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Kaleb Roberts

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Why do people find the need to entrench themselves in rules and policies?

For me, whenever anyone (especially those in authority) say "Kaleb don't do that!" I feel the instant desire to do it. Although desire probably isn't an accurate synonym. It's more like I have to do it or I'll explode. I've been this way for as long as I can remember.

Now that I have entered the workforce, I find there are so many rules and regulations. Granted, some of these have real merit (such as the recycling policies, and earwig steel cap boots when you enter the workshop)

However, there are some rules that are just plain idiotic. What are some examples of this behavior, why do people do it? Is it because (This is my assumption) they are afraid of the unknown? They are afraid of taking risk? Or is something that happens during the "nurturing" phase of life with overprotective parents. Maybe it's even a genetic thing.


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  • Jan 17 2013: this is an absolutely brilliant question i'm glad you've asked it!

    there are of course evolutionary reasons; we are better off for learning from the experience of others rather than being maimed or killed in finding out for ourselves, which necessitates that these others speak up when they feel they have some knowledge that might be useful. therein lies the problem though of deciding whether our knowledge is of high enough standard to pass on or not.

    i share your feelings about rules made by idiots! as a teacher i frequently came up against very well-meaning parents but without 5 minutes experience in teaching telling my colleagues how they should teach. thankfully this is balanced by a principal who is well aware that he has spent most of the last 10 years outside the classroom and never imposes rules on teaching policy. in the wider world you've got jim carrey, a legendary comedian who also inexplicably feels it's his duty to speak from a position of absolutely no authority on immunisation.

    you might have heard the expression "everyone thinks they are right", and in my experience that is true, however not everyone has reason for thinking so. to give an example, when i have my students retry any test questions they missed, when they bring back their work to me i asked if they got it right this time. some of them just say "yes", and others will say something like "well i looked at the section on this kind of problem in the textbook, and i think i know where i went wrong, and going over it again, i think this is correct now." i believe this is also supported by the really interesting dunning-kruger studies. people in the lower percentage think those above are wrong because their answers are different, and it hasn't occurred to them that they might be wrong, or they'd have checked and learned.

    that said though, it is also possible that these rules you are talking about are great rules, but you don't yet have the experience to understand their merit?

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