Sex Ed in Higher Ed

College instructor teaching human sexuality rants about the dumbing down of America, the lost art of manners, grammar and (the perfect combination of both) the thank you note. Also includes random rants about life, pet peeves, and sometimes raves about favorite things.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Little Too Much Mayhem for Me

I just read Teacher Kerri’s post and I feel so helpless. I can’t imagine how she feels on a daily basis.

I suppose we all ask ourselves this question once in a while – or maybe it’s just a sign of getting old, you know, “The good ol' days,” mentality when the good ol' days weren’t really that good, but that’s how we remember them.

But. What the hell is going on in this country? Seriously. In all my years of schooling, I don’t think I ever had anyone threaten to stab me. (At least I’m pretty sure. Maybe they talked about that behind my back.) And yes, I went to Catholic grade school for 8 years (explains a lot, doesn’t it?), and yes, I went to the whitest of the white high schools in perhaps the whitest suburb in the world so perhaps I am not comparing apples to apples (as my friends back in Corporate America liked to say. BTW? Hate that phrase.)

And, it’s migrating upward. We have a wonderful professor in our department who came from a large state school in the south. By “school,” I mean “college,” just so we’re clear. She told me she witnessed a student PUNCH a professor in the FACE because of some disagreement over a grade. A strong right hook. And, ironically, the professor had broken his arm recently so was wearing a cast. Why don’t you kick a three-legged puppy while you’re at it? Not enough to PUNCH your professor in the face, you have to punch your professor who has one functioning arm and one broken one. Call me crazy, but isn’t, say, an “F” in history not nearly as bad as “assault and battery” on your permanent, CRIMINAL record?

One of the things that jumped out at me in Kerri’s post was how much things have changed. (I know. Duh.) But let me elaborate: The thing about the student, the hairbrush and her throwing it in the trashcan? And the parents getting all riled up and now Teacher Kerri has to replace the hairbrush? I think that’s very telling. And it’s not telling us a good thing. I’m not a parent, so I’ll be interested to know what parents have to say about this. Maybe I’ll get a lot of angry posts telling me I don’t know how hard it is to teach kids to value their possessions and then a teacher flings something in the trash and that whole lesson is right out the window. We shall see.

But. I still remember the nuns (ooh, perhaps not the best example) saying, “If I have to tell you to put X away one more time, I’m going to take it away from you.” And sometimes they added, “And you’re not going to get it back, either.” I have a hunch that if, say, I had been compulsively brushing my hair in the classroom (and I’m about 99% sure (Ew! Gross!) that I did – what with the layering and flipping involved, plus I enjoyed displaying my giant comb for all the class to see) and Sister Mary Hot Flash took away my giant purple comb that read, “If You Can Read This, You’re Too Close” and threw it in the trash, well? Too damn bad for me. I can picture the conversation at home that night going like this:

Me: Mom, Sister Mary Hot Flash is, like, SO mean. She, like, totally, like took my comb away in class and like, totally embarrassed me in front of EVERYONE.

Mom: Why did you have your comb out in the middle of class?

Me: Well, because it was, like, after lunch and it was really hot and stuff and --

Mom: Is there a rule about not combing your hair in the middle of class?

Me: Well, not really a hard and fast rule, you know, more like, sort of a guideline --

Mom: Well, that’s too bad.

Me: Will you buy me another comb?

Mom: I don’t think that’s my problem.

Me: WHAT?!?!?! But that’s so, like, NOT fair!! I wasn’t even DOING anything. (And then I probably said, “I hate you,” and “This is the worst family, EVER” and "I wish I'd never been BORN!" and a whole bunch of other things that made my mom wish she had decided to just raise dogs instead of kids.)

There is always the chance that I am deluding myself (and an excellent chance at that), but I really think if I had broken a rule, for the most part, my parents would have sided with Sister Mary Hot Flash and all the nuns over at Our Lady of Perpetual Sentence Diagramming. You know, sort of, “Well, you broke the rule – what did you think would happen? DUH.” (Although my mother, the English teacher, would never have said “Duh,” then. Now she says it all the time. Guess where she used to teach? A giant public middle school in a very socio-economically disadvantaged area. Sorry. I digress.)

I actually just posted a “these darn kids today,” post and I’m so weirded out that I’m going to put on my cardigan, go get my Ricola and my bi-focals and sit on my lawn chair in the driveway and read Reader’s Digest until I feel better.


Anonymous Joceline said...

I am a first year high school teacher, and I have learned the hard way how parents react when you mess with their kids' possessions. I took away a student's cell phone recently because it kept ringing in class, and he refused to turn it off. His mom was on the phone with my department head within an hour demanding that I pay a portion of the phone bill that month since the student was unable to use it for the rest of the school day. For the rest of the school day? I don't seem to remember any pressing needs that required a cell phone when I was in high school, but I guess 2001 (the year I graduated) is pretty much prehistoric. Like you, I don't have kids, so I don't understand the need to swoop in and protect someone in that way, but I suspect that even once I do have kids, I'll let them suffer the consequences every once in a while. The world is truly beginning to scare me.

P.S. The school wholeheartedly supported my right to confiscate the phone in those circumstances. I think I'd find a new profession if it hadn't.

April 29, 2006 6:33 PM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

EXCELLENT perspective Joceline! I appreciate it. And I agree 110% with you - unless the kid is a diabetic, he can live without his cell phone for half a day. When I graduated from high school (1988 - the Paleolithic era) we had pay phones in the lobby and you weren't even supposed to use them during school hours! They were just for before and after school.

April 29, 2006 6:41 PM  
Blogger Art Nerd Lauren said...

Is this the post from today that mentions diagramming sentences? Because oh yeah, things have changed! And I graduated 9 years after you did! I was telling my boss, whose many personal artist statements and things of that nature I will edit for her. She had a particularly long sentence, and I suggested shortening it. She said, "what's wrong with it?" To which I replied, "well, too many clauses. If you diagrammed that sentence, it'd look like a christmas tree?"

Guess what I had to do- that's right, flashbacks to fourth grade, Sr. Assumpta Maria, who called me Christine, and then had my sister in her class just two short years later. Stephanie was called Chrissie. She did know we were sisters. But I digress. My boss had gone to public school, where diagramming sentences was not considered a fun Friday activity. I hated it then, but now at least I know I can write.

This whole post notwithstanding...

April 29, 2006 8:11 PM  
Blogger liberalbanana said...

I am sos glad the school backed Joceline up on confiscating the cell phone because that is fucking ridiculous.

Kids today are seriously out of control. Threatening to stab people? It happens all the time now, it seems like. Stuff like that happens all the time here in DC, from what I hear on the news. And the boy's mom wouldn't even come get her son? HELLO?? People should seriously have to take classes and a test and need to recertify themselves every 5 or so years before becoming a parent.

May 01, 2006 9:04 AM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

LOVE the recertification idea. That's the first time I've heard that one. And parents should also be dinged for the other extreme - i.e., you don't call your son or daughter's COLLEGE INSTRUCTOR if you son or daughter is unhappy with something. Seriously. It doesn't help things.

May 01, 2006 9:37 AM  
Blogger ColoradoCastaway said...

Ok you guys are gonna make me bust out my cane. Since I graduated in 1985 a full three years prior to Teacher Lady. But anyway, If a kid breaks the rules in school I think the teacher has every right to confiscate their property. However, I do not think they have the right to dispose of it. Here is what happend with My daughter in Vegas. On the final day of school she decided to take my $500 digital camera to school to take some pictures(without my knowledge or permission). Cameras were not allowed at school so one of the office ladies(who was on Hall monitor duty) confiscated the camera. Great , Hurray for school rule enforcement. Nice. except that they told my daughter we would have to come get the camera and left it up to her to let us know that tidbit of info. Do you think she told us the school took the camera? Hell NO!! she took it without asking. We found out it was missing when we went to take it on a 4th of July family outing. Well, In July the school office is closed for the summer. So we were forced to wait until the beginning of school in the Fall. When we called the school, the Camera had disappeared!!!. It was explained that since we didn't claim it at the end of the school year it must have been donated to Goodwill along with all of the students Walkmans and other stuff. Needless to say I was pissed. We ended up in a private meeting with the Principal. Eventually, the school replaced the camera because they had never written the procedure for disposal of confiscated property in the student handbook. I had argued how were we supposed to know that they would send it to Goodwill. Especially when they never sent us anything to let us know they even had it, for all we knew someone had swiped it from our house. It's not their property to dispose of but they need to make the parents aware that they have taken it from the kids and return it only to the parents.

May 01, 2006 12:06 PM  
Blogger Schietto Sister said...

While I agree with most of CC's comment, there is a big difference between a brush and a digital camera. It is shocking that the school didn't call you to let you know that they confiscated the camera.

While it probably wasn't the best idea to throw away the brush, (especially if done out of exasperation) as a parent, I would use it as a teaching moment for my child. Rules are not made to be broken; children need to repsect them and the people who create such rules. If I was so upset about the brush, (one time I spent $30 on a brush without realizing it) I would talk to the teacher without my child knowing. On second thought, if my child broke a rule and had been reminded several times about that rule and then lost my $30 brush, I would make him (or her) buy me another brush. I want my kids to feel that I am on their side, but not to the point where they can do anything they want without consequences. Young people are not self-reliant because they are overly indulged.

May 05, 2006 9:18 AM  
Blogger Gurukarm Kaur said...

Which era comes about 4 or 5 before paleolithic? Because that's when I graduated (1970) - and no one even THOUGHT about phones in those days, pay, cell, or otherwise, while in school. A phone was what you'd hounded your parents for your own one of, in your room, for five years before they even agreed to think about it, much less let you have it! And then it was still an extension of the family phone, not your own line. :-)

When I read in the paper that cheating via text messaging is rampant now, my first reaction is WHA???? WHY aren't there rules like: "surrender your phone at the door of the exam, pick it up on your way out..." But, reading your posts here, I'm imagining the reason is because someone tried it, and Johnny and Susy went home and whined to parents who immediately called school and threatened lawsuit should any mere teacher ever again have the gall to temporarily remove Johnny or Susy's personal possession for the duration of 1-3 hours...

Just wait until we all have communications devices permanently implanted directly into the brain. Sigh.

May 08, 2006 12:44 PM  

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