Bill Of Rights (Student Edition): Freedom of Speech, Religion and Seats

Julia Kim, A&E Editor

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Varying from teacher to teacher, each classroom has its own rules when it comes to seating, but all high school students should be able to choose his or her preferred spot in the classroom. Being able to sit with classmates that a student is familiar with helps make the class much more enjoyable, which can be difficult to achieve when seated with unfamiliar faces.

“I see that when you are sitting with people you like, or by your good friends, it leads to stronger group work and better collaboration with projects,” world language department chair Kari Tubbs said. “If I make [a student] sit by someone who, maybe had a disagreement, or they don’t know very well, they’re more intimidated to try to stand up and speak, try Spanish, or make a mistake. Then, I’m not giving them the opportunity to have the best learning experience they can have.”

Many teachers have also stated that the freedom to sit according to student preference has built a stronger relationship between the student and the teacher because students feel at ease in class.

“By letting them choose where they want to sit, it enhances my relationship with them,” English teacher Craig Bark said in an interview with The Campanile. “If they get a little bit of choice, they trust you, and they work better when they know I trust them.”

Many teachers have shown concern regarding students who misuse the privilege of choosing their own seats, stating that it distracts students from focusing on the task presented to them. However, with free seating, classroom arrangements are much more flexible and can be customizable for the learning task every day.

“The purpose of allowing a student to control his or her seat, or controlling where that student is, depends on the learning objective of that period,” Literary and Language Arts department chair Jeanne Jelnick said. “I do not require [assigned] seats. One of the reasons for that is because I want for my students to feel comfortable. I want them to feel that it is their learning space, not my learning space. To me, the classroom is for the learners and should be about the learners: it’s not about the teacher.”

In many cases, students who are in assigned seats may feel uncomfortable with their classmates, leading to a disengagement from the curriculum. The first step to get a student more interested in learning the curriculum starts from helping the student love the class. And that starts from granting them the freedom to sit where they desire.