A lady we recently encountered reported some of the events experienced by her eight-year old in public school. From what she described, the child was guilty of several relatively minor infractions.
Apparently, the behavior misdeeds were in rapid succession. Because I’ve seen all ranges of mistakes and unfortunate behavior by students, it’s difficult to surprise or shock me. But these were minor – get in line now and your homework was due this morning.
The teacher’s responses were extremely harsh. Now you’ve lost your field trip privileges for the week. Next time you do this, you don’t have any free time for the rest of the school year.
Unlike most of us who reside either in the past or the indefinite never never land future, kids understand only the present tense. Why would you threaten an eight-year old with a long-term deprivation?
If I were the child, I would think, Why should I behave? What else can you take from me? My question becomes, what happened to asking why work wasn’t completed or why are you having such trouble following the rules?
There’s plenty of time for kids to endure sincere hardship and scarcity. Rather than demonstrating power, the teacher might have witnessed more positive outcomes with understanding and empathy.
Yes, I realize that I’m hearing only one side of the story. But the lesson remains: Give children (and adults) as many chances to excel as you can create or promote. The possibilities are excellent that remarkable actions will ensue. Shalom.
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