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Thursday, 26 October 2006



What can this this teacher be thinking?

You're right: experiences like that can mark a child for years, or for life; the wax is still so soft and easily takes an impress for good or ill that will last the rest of your life. Most of us have experiences from that age that we can still call to mind with a blush and a shudder.

"The most strenuous efforts of the most committed educationalists in the years since my boyhood have been quite unable to make school into anything but a school, which is to say a jail with educational opportunities." Robertson Davies

Moksha Gren

Wow, I think I would come unglued if my child reported that event. In one fell swoop, this teacher has significantly added to the possibility of the child developing a phobia of public speaking and simultaniously diminished the chances of him developing a positive relationship with reading. If the teacher were trying to screw up this kid...I'd be impressed with efficiency. As it is I'm just steamed.

Moonshot and I have weighing the realities of modern edication since long before she got pregnant. While we love the concept of public schools (diversity, egalitarianism, etc), truth be told...they scare the crap out of us. She used to do piano accompaniment for the local middle school and she brought home the most disturbing stories. So, we've been seriously mulling the idea of home schooling. Luckily we have some time.

Also, good luck with the blog-a-day goal. I won't even pretend to be so motivated.


It probably bears keeping in mind that such horror stories really are the exception to the rule. I realize of course it doesn't necessarily take many such instances to cause a lot of lasting harm, but it is somewhat pessimistic to think that there will be more negative moments than there will be teachers that manage to inspire to increase confidence. It really is a shame that one bad act can undo so much good. Can I tell you that most teachers are terrified they'll do something that causes such harm? It's no excuse and I'm certainly not defending teachers like the one you describe (by all means, whack them with a herring!), but the stress can be pretty bad. How many people can expect to be sworn at or called names in your everyday workplace? I wonder how many teachers have been scarred for life because of the education system. After all, surely this teacher entered out of a love of learning and wanting to work with children. Makes you wonder what happened to them to make them lose their empathy. Sorry...getting off topic...I realize you were pointing out one bad apple and not ragging on teachers in general. :)

Some reassurance: the very fact that you'll be an involved parent rather than one that sees education as babysitting will very likely make the difference, and should take away a lot of the potential harm that could be caused by the flaws in education and some teachers. Most teachers are happy to discuss their methods and curriculum with parents.


The list of quotes you provide that I continue to transcribe is becoming quite staggering.

I'm pretty sure home schooling won't be for us. My wife knows she has other intentions for the post-infant / -toddler phase of her motherhood, and my bread-winning responsibilities will preclude me doing it. I'm kinda nervous about the blog-a-day thing what with the fact I'll be taking a personal 4-day vacation to the other end of the country mid-month.

Certainly aware that stories like this are the exception, but of course it's normally the exception that stands out. And I do have a great deal of respect and empathy for teachers in general, especially taking into consideration the highly unbalanced ratio between levels of responsibility and remuneration. I have certain contempt for parents who rag on teachers yet take a very passive role in educating their own kids.


I taught 3rd graders (8/9 year olds) for years and have worked in public education in some form for the last 8 years.

It would never even occur to me to make a child with a known problem in reading demonstrate that in front of the class. Educators should attempt to protect and nurture children, not emotionally scar them. And I think most educators succeed in that. I believe that this teacher does demonstrate the exception, rather than the rule, but this helps up bear in mind why it is important for parents to be involved in their child's education.

"After all, surely this teacher entered out of a love of learning and wanting to work with children." -Alec

For the most part yes, but not always.


First sentence should have read:

I taught 3rd graders (8/9 year olds) for FOUR years and have worked in public education in some form for the last 8 years. (Doh!)

Last sentence should have read:

For the most part, this is why people become teacher, but not always. (Double doh!)

Alec Lynch

Just be happy Simon can't make us stand up in front of everyone and type until he's happy with us, Alvis. ;)



I don't know if you can do this in your school system, but here we are able to pick our child's teachers in the elementary grades. I requires making a bit of a pain in the ass of yourself, but we did this every year for Max until grade 6. We researched, asked around, observed and then the year before he was to enter the grade, submitted written requests. He always got the teacher we chose for him. It was well worth the effort.

There are some teachers who simply do not like boys and are callous or indifferent, or occasionally cruel towards them, especially in the lower grades when they tend to be fairly rambunctious.


Thankfully for me, the small handful of *very* memorable teachers that stand out for me were all very positively influential. I hope my boys have at least as good an experience as I did.

I'll bring my laptop to Toronto...

You're one o' them people I was talkin' about in my first paragraph, for just the sort of advice you're giving out right there.


This weighs on us, too. I can't believe it's only two years before our little guy will be entering "real" school.

For the most part, my teachers were amazing people. Because of a particularly bad math instructor, however, several of my classmates and I graduated woefully short on mathematical skills.

To relate a personal story, when I was in first grade, I talked a lot. To help curb this tendency, my teacher got a large box, presumably one used for a sofa or a refrigerator, and cut a window in it. She tipped it on end, next to her desk, and put my desk inside it, then had me sit there, facing my classmates for at least a week.

Granted, it was for a behavior issue, not a developmental challenge, but still.

It did nothing to quell my talkative tendencies. Can you tell?


I have been told by a teacher from Italy that his teacher made the "stupid kids"
sit in the front and the "smart kids" sit in the back in his public school.
He was called a stupid kid and he became motivated by this teacher to set up a remarkably good Montessori private school, training center and curriculum center. These centers are still flourishing in the States today. His son and daughter in law now run the school and he has set up another school and training center.

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