Honestly, following instruction is actually very difficult indeed, irrespective of how old or how young you are. A friend reported last year that one of the comments on her daughter’s primary school report read: “M has finally learnt to follow instructions.”
This is actually a remarkable achievement, and not one that I have mastered yet. I find that there is a strong link between not following instructions and critical thinking. It is clear to me that critical thinking and blind obedience are mutually exclusive.
I have never in my life been in a situation where blind obedience was beneficial. Aah yes, the malady of blind obedience … Let us count the ways it hurts us.
- It allows for the suspension of thought, I have a brain but why use it. TS Elliot writes of The Hollow Men. “We are the hollow men /we are the stuffed men/ leaning together / headpiece filled with straw.” It is a shame to have a brain and not use it.
- It creates a false sense of security in which one simply follows – lemming-like, sheep-like. Where oh where is your sense of direction, your sense of self and your sense of purpose.
- It creates an acceptance that someone else is in control of your life, that you are not 100% responsible for you – so now you have someone to blame, other than you, if you fail.
- It creates an excuse “it wasn’t my fault.” This is only OK if you refuse credit for the good stuff as well.
- I could go on… and on… and on. But being brainless is no excuse for being boring.
I find it particularly difficult to follow instructions that are arbitrary, or “somer”. (That is the critical part of my brain). I want to know why I must do something, I want to understand the terms and conditions, the limitations of the instruction, but primarily I need to know WHY.
I find it difficult to follow instructions that are not universally applied.
I find it difficult to follow instructions that invade my boundaries, intrude upon my sense of self and privacy. Infringements into my space always generates outrage (and in some instances a tantrum or two). My response is, and will always be, “Get you big fat grubby fingers out …”