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By Donna Carman
Landmark News Service
There was a time in years gone by if a teacher had told students to “oink” at a classmate in hopes of shaming him into cleaning up his messy desk, nothing would have been said about it. It may even have been funny, and may have accomplished what the teacher hoped.
However, those days are long gone, and having students oink at another one is, to say the least, totally unacceptable.
Such is the case of a kindergarten teacher at an elementary school in Roane County, Tenn.
When I first saw the headline on this story, I thought, “Are you serious?” Surely, surely, a teacher would realize if she had students oink at another student, indicating that he was a pig (messy and/or overweight), she would bring all kinds of trouble down upon herself.
Well, if it were a teacher just getting out of school and starting her career, she probably would have known this because there’s probably all kinds of sensitivity training being taught these days.
However, the teacher in question is a 37-year veteran.
As said above, there were probably times in her career that this was OK.
According to the story, another teacher entered the kindergarten teacher’s classroom on March 16 and saw a student in the middle of a circle of other students. The students in the circle were oinking and making pig sounds at the little boy, and he was crying.
The second teacher told the kindergarten teacher that this was inappropriate, to which she responded that she was tired of the student’s messiness.
Apparently, the boy’s teacher had told him on more than one occasion that he needed to be neater, but on this particular day had made a statement that, “Your area looks like a pig sty. Oink! Oink!”
The story went on to say that the teacher told the rest of the class to make a circle around the little boy, call him a pig, and make pig noises.
When the second teacher discovered this, she reported it to the principal, and the teacher received a scathing letter from the Director of Schools, as well as a behind-closed-doors meeting. She was also given a day’s suspension without pay.
According to the story, when the child’s mother found out what happened, she was understandably upset, calling it a cruel thing to do to a 5-year-old.
While school officials offered the mother the opportunity to move her child to another classroom, she declined, saying she didn’t want to further hurt her son by making him feel like he was being punished by taking him away from his friends. She noted the boy wanted to stay in the classroom.
About a year from now, we’ll probably hear of a lawsuit being filed in this case. That’s the way things are today.
I am in no way condoning this teacher for her actions, because she certainly should have known better than to humiliate a 5-year-old.
But, to look at both sides of the issue, let’s put ourselves in her shoes. How many of us work with small children on a daily basis? I certainly don’t, and I can only imagine the level of frustration a kindergarten teacher must feel at times.
Maybe she reached the end of her rope with Little Johnny and his messiness that day and decided to employ a different tactic. Obviously, it was the wrong one.
I know many good teachers, and I witnessed one recently who had a very good handle on things.
This lady is not only an elementary school teacher, but she also has a group of youngsters on Wednesday night at church who can be rather rambunctious. She brought them outside one night recently, in a single, orderly line. They formed a circle, holding hands, and criss-crossing their legs, they sat down on the pavement and began a game of what I would’ve called “Drop the Handkerchief” in my day.
The kids were having a ball ... and they were all behaving and paying attention. Nobody was being made fun of because he might run a little slower or didn’t get the handkerchief.
This teacher was doing it right, and she wasn’t embarrassing any kids in the process.
Editor’s note: Donna Carman is the editor of The Casey County News in Liberty.