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Cole Parker

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This article is in Yahoo! news today:


My feeling is this is a principal who badly needs a vacation. He's the type of principal who'd suspend a first grader for a week for having a plastic knife in her lunch bag to allow her to spread her Cheez Whiz on her crackers. Give me a break. This is the only way to enforce discipline? Over nothing? Have they ever heard the term 'overreacting'?

But I had another thought, too. There is a children's book that's commonly read in fourth or fifth grade, titled Frindle. It is about a boy in fifth grade who has a personality clash with his teacher, a no nonsense pedant. The boy coins a word, frindle. He and the teacher battle over him using it, and because the class sees the possibilities, all of them begin using the word, too.

This news story seems to parallel the book very closely, and makes me wonder if these kids, or some of them, didn't read it just a few years ago. Certainly seems a possibility.

The teacher lost the battle in the book. Wonder if the principal will, too? I wonder if the School Board would back a principal who thinks it's worthwhile to fight such a battle, to suspend kids, when much more appropriate control methods are available.


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zero-tolerance policies apparently breed zero common sense.

This stuff is going on all over the place.

A whole boy scout troop on a weekend camp out on a school bus was almost expelled for having metal tent spikes until the district supervisor stepped in.

Pin heads with authority are still pin heads.

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Dang, I always thought that "meep" was what Roadrunner said to Wile E. Coyote and not a subversive word used by students to disrupt classrooms. Guess I live in the dark ages.

On a serious note, whenever authority acts in unreasonable manners it normally backfires leaving the authority with less respect over those it thinks are under its control. I suspect that will be the result of this effort also. While kids can be little monsters, when they discover that they can get under the skin of authority they will continue to do so and there are many of them and they have lots of time to figure out ways to upset authority. Authority, on the other hand, has fewer people and they have other responsibilities to contend with so they almost always lose in the end. If I were a student in that school I would likely be setting up a coordinated effort to get all kids to shout out "meep" at a given time and see if the idiot principal would suspend every kid in school.

On an even deeper level it shows that there is a basic problem with how the school is attempting to enforce discipline. That it got to this stage indicates that there is a basic problem there and the solution proposed will make it even worse. To put it one way, never make a threat that you are unwilling to backup because if you do someone will likely put you in the position of having to eat your words, and of course that does nothing to enhance your ability to control the situation. Not being in the school where I could see what was going on I can't say for certain, but my guess is that had it been ignored it would have passed in a few days owing to the short attention span of most kids. Very few kids will keep doing the same thing over and over when it does not produce the reaction they wanted. Since it is producing the reaction they were after--that of getting under the teachers hides--the kids will continue pressing the issue. Been there, done that, know all about it.

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Exactly right, Fritz.

Kids understand fairness, and understand overreacting, and will take advantage of it. There is also strength in numbers. As you point out, it's difficult to discipline the entire school.

Now they could. If this principal is jerk enough, he could suspend the entire school, dividing the school body by the number of remaining days and having a portion serving suspensions for the rest of the year. I'd like to think someone with some common sense would step in a stop this.

Your solution, ignore it, is best, but if the principal doesn't have much self-confidence, he'd feel he'd lose face doing that, and wouldn't be capable of such an easy solution.

As this is a funny attack on the school authority, it should be met with a funny reaction. I can think of five things to do right off the top of my head.

The principal can't thing of any.


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There is a children's book that's commonly read in fourth or fifth grade, titled Frindle. It is about a boy in fifth grade who has a personality clash with his teacher, a no nonsense pedant. The boy coins a word, frindle. He and the teacher battle over him using it, and because the class sees the possibilities, all of them begin using the word, too.

Heh. I just had my 5th graders read that book.

Clearly, this guy hasn't read Frindle. At the end of the story, we find out that the teacher was secretly working on the kid's behalf, as the "Frindle" phenomenon would have never been as widespread without opposition. By casting herself as a villain, the teacher helped the kid achieve fame and fortune, even though he never realized it until the very end.

Anyway, I had a similar incident with some students last year. They would shout the same nonsense word in the middle of class. Repeatedly. Every day.

I ended up "snap-suspending" a couple of them ( a one-day suspension, given by a teacher rather than an administrator). It sounds ridiculous to suspend someone for something like that, I know, but it became necessary. If a student shouts something every time a teacher is trying to teach, it can get the rest of the class off-balance, making learning difficult, if not impossible. And I can't let a few goofs rob the rest of the students of the opportunity to learn. Plus, managing a classroom is a lot like managing a dictatorship: Hang a few of the repeat offenders publicly, and the rest fall into line. :icon_geek:

So, I can see the principal's point of view. However, I think he's going about it the wrong way. When they interrupt a class, and keep other kids from learning? Absolutely, bring the hammer down. But banning the word will only make it more popular. It's like saying "Don't think about elephants!" - of COURSE they're going to think of elephants! Let them "Meep" 'til they're blue in the face when they've got free time. Let them wear "Meep" shirts. Even better, have faculty and staff start doing it. It'll just be a matter of time until they get bored with it, as it'll lose it's edge. It worked for me.

More people with contempt for authority need to grow up to become authority figures. We know how our own kind thinks.

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Of course the next thing is that everyone does get suspended, but that includes those few who actually do NOT say the word (since everyone is blamed equally), thereby creating a new group of kids who despise authority even more, after being the only supporters up till then.

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