Fieldnote, 6 Dec. 2012

Two places today. First to the elementary school, then after that for just over an hour at the Library to make up for the time I took off to meet up with the AHU organization at the Taco place on the northside.

The time at the school again demonstrated to me how difficult it could be to volunteer after-school when students are ready to go home. The difference, though, in the school environment does leave some room for authority in terms of the spatial dynamics and options for students to “entertain” themselves, but at the same time, I had difficulty keeping track about how far I could stretch my authority as community volunteer, and what the teachers of the school expected of me in terms of my authority as adult when dealing with children.

I ended up helping five kids at one table, ranging from math to writing, and later reading to three students. As I was working with students, something happened with a group of students who must have been out of hand with another community volunteer. These two students were reprimanded by Ms. C, and she called their parents. She yelled at them, and she said how disappointed and embarrassed she was that these two young men, who represented their school, could be so disrespectful the volunteer.

I thought to myself, I wonder how far is too far, and how those of us who see these youth for only a few hours a week and can learn to discipline them. I’m not a disciplinarian, that’s something I’ve made clear to myself from the beginning. But discipline seems to be a major way business and education get conducted at this school.

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