Because I said so.
As a parent I will admit I have used this explanation for things I have asked my sons to do. It is the catchall phrase meaning, “don’t ask me why and just do what I told you to do.” The other day in class I was speaking with my students about an activity we were working on in. One of the students questioned me and asked why we would be doing it. I explained how the particular activity connected to a learning target as well as a skill that would help them throughout the year and beyond. The student was taken back a little and told me that he expected me to say, “Because I said so.”
This took me back a little and I asked the student why he would think I would say that. His reply was teachers always say that or some version of it when questioned about an activity or lesson. I went off script for the remainder of the class and discussed with students how wrong a phrase like that is. I impressed upon them to always ask me why we do anything in class. I am more than happy to explain why we do anything as well as the thought process behind my decisions to do it.
In addition to the classroom activities I create, I also share with students those things we are required to do. For example, district assessments, standardized testing, character programs, and the whole host of other things teachers are required to do with students. While I am not selling anyone out, I am certainly honest with my students about why we do these things and how they are used. Yes, there are times when I have to tell them we are doing this because someone told us we had to so let’s work together and get past it.
As a teacher, if you can’t explain why we are doing something, then should you be doing it? Kids have the right to understand why they are being asked to do things in school and we have the obligation to explain that to them.