenly not being so ruthless? Why was she flabbergasted? Well, apparently what she’d “wanted” was for us to all fail. That it was a lesson, and she’d have given back the “time” she had removed. It was all about “knowing” what was coming, and how fascism meant that the rules could change at any time, without your knowledge and consent, but you could still be punished for it. She told me that she’d called security, and told them if they saw me in the hall during that call, to excuse me. Nobody had done that before. Apparently, throughout her decades of teaching, not one student had done that. They had all caved and sat down eventually.
You can be that person. In something that matters to us all. It’s not fun, but when has fighting for what’s right ever been easy?