Bizarre Education Story of the Week – by Elaine Sigal


How can we support our teachers and administrators?  We can do so by recognizing that our children – as adorable as they are – just might not be perfect!  Once we come to this recognition, we can even offer ways to let our not so perfect angels know that they are not always in control, appropriate, or funny.

Case in point:  When one of my sons was in 2nd grade, he was given an assignment to write about Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman doctor, and how she would react if she were never allowed to practice medicine because she was a female.  It was to be a short essay – no more than a few sentences was required.  This son decided that he was going to do what he wanted that day, and was not going to write an essay – of any length.  So, he wrote, “I would say ___ and ____.”  He included two curse words!  Why would he do this?  Well, apparently his older brother, “made him do it.”

He would not apologize.  He would not acknowledge that he had done anything wrong.  ARGH!  I am a teacher, and my son’s teacher called me to let me know what a degenerate my 2nd grade son was.  Then the principal called.  That is when I marched myself into school.  Let me know if you agree with my response to this situation.

I spoke to the teacher and we had a good laugh. Whew – I was not going to be banned from the school!  Second, I spoke with the principal, who was spectacular.  We three agreed to give my son an in-school suspension until he wrote a note to the teacher apologizing.  Sending him home would be way too easy for my son.  The principal had the teacher, “Bring a wheelbarrow of work for him to do, while he sits in my office!”  I thought that this was a marvelous idea.  My son was getting the privilege of being with the principal and getting tons of work done.

Did this action work?  Well, it took THREE days for my son to back down, stop blaming his brother and everyone else, and admit that what he did was wrong.  Has he ever misbehaved since?  Of course he has.  But, he has never since been rude or inappropriate.  Why did this work?  It worked because the school and the parent worked together.  No one brushed this under the rug. No one said, “Boys will be boys.”  No one said, ‘Not my son.”  No one gave in (except my son!)

What would you have done?


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