Thursday, June 14, 2007

Bottom-Dwelling Teachers

Reason number 27 why we homeschool.

Imagine this scenario: You're a kid in the sixth grade. School is probably not your favorite place, and you certainly weren't counting on receiving any awards as the school year winds down. Mostly you're just dreaming about what kind of fun you can have this summer, and hoping against hope that Mom and Dad won't enroll you in summer school this year.

Then comes the "awards ceremony." You know, one of those deals where other kids — not you — are called up in front of everyone to receive awards for "Perfect Attendance," "Most Improved in 5th Grade," or "Only Kid to Actually Complete a Science Fair Project." You clap politely, if half-heartedly, for the winners. Please let this assembly be over soon, you think to yourself.

Suddenly you hear your name. You wonder why two of your teachers are grinning. Sandwiched between them, the teachers give you two awards. Not awards for some outstanding achievement, but awards designed to destroy what self esteem you've managed to build up over the course of the year. The awards are "Most Likely Not To Have Children" and "Sir Clowns-a-Lot." You also realize that not only are the teachers laughing at you, but so are the rest of the kids, especially those snotty ones who received the "Perfect Attendance" awards.

If you feel the pain and the humiliation, then you understand how this kid must have felt.

I was never one of those kids who got school awards. In fact, the only awards I can actually remember receiving were from my senior year in high school, and they were performing arts awards. I suffered plenty of humiliation as a squirt, but none of it came from teachers. Oh, they may have kept me after class on occasion, or even embarrassed me by pointing out that I was the only one who didn't seem to get whatever math concept we were studying at that moment, but it was never done maliciously.

This kid's teachers probably thought this was all in good fun. Let's tease this kid whom we will never again see, just to let him know there's "no hard feelings." Well, ha, ha. What a great joke.

Now, of course, we're only hearing one side of the story. The local school administrators are doing their best Watergate impression, although they did indicate that apologies were forthcoming (but not so far). Perhaps this child is one of those challenges that make teaching a chore rather than a noble calling. Maybe he was continually being sent to the principal's office for various infractions.

The larger question remains, however. No matter what challenges this kid may have presented in class, does any of it justify the humiliation that these teachers put this kid through — humiliation that will follow him for at least the entire next school year if he stays in his local system — just so they can have the last word?

My daughter works as a teacher's aide in Maryland. She gets assigned the really challenging kids; the incorrigible ones that always seem to come from homes where the parents are as bad as, if not worse than, the kids. The kids she deals with have no respect for authority, no intention of ever doing any actual school work, and she spends the entire year caught inbetween the forces of school policy and parental demands. As bad as these kids can be, they are always dealt with privately. They are never humiliated in front of other kids unless the kid initiates the humiliation.

No, there's no excuse for what these idiots in Indianapolis have done. They need to be permanently removed from the teaching pool before they find some other kid to destroy.

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