|source: New Oxford American Dictionary|
Yesterday, G got in trouble by the Legal Department at his public school for assigning a punishment to his students that is categorized as corporal punishment.
Have your attention?
Wonder what he did?
Have visions of spanking?
Nope, he made them sing or recite a poem if his kids left text books, musical instruments, notebooks, backpacks or other items that belong in their locker, but were left behind in his classroom. The non-PE teacher equivalent of running laps.
Which by the way – kids can’t run laps either because it’s corporal punishment.
Let me paint for you the full situation.
G has a huge classroom which is great, except for it is the only place for them to install lockers for the middle school students. The school was converted 4 years ago to a K-8 which means they now need lockers for these kids. Ironically enough, G is the one who found them lockers which were installed in his classroom along the wall. All 100 middle school students tromp in and out of his room between classes to get their stuff or drop off their stuff. Or, as these kids really do – they leave their shit everywhere! I mean, EVERYWHERE. There are days you cannot even walk into his classroom because there are book bags, lunches, coats, sweatshirts and other stuff all over the floor. You know how a teenager keeps their bedroom? Yeah, that’s what they were doing to his classroom.
Here enters the rule he created a couple years ago. The rule was simple. You don’t put your stuff in your locker, he assumes it is lost and put it in the lost and found pile. If it is a text book or binder or notebook or instrument, he puts it in his pile – and you have to earn it back.
He started switching up the punishment from writing an essay, to memorizing and reciting a poem, to singing. Last year, his kids thought it was funny and named it “The Glee” pile. Everyone has had stuff in the pile. And if a kid was too overwhelmed by the idea of singing, G would work out an exchange.
He could have given detention which would have resulted in him losing all of his before & after school planning as well as lunch. He could have been harsher. But he decided it was a minor punishment to fit the crime. And really, it was not a big deal. It did its job.
When all of his kids in one class lost their text books from leaving them around, they were all pretty sheepish with their parents about why they couldn’t study. The parents didn’t care. They were happy that they were not paying replace stuff – like text books, flutes, and other not-so-cheap items.
Until this year. Ten days into school, and a parent decides not to talk to him about her concerns. Or the principal, but goes straight to the legal department.
Today, G was officially told he could not punish the kids anymore by making them write an essay, having them memorize and recite a poem, or sing.
Or else he loses his job.
G has no recourse if kids leave their shit all over his room and treat it like it is their bedroom. He is expected to pick up after them. Nothing else. Last year, he had so much stuff that it fit into 4 large recycle bins and those were overflowing. Given the fact there are about 30 more kids, this problem will be larger.
I should point out that if they were at a regular middle school or high school, their shit would be gone. Do you think the janitor cares? Nope.
The principal is pissed too. The only recourse his middle school teachers have with punishments now is for them to send the kids to the office. This is far from ideal as the goal is to enable the teachers to solve the problems themselves as it could, and often is, the fulltime job of an admin person to handle punishments in a middle school or high school. Now, in addition to everything else, he gets to be the only one handing out punishments.
Anyone else bothered by this one?
Have we really become a society where making kids write an essay as punishment is the equivalent of spanking or caning or flogging?
Or has this gone too far?