Monday, February 08, 2010

All in all, they're all just bricks in the wall

"When we grew up and went to school, there were certain teachers who would hurt the children any way they could"

So many authoritarian nitwits, so little time to blog. This kid is probably lucky they didn't taser her when she started crying. Almost as disturbing is the reaction of America's least favorite conservative law professor and box-wine sommelier (as noted by Pandagon). Obviously, the teacher cannot ignore a student writing on their desk and must instill respect for the property of others blah blah blah, but I think handcuffing and arresting a12-year-old teaches another lesson - fear your teacher! Don't step out of line! fear school!

Way to put the "Pal" in "Principal" Ms. Grant! What do you do if the kids chew gum in class, waterboard them? I was a fairly well-behaved kid in school, and my high school shenannigans tended to the bizarre and comical, rather than the destructive, but if I had a principal like this running my school, there definitely would have been major problems. It may be that by completely overreacting and responding in a way that would be considered child abuse if a parent had done it, Principal Grant may have done 12-year-old Alexa a favor and taught her a lesson she won't soon forget. Not the lesson she intended, but a lesson nonetheless: The people in charge aren't here to help you. The people in charge will abuse you any chance they get. Property is more important than people to the people in charge. The people in charge are a vicious bunch of hysterical fools more intent on showing they are in charge at all costs than actually doing their jobs.
Twelve is pretty early to learn a lesson like that, but at least there is time for her sense of idealism and trust to grow back.
I don't mean to malign all teachers and school administrators, far from it. I think teaching is a noble profession and that teachers get too little respect, too little credit and too much blame in our society. The vast majority are hardworking,nurturing souls who care about the kids they are trying to educate. Hurrah for teachers.
That said, as in any profession, there are those who have gone into it for the wrong reasons, those who have been defeated by the challenges of the job and now just coast and most dangerous of all, those who abuse their authority. In teaching, as in the police, there is no one more dangerous than a petty tyrant. Bullies suck in any line of work, but one with a badge, gun and taser who has been given a licence to hassle people is dangerous, not only for the abuses of power they commit, but for the effect it has in undermining respect for the law and police. The same is true of authoritarian principals, vice-principals, coaches and teachers who think that they are entitled to bully and abuse the children entrusted to their care. Not only do they traumatize the individual kids they "discipline," but they also destroy the trust of the other students and parents in the system. They teach kids not to ask questions, not to stand up for themselves, not to think independently. Ditto for those petty dictators who insist on enforcing ill-considered "zero-tolerance" policies to the absolute letter, even while completely ignoring the spirit of the rule. They teach kids that being tolerant, reasonable, flexible and even merciful is wrong and that the kid bringing a plastic butter knife in his lunch to spread cream cheese on his bagel has committed the same crime as a kid who brings a machine gun to class.
Principal Grant may think that by having a kid arrested and jailed for writing her desk that she is sending a message to the other kids that she and the school will not tolerate any misbehaviour, but the message the kids will take to heart is that if they are to be hung for a sheep, why not take the whole flock? If just writing on the desk gets you sent to jail, you might as well set fire to that sucker, and the classroom as well, since you are going to be treated the same way for any offense, no matter how small.

crossposted from The Woodshed

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