Friday, April 6, 2007

Maybe I'm just old-fashioned

Way back when I was a 13 year old (which means we have to go back all the way to the late 1970s), the schools I went to (yeah, we did a bit of moving around 1979) had a fairly simple approach to dealing with a kid writing on a desktop: detention. Now I know, this new 21st century thinking is still a bit foreign to me, but I cannot for the life of me see how arresting a kid for defacing a classroom desk is even remotely appropriate.

Now I realize that simply sending the girl to a principle's office, and perhaps phoning her parents doesn't have quite the same pizazz as having the cops bust into her class and cuff her in front of her peers, and then haul her to a police station. That'll surely show the kiddos that writing the word "Okay" on a desktop is simply not "okay." Or perhaps not. Maybe instead, the kiddos get the message that the authority figures in their lives are prone to way too much overkill over the slightest of transgressions, leading them to have even less respect and trust for the adults in charge than they would have otherwise. I would also imagine that such overkill on the part of school authorities will make their relationship to the kids' parents more adversarial to boot. Let's just say if this were my daughter involved, I'd have pretty much lost sight of imparting the lesson that respect for school property is a virtue and would instead be imparting the lesson that the school system was run by raving lunatics.

In the meantime, I have some advice for any would-be school administrator: the old fashioned approach to having the consequences fit the behavior, while not as glamorous as the spectacle of having your students featured on the next episode of Cops for drawing on school desks, is probably less likely to make you look like a complete ass and more likely to create a tolerable learning environment for the kids.

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