Academic Authority

Sabreen Hussain, Writer

In sociology, power is an individual’s ability to control or direct others, while authority is an influence that is based on recognized legitimacy. We may see this dynamic daily at home, at work, or at any affair in general. Students primarily tend to see this at school with peer seniority, regulations, and especially, with administration. Students are taught to blindly follow authority in the classroom and more often than not, this backfires. Being too authoritarian in an academic environment can stifle a scholar’s imagination, lead to damaged student-teacher relationships, create a negative classroom environment, and persuade conventionality. Unnecessary and abnormal enforcements, such as dress codes, may also contribute to these outcomes. 

Allowing only one specific way of thinking and reprimanding students for going against the norm suppresses creativity and critical thinking skills. This causes students to feel contempt and unmotivated in the classroom. A negative classroom environment that is stressful and offensive for students can inhibit their education. When students feel intimidated or disrespected by their teacher, they may not be able to focus on learning and may struggle to retain information. A despotic approach to teaching may also encourage conformity and discourage independent thought and conceptualizing capacity.

Unnecessary or irrelevant rules such as dress codes are also harmful. Focusing on insignificant issues takes time and resources away from more pressing educational issues, such as classroom curriculum and student well-being. Dress codes are not only futile to academic performance, but they can also limit a student’s self-expression and be discriminatory or unenforceable. No pupil should be worried about what they can or cannot express at school through their clothing, especially when the subjective idea of “acceptable attire” can oppress their originality and individuality. Gender, body type, and cultural background may also play a role in how clothing may be incommodious for certain groups. This makes it difficult to enforce trivial controversies consistently and fairly, leading to unequal treatment. Inquiries have shown that there is no correlation between a student’s clothing and academic performance. Not only is making dress codes unrelated to the educational process but moreover, is causing more harm than good.

Consequently, authoritative administrators and unnecessary regulation at school deprive students of a positive and inclusive learning environment where they feel comfortable and respected. Plenty has changed in education over the years, but there is always room for improvement. Reforming certain practices and customs can establish a more positive and efficient space for teaching and learning!