A Simple Act of Defiance

A SIMPLE ACT OF DEFIANCEMy 12-year-old daughter was defiant toward her substitute teacher this week and I couldn’t be more proud. At first glance, that statement would baffle most of us, including myself. Shouldn’t she be a model student when there’s a substitute in class?

Absolutely, yes. However, in this particular case, her defiance was the right thing to do. In fact, I consider it civil disobedience that would have brought happiness to Thoreau’s heart to hear. I know I felt this way when my daughter related the story to me the other day. I was not expecting such a tale, and by the end she was a little hero in my book.

We have decided to share the story here, but we are omitting names of which people are discussed and also leaving our own names out of it. Who we are is not as important. Which school this occurred at is not important. What is important is the message that comes from this story, which my daughter will share here in her own words:

My History and English teacher is awesome because he kind of merges History and English into one. He asks questions instead of just giving us answers and he is a great teacher I learn a lot from. On Thursday, he was not there—instead, there was a substitute teacher.

We have had the sub before and we can never do our work because he is always going on and on about how he was in a movie and how great he is and how we could be doing better like him.

We sit down and right away the sub is talking about how politics is what we should learn about instead and how some of the presidential candidates are terrible and how some of the ones are fantastic and that we should convince our parents to vote for them instead of the other ones who we might already be rooting for.

I get so mad and raise my hand as high as it will go. He calls on me and I start telling him about how this isn’t what we are supposed to be learning about. In the middle of my speaking, he interrupts me and asks the class, “Who wants to learn about reality?”

More than half of the class raised their hands. I got so mad that I stood up and walked right out of the class and went to the bathroom. I was there for about 2 minutes until my friend came to talk to me about how the room was chaotic with people chanting my name. She left and another friend came and said he was still trying to talk about politics.

About every 5 minutes another girl came to visit me. I asked one of the girls to get my pencil and notebook and tell me what to do and she did. I finally decided to go back after I finished my work because by this point he had had a talk with the principal and was no longer talking about politics. 

I saw that my name was on the board, written under a heading that implied I was doing something wrong. I honestly didn’t care that my name was on the board because I knew that I had done the right thing.

There was already another assignment to do but i couldn’t work because he was talking so loudly about being an actor again!

So I told the sub, “I know you have a loud voice because you’re an actor or something, but can you please try to keep it down?”  He said that he talks louder than the rest of the class so if the class would be quieter, then he could be more quiet.

The rest of class went on like this. It was exhausting.

Later that day, my principal told me that the Sub would not be coming back to our school. I learned a lot about what a little 12-year old girl can do to stick up for herself. I felt inspired that I could be that kind of person.

There you have it.

Sometimes, standing up for yourself is the right thing to do. Standing up for what is right is always the right thing to do, even if this means an act of defiance must take place. We had never discussed the possibility of this scenario occurring in her school, yet she knew enough to follow her gut about what was right. She knows from the values we have tried to instill in her that people have the right to think for themselves. To vote for who they believe in. To not be pushed toward a specific opinion.

The school obviously agreed and backed her up. Her classmates obviously agreed and have expressed all kinds of support since then. Sometimes it only takes one person to stand up for what is right, and I’m really proud that it was my daughter this time.



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