15

I'm currently attending a five-year school about Business and Media Design. I'm in my 4th year and I'm 17 years old.

In the last half year my classmates have become very annoying for me. Today it reached a peak.

We have a very small classroom with 4 rows and 6 seats per row (4 in the 4th row) and we are 21 people. I always sat in 2nd row and it was completely fine.

Now, two of my class complained about their seats. One sits in first row and has problems with her neck because of staring up to the board, although she has chosen this seat on her own. Another one sits in the last row and wants to sit more in the front.

A classmate of mine made 10 different seat plans, in 7 of them I would sit in the corner in the last row. One of them was chosen to be our new plan.

I tried to talk to my classmates that I really don't want to sit there. My reasons are:

  • I want to have good grades and I can't concentrate in the back row because people are so loud all the time and the teachers kind of ignore you there
    • I already sat there most of the time last year
    • I don't sit next to people I can talk to very much, my seatmate only spends 25% of the courses with me
    • I don't want to change seat every break
    • I'm all alone there, I'm already a class-outsider

How can I communicate with them, that this seat is really not possible for me.

PS. I'm from Austria

http://prntscr.com/i8rark (here are the two seating plans if anyone needs them - L.O is the girl with the bad eyesight)

UPDATE: The problem came up on Thursday. The classmate, who made the different seating plans complained to the class teacher. She looked at all the different versions and told the class that most of the time the same people sit in the back row (me, S.P, T.K) and we already sat there last year. Then two of my class volunteered to sit in the backrow and the third back-row-person was drawn by lot. I don't know if I was right or if I overexaggerated but the teacher helped me.

  • 2
    @Tinkeringbell In our age it's normal that the students decide where to sit on their own. If it doesn't work the teacher decides but nobody likes that a lot. We have one student in class who really likes to make plans and organize everything so we are very thankful that he's planning these things. – Féileacán Feb 1 '18 at 15:31
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    why can't the 2 unsatisfied classmates just switch seats? sounds to me like they would prefer each others seat. – Kaspar Scherrer Feb 1 '18 at 16:40
  • @Cashbee The can't because the ones in the last row don't want to sit in the first row and the two in the first row don't want to sit in the last one – Féileacán Feb 1 '18 at 16:42
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    I don't mean switch the whole row, only the 2 people that complained. Also on a sidenote: you don't want to sit in the back row either. They think they are more important than you. If their wishes are respected, yours should be too! – Kaspar Scherrer Feb 1 '18 at 16:50
  • @Cashbee I'm talking about these two people. but they both have a friend who definitely has to sit next to them. – Féileacán Feb 1 '18 at 17:06
22

I'm no personal coach or professional, but I've had my personal share of experience and watched a lot of therapy videos.

Make sure not to sit in the back. Don't be victim of manipulation, although still possibly being done inadvertently and non-maliciously by that person as some people do that naturally.

The trait that is causing you this is lack of assertiveness. People in life will walk all over you because of that.

Disagree with this plan until the end, until it matches something you want.

Escalate to your professor which is the true source of authority, and explain him the problem that you can't sit further because it will harm your learning process.

I think fair seating arrangement shouldn't be decided by a "democratic vote", democratic votes are used to fairly elect leaders. Fair seating arrangement should be based on student's eyesight or learning capacities, or basic first come first served. And you had the desk first.

What this classmate is trying to do is a phony democratic vote but in fact is manipulative behavior, it's attempting to take advantage of your lack of assertiveness and excess of good will so the manipulator can have it his way and guilt you into accepting his way is better than yours.

Your reaction should be to disagree with his plan until the end, and work with the professor to get what is good for you and your learning process.

UPDATE, I would like to expand on when is the right time to use a democratic vote, and when it's not.

As per the following question on the Politics Stack Exchange (the question was asked by me)

When is a democratic vote actually the wrong tool?

The following comment from 50k+ reputation user4012:

"the democratic vote in the classroom would benefit the more politically inclined person that can affect people's opinio" - that is a problem with any political system but in general with democratic systems of any sort in any circumstances. Well-arguing individuals have unfairly large sway over outcomes in any democratic system.

And from this following upvoted answer:

Democracy is not a good way to administer justice.

It is clear that a democratic vote was not the right choice to make the fair decision on that topic, plus you had this seat first. Your professor might not realize that if he is not knowledgeable in those things.

I think you said your professor has not helped you keep your place, and is siding with the nonsense democratic vote. So as the next step, I would suggest an escalation to the next level of authority, which would be the director. You can explain it that you feel you don't belong to the last row and that will hurt your ability to learn well in this class. And that you had the desk first, and a democratic vote on this is absurd.

If that still doesn't work, then escalate further to your your parents to jump in with you, schedule a meeting with the director altogether to discuss this nonsense.

I think this should work to have your voice heard. Escalation is required when unfairness happens, don't apologize for it.

And if none of those things work, let it go. But you'll be ready for next time.

I would be very interested to hear what happens. Keep us posted please.

  • This is a high school... I don't think there is a professor involved? – Mehrdad Feb 2 '18 at 1:09
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    There must be a figure of authority that oversees that class. I think it should be escalated to that person. – Wadih M. Feb 2 '18 at 3:48
  • Depending on the school there might be a year level coordinator or a head of the relevant subject department - but I suppose the principal could also be there as a last resort. – numbermaniac Feb 2 '18 at 6:29
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    @Mehrdad "Professor" is a title frequently used for school teachers in Austria. – AllTheKingsHorses Feb 2 '18 at 10:12
  • @AllTheKingsHorses: Wow, I didn't know. Thanks! – Mehrdad Feb 2 '18 at 10:14
9

Rolling plan: One simple "democratic" solution we had in high school was rolling the seating plan forward by one row every week so if you start the first week of a month in the last (4th) row, you will go to the third row next Monday, 2nd row in the 3rd week and finish the month in the first row before going back to 4th and repeat the process.

You could strongly suggest to your classmates that if they want you to sit at the back against your wishes then a 'rolling' seating plan is the only fair option. As in,

either give me a permanent seat in the first 2 rows or we must have a rolling seating plan.

How does it work?

Many students tend to dislike a rolling seating plan and they prefer fixed seating. I think they will allow you to sit where you like purely to avoid the rolling plan.

If they do agree to the rolling seating arrangement then everyone will get to sit in every row one week per month, and nobody including yourself can complain about such a fair arrangement.

Modified rolling plans can also be devised. You could leave the girl with poor eyesight in the first row and work out a rolling arrangement for the remaining students. That can be done even with 2 less seats in the last row.

Minimal disturbance plan: if most of the students want to avoid a rolling plan then you can use this least disruptive method which interchanges only 2 students at a time, one of whom is yourself, giving you nearly 50% time in the front row. You are forced to sit in the last row against your wishes, so you are entitled to sit in the first row for at least 2 weeks every month. Somebody from the first row must exchange seats with you for 2 weeks a month. There are 5 of them (excluding the girl with poor eyesight) so each of them will have to do this only once in 5 months! That seats you in the front row for 2 weeks every month and in the last row for the rest of that month, which is a minimally disruptive and quite reasonable compromise solution compared to sitting all the time in the last row.

Option 3: all last row students must be allowed to sit in the first row for half the month. What you are stressing here is that they cannot force you to sit in the worst seat from educational point of view unless they allow you to periodically sit in better seats for substantial periods. That might help your classmates understand that it is unfair to expect you to sit in the last row against your wishes all the time.

If they refuse to consider any of these options then you need to complain to the faculty in order to secure your right to good and equitable educational conditions. Make sure the teacher in charge of your class gives you a good solution. Or else escalate to management! But I am confident that one of the earlier steps will solve your problem.

  • We already thought about that several times but it doesn't work. First because we have two less seats in the last row, second because one student has to sit in the first two rows because of her eyes and her friends want to stay with her – Féileacán Feb 1 '18 at 15:47
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    Wait, so other students are allowed to sit next to the people they want to, and you aren't? That's clearly not a fair arragement – andyjv Feb 1 '18 at 15:51
  • Minimal disturbance plan @Serafina Reisinger: if most of the students want to avoid a rolling plan then you can use this least disruptive method which interchanges only 2 students at a time, one of whom is yourself, giving you nearly 50% time in the front row. You are forced to sit in the last row against your wishes, so you are entitled to sit in the first row for at least 2 weeks every month. Somebody from the first row must exchange seats with you for 2 weeks a month.There are 5 of them (excluding the girl with poor eyesight) so each of them will have to do this only once in 5 months! Fair? – English Student Feb 1 '18 at 16:20
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    How does it work? -> it works by annoying people enough that they let you do what you want. haha – Aequitas Feb 1 '18 at 22:43
  • Yes. Education is not a popularity game. And if it works then OP is getting what she legitimately wants @Aequitas! – English Student Feb 1 '18 at 23:12
5

The biggest challenge people face is knowing when to be assertive and when not to. In this case, being assertive definitely would be a good thing here. Obviously sitting in front is more beneficial to you than sitting in the back - in the US, that's generally where the people who want the least out of the class sit.

My advice would be to chat directly with the person doing all these seating charts and explain your reasoning. Simply say "I do not want to sit in the back row; I am interested in the class and feel that I do not belong in the back row with people who are not interested." Be clear and direct but also committed - let your body language show confidence that the situation will be resolved in a way that works for you.

Do not compare yourself to others. Also, I'd leave out the part of being an outsider. Whatever the reason for being an outsider is, don't tell the person that you are or you will most definitely not get what you want.

Edit in response to comment from OP: a "democratic election" that you didn't take part in is no democratic election. Here's a time to be more assertive. First of all, revisit this and explain that it may have been an election but you are not willing to accept the result. You may be seen as "bitchy" or "difficult" but this is high school and you won't see these people in a couple months anyway. You want, no... need, a seat closer to the front and expect that to change.

If they are not going to bend, then take matters into your own hands. Arrive at class earlier, if possible. Select the seat you want. When someone arrives and says "you're in my seat", merely state that you are moving, you do not like the seat you have been assigned, and are not going anywhere. They're welcome to take the seat you had at the back of the room if they want, or there are plenty of other open seats. And leave it at that.

  • I already tried that, but he said I just should accept it because it has been a democratic election. – Féileacán Feb 1 '18 at 15:20
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    It's not very democratic when 70% of the options are rigged against you. – Jess K. Feb 1 '18 at 15:24
  • @SerafinaReisinger How concerned with the seating is the teacher? Do they care at all where any of you sit? Do they demand a seating arrangement, but just let the students arrange it? Would they likely intervene if you ignored the new seating chart? – Kendra Feb 1 '18 at 15:25
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    @Kendra The teachers decide where we sit if some people are chatting while lessons or if someone complains to the teacher. – Féileacán Feb 1 '18 at 15:33
4

In our age it's normal that the students decide where to sit on their own.

Maybe I am missing something, but if your comment above is accurate, what prevents you from making your way to this class ahead of your friends and picking the best available seat? The sooner you arrive, the better chance you have of having your needs met.

Your problem seems to be with reconciling a social objective with your academic objective. Why can't you do both, but just at different times of the day? Do what you need to do for that particular time of day. That means that during class, you put your academic objective first. Outside of class, you will surely have plenty of time to focus on the social.

This is called compartmentalizing. It's a valuable skill to develop. It's purpose is to remove all distractions unrelated to that which requires your immediate attention.

  • But how should I just take the seat if the seating plan gives it to someone else? – Féileacán Feb 1 '18 at 20:31
  • @SerafinaReisinger: So it's not that each student individually decides where to sit each class? Instead the students collectively agree on a seating plan and then stick to it? What exactly are the official school rules surrounding this? Or is this fixed seating plan something that your classmates are drawing up purely on their own, without any academic rules to enforce it if people violate it, only social? i.e. could someone complain to the teacher that you weren't obeying the seating plan and be taken 100% seriously? – Peter Cordes Feb 2 '18 at 11:36
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    @PeterCordes There are no school rules, it's just the common way to deal with this problem. If I don't stick to the plan then the other students complain to the teacher, I don't know if there are any consequences to it – Féileacán Feb 2 '18 at 11:46
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If there really is no way to get the class to agree, then you will have to do random seating. You can even re-roll the seating arrangement once a month so that no one is stuck in a bad seat for too long.

Method: Put all classmates names in a hat; but exclude the names of students who currently sit in the last row. Draw 4 names, and those students sit in the last row this month. Now make sure all remaining names are in the hat and draw for the remaining rows.

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    Extremely effective arrangement to ensure fairness @andyjv! – English Student Feb 1 '18 at 16:35
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    Although randomness is a good equalizer, I don't think it's workable here because you separate friends from each other which could help in the learning process, you displace 100% of the class which is unnecessary work, it would be giving a sort of collective punishment to everybody. – Wadih M. Feb 1 '18 at 17:48
2

Make a Plan based on the wishes of all (little algorithm to make this plan):

  1. Everybody makes a list of all rows sorted based on their preferences
  2. Make a plan that satisfies all first wishes
  3. If the number of people in all rows fitts with the number of seats your done
  4. Else beginning with the row with the most supernumerary people
  5. Role a dice (or use a random number generator (e.g. from google if you search for random number generator online)) which Person have to move to his or her next preference.
  6. Rebuild the Plan with this new distibution
  7. goto 3

Or if you want a less technical advice: Talk with the others ;)

2

The solution: Get over it! No seriously, let me explain why:

  1. Life sucks and you will find that you will never get the best opportunities for yourself. You have the option of taking them and standing up for yourself while pushing someone else down, in which case you will benefit in the short term but suffer in the long term because those people you squashed will come back to haunt you in some way, shape, or form). You have the option of being the one squashed, which you already know how it feels, since this is the case, the actual optimal solution here is to be the squasher. Simply stand up for yourself and demand a better seat... Just realize the consequence. But you will at least learn to be a bit more balanced which will actually be a good lesson for you at a young age, just don't go to the other extreme.

  2. The class is only a few months maybe? If you think sitting in the front will make you learn better then you have a lot to learn. You must learn to maximize the minimum... this means you must learn to make the best of the cards you are given, because you can't do change those cards.

    What this means is that you can learn to be a bit more disciplined and become a better learner. You shouldn't even have to show up for class(unless it is mandatory) to learn, specially now days. You can learn everything you need from a book and from the internet. If not then you are using the seating chart as an excuse not to learn and you don't realize it. If you had the perfect seat, you'd still complain about something. There is always something to complain about... and complainers are very good at getting good at finding something to complain about and even inventing something to complain about.

    Next time, make better decisions. I know it sucks, life sucks. It's not your fault. Figure out a plan! Don't think that those that lead really have a clue, because most are clueless.

  3. You could learn to be a leader and come up with proper solutions yourself. This means a solution that satisfies everyone. You say "Hey, you can't make everyone happy!"... Oh, but you can! It is your job to find out how. Think outside the box. I will give you a couple of solutions just to prove to you that it can be done, since you and others don't believe me:

    a) Have random seating that changes for everyone every day or every week. The pros - It is better for the brain to have a different view because it learns faster. It is also better for the neck, back, legs, etc, not to stay in the same position for too long. Since position is tied to the view(the girl that is complaining should understand this, since that is her argument), it means it will be better for variety in seating position. Outside the Box: have classes outside every once in a while, or go to the library, or something else... of course your teacher is too stupid to think outside the box this far, but you could lead the way.

    b) You could inspire everyone to do 10m of group meditation at the start of the class... play some nice relaxing music. You'd make up for the loss of time in the enhancement of brain activity that it would provide. If you explain to them that it works scientifically that can't deny it. Again, it's up to you to do your job, not me... I'm not the guy stuck in a small classroom in the back corner... I'm in a different kinda box, it's outside your box.

    c) You can go through life being a lemming or you can be different. Being different requires you to... get this... be different!!! If you are not happy, change it! Don't look for others to tell you how, no one knows but you... remember though, if you make others unhappy in the process you lose!(it's a trick, but it's true! but you'll only find out in the end why!) So come up with a way that makes everyone happy as much as possible and you win!

You have to realize that everyone is doing the same thing: They are unhappy or uncomfortable with something and so they do their stupid shit. The girl with the "neck" problem(an excuse so she can have a better seat because she thinks she is better than you). The people who talk in class and waste every ones time... they don't care about learning nor about you learning and they will cause you to waste much of your time and possibly ruin your life... you could just not go to the class and be better off... of course, unless the admin forces you to go because they think they know what is better for you; yet they don't even know who you are or that you have to sit in the back of a small room trying to learn through the noise of the people they admitted to learn who don't want to learn... and, of course, they have convinced others to pay them to house you in the box... which they can then spend to buy their fancier boxes and boxes on wheels instead of, at least, giving you a nice box to learn in.

See, life sucks! Think about it this way! The teacher is just there to get a pay check and he doesn't even care about you learning either. Your government doens't even care! They've just tricked you in to being in a box, a cell, so you are not out in the streets vandalizing their BMW's! And they got you fooled! Tricked you in to this thing called "school"!

So, you see, you can have it any way you want, it's really up to you to decide. I bet though, if you think outside the box, you could find a very nice solution for all, it might be some work though... happiness doens't come easy. You might have to get your classmates together and protest and tell them you want a bigger classroom... Maybe start protesting and chant "classrooms over BMW's!". Maybe that will get things changed?

Remember, no one here will change your world... and no one here will have the correct solution. Do what you feel is right... communicate with people, but make sure you don't box yourself in; or what have you really achieved? Maybe you'll end up with a BMW, running a school, putting kids in boxes? How do you think these things get started in the first place? Remember! think outside the box!

0

Here's what I would do:

  1. Identify any classmates that are "class outsiders" or not academically focused.
  2. Determine if any of those classmates sit where you wouldn't mind sitting
  3. Approach one of those classmates and ask if they would be willing to trade spots with you.

Keep it simple: "hey, do you mind switching seats with me? I would like to sit closer to the front of the room." In the mediocre public school I attended, there were plenty of kids who had no seating preference and wouldn't mind switching seats. This might be different in your school though.

From your chart, I've identified the following student groups:

  1. L.O: Strong preference for front of room
  2. V.K + T.A + A.F: strong preference for front of room
  3. C.B + V.B: preference for front of room, but willing to move for R.L clique and the V.K clique.
  4. V.F + N.E: no preference
  5. R.L + N.G: strong preference for front of room
  6. F.Z + S.R: no preference
  7. J.K + K.R: no preference
  8. S.P + T.K: no preference

There may additionally be a group comprising L.B + H.S + E.P + M.(J/K)

If the L.B clique does not exist, one of those four are your best bet, otherwise things get complicated. If you are OK sitting in the third row, you can probably swap with J.K and K.R. If you can convince the L.B. clique (if it exists) to move to the third row or arrange their seats in a 2x2 box rather than a 1x4 line of desks, you should be able to get a seat in the second row. It seems really tough to get in the first row.

  • Hey, thanks for the answer! Can you please explain exactly why you think that this is a good idea? Why do you say to take this course of action? What’s the thought process behind this answer? As this currently stands, this is essentially a “Try this!” answer. We require that answers provide some sort of explanation for why they are suggesting this solution, and unfortunately, at the moment this answer doesn't appear to do that. Also, those letters are... a bit difficult to interpret. – Arwen Undómiel Feb 2 '18 at 8:25
  • Those letters refer to individual students (probably initials) from OP's "seating plan" screen capture images linked in the question, @Arwen Undómiel, see prntscr.com/i8rark – English Student Feb 3 '18 at 15:38

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