Wednesday, February 29, 2012

School Discipline Fail

This is a story from our local school district:

Teacher Allegedly Ordered Boy With Autism Into Cardboard Box
My mind wanders to some of the discipline my teachers used in grade school.
Usually, public swats served their purpose in the younger years.
By the time middle school years arrived, the intended humiliation was seen more as a form of cred by your peers. Cred increased if you took the paddle with a giggle and held your head high.

 Mr S-, the math nerd who married Miss Bitch-On-Wheels had a good gimmick: He'd just dump the trash can over your head. And you stayed that way for the duration of class.
This was not fun. It was humiliating... of this I can attest.
It was also effective.

There were also The Closets.
The back wall of every classroom was lined with double-door closets, about six feet wide and two feet deep. Maybe five feet high.
One closet was a perfect dungeon in which to stuff an unruly kid.
If you were stupid enough to attempt escape, Mr S- would shove a broom through the door handles. This worked.
Then there was that one kid who busted through the broom handle and heaved a book at the teacher. He was expelled, of course.
But at least he left with his cred intact.

What private school teachers were able to get away with then would never pass muster today.
For the record: Our nuns and teachers took no shit.
But never, at any time, do I think any child was ever abused.
Humiliated and shamed into compliance? Absolutely. That was the point.
Abused? Never.

We didn't deal with special needs in our school. I have no idea what the appropriate response would be, and am not even sure what autism is.
But I'm pretty sure this teacher, despite her training, probably unintentionally did the wrong thing and is in a world of hurt because of it.
And the parents are making a mountain out of a mole hill.


my name is Amanda said...

I have lots of comments about corporal punishment and humiliation, but they could get lengthy. I just want to say that people with Asperger's (a low-level, high-functioning form of Autism) don't have the ability (or, have limited ability) to understand social cues and emotions. They are extremely sensitive to lots of noise and don't enjoy being in large groups of people. I wouldn't say I agree with the old-fashioned methods of disciplining children, but especially a child who doesn't have the ability to understand half the things that are being directed to him by the teachers, it makes my heart hurt to read about something like this. I don't think the teacher is a monster or anything, but I do think it was an uneducated mistake. Teachers in charge of special needs children need to be educated on proper methods of communication; she should have done her research, or her school should have ensured that she had that knowledge.

Jade said...

Autism is a tough one to work with, there are so many variations. I would think a large box (or a tent or a blanket over the desk as described in the article) would actually be a good thing to use, especially if it were something the kid could decorate to make it a comfortable place for him. (I used to use appliance boxes as forts when I was a kid, so that is what I'm picturing)
One point: A quiet place shouldn't be used as punishment. If she was using it as punishment then she needs some training. If she wasn't - if she was just stern when directing him during times she felt he needed the quiet time - then... well she could probably use some training in how to direct the student without it appearing to be a punishment.
Second point: Whether it is a box or a tent or a blanket over a desk... it is *different* from what the other kids are doing and therefore likely to be subject to ridicule. I don't agree with the ridicule, but the simple fact is... kids are cruel. I'm guessing his feeling of humiliation has less to do with the cardboard and more to do with kids being jerks.

Mr. D said...

I had some fun experiences in Catholic school, too. We had one teacher who used to use the "Spock" move on you if you were screwing around. It worked, too. That dude was a bit of a sadist, though.

I have a nephew with Asperger's Syndrome. He's a great kid and a borderline genius, but you have to deal with him very carefully. This wouldn't be the right way to do it.

We are also close friends with two different families who have autistic children. Neither of these kids has the ability to function at a level beyond the most basic and both of them now live in group homes. As Jade points out, there's a very broad spectrum with autism and some kids can function in a school setting, but it's always a tough thing.

Gino said...

Mark: yes, the vulcan nerve pinch. that was used in high school by Fr Tom. he was quite good at it.

Bike Bubba said...

And along the same lines....

Oh, and by the way, "Gi zah gin ". I'm lookin' for the ruler now.

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