All in all, where in the hell did the discipline go?
Horror stories. We were all told tales of rulers being whacked over the knuckles of poor, sweet, try-hard kids in the 1950’s by evil nuns with bad habits. Those same kids grew up to be captains of industry and shatterers of glass ceilings. I don’t ever know what the statistics are, largely because I believe that all statistics are slanted in some way to benefit the people who need to show them, so I am going to make one up to further my own point. The inmates run the asylum in approximately 100% of schools today.
Why is that, and how in the hell am I an authority on the subject?
Because I am a sub. Let’s do some math: Substitute teacher is called in on a Friday before a three-day weekend to replace another sub who has to leave. The class, don’t laugh, is P.E. The kids, ok quit laughing, are in seventh and eight grades at a middle school with a less-than-stellar reputation.
Honestly, the school has been characterized by upstanding citizens as “the inbred school”.
I am the cool sub. I am always the cool sub. Really, all I ever wanted to be was the cool sub. Not only did I have to yell at these kids in order to be heard, I had to watch as the sub for the boys’ side let his kids into the girls’ side, MY side, while I was dealing with my own traumas. I don’t think he was high, but he was watching some internal movie that must have been quite entertaining because he was laughing a lot and slapping his knee. At me? Giving a damn is damn funny, I realize now. Glad to be of some entertainment.
I asked nicely for the girls to stop going outside to gather dirty snow and shove it down each other’s shirts. Floor could get wet?someone could slip?who would get blamed? ME. Every time I asked for someone to do something, or stop doing something dangerous like climbing on the high part of the stacked bleachers, the same answer came out: “I don’t have to.” Or “You can’t tell me what to do.” Or the ever-popular “No!”, complete with back being turned and ponytail being flipped in my face. Over and over.
Oh, the days of paddles and rulers?
Another past-time was putting basketballs under their sweatshirts to look like they had enormous boobs, or one over the stomach to look pregnant. Maybe funny at a frat party, but in school?
I swear I heard one of the boys comment on how hot one girl looked like that? They can’t be more than thirteen, or so. Yikes! Many of them had not dressed out for gym, either. One girl had worn short shorts to school, though, and didn’t have to change. Did I mention there was SNOW on the ground?
Are things so hard for parents that they depend on schools to raise their kids? I went to a middle school concert last month to see a friend’s child play in her jazz band. I came out crying, partially because the girl played so well and unexpectedly credited me for inspiring her to play, and partially because the ratio of kids onstage to parents in the audience was 2:1. That means that ½ a parent showed up per kid. That about sums it up.
Permanent teachers virtually have zero recourse to discipline kids, and subs bear the explosive brunt of impossible scenarios like the one in which I found myself flailing. You might be wondering why I didn’t send the snottiest of them to the principal’s office.
One, because when I asked their names, they gave me fake ones. (I finally determined by process of elimination who they were.) Two, I wasn’t sure they would get down to the office if I sent them. One of them told me she didn’t care if she was written up.
All she would get is detention and she wouldn’t go. I didn’t have the office phone number in my cell, so I couldn’t call. If I left the classroom, I would have been liable for the chaos that would have ensued, and possibly have been sued.
Who is going to back a sub? No one. I also couldn’t trust any of the good kids in the class because I had no idea who they were.
Teachers deal with this crap every day. I have seen vibrant people age ten years, complete with hair falling out, in one school year teaching/babysitting middle school. They have no way to discipline kids and no help from administrators whose main concern seems to be their jobs.
Is it okay to sacrifice good teachers because a few bad ones in the 1950’s treated kids badly and inspired songs like “Another Brick in the Wall”? The Wall has come down, and what’s left is a g*ddamn mess. Kids in this situation don’t have a shot, except to join the family business in Cell Block Six.
Yeah, kids should have rights, and most likely not should not be hit at school (I couldn’t hit a kid). But teachers are suffering and quitting in droves, or getting fired for doing their jobs. The pendulum has again swung to far the other direction. Teachers suffer from a tangible form of post-traumatic stress and nobody gives a damn. I wonder why more schools aren’t sued. Many of them have viable cases, at least in the real world they would.
Teachers try to come up with their own ways to defend themselves. One teacher told me that a slightly effective way to discipline kids is to send the offenders to No-Man’s Land, which amounts to exile within the classroom. She teaches second grade. Stuff like that still means something to a seven-year-old.
I have, however, come up with a massive, far-reaching solution: Solitary confinement. Not I.S.S. (“In-School Suspension”, which amounts to a nap break for the kid), but straight solitary. In a bathroom, so the kid can’t complain that they weren’t aloud bathroom breaks and water. Viable solution. No physical harm. WON’T HAPPEN. “It’s cruel!” What do you call what is happening to our teachers?
One thing I don’t wonder about anymore, though, is why our economy sucks. The attitude of most kids in schools mirrors that of inmates in our prisons and will continue to feed the lack of excellence, I’d even settle for a little mediocrity, until somebody has the balls to do something about it.