Open to the floor: did this teacher go too far?
A teacher in the southern Idaho town of Declo is being criticized after she had her fourth-grade students use permanent markers to draw on the faces of children who failed to meet reading goals.
Some parents and Cassia County School District leaders say the punishment given to nine students in Summer Larsen’s class was inappropriate and left the children feeling shamed.
Cindy Hurst told The Times-News that her 10-year-old son came home from school Nov. 5 with his entire face — including his eyelids — scribbled on with green, red and purple markers.
Something that has gotten missed in the discussion: the students chose this. The students were given an option to punish failure or reward successes. And then the were asked to choose the punishment. And then the students whose faces were written on chose to get the writing rather than miss recess.
I have a slightly different take on this than most people. The parents are having kittens about their kids’ fragile little egos being destroyed, even calling this “bullying”. But I put that little detail on how this happened for a reason: this is what happens when you let the inmates run the asylum. The students chose to do this and the students chose to undergo this. This is why you don’t let students run the classroom. You, the teacher, exercise your authority to figure out how students should be rewarded or punished for success or failure. Even if you give the students some liberty, you still have to be a safety valve on anything stupid or humiliating. I had a lot of teachers in elementary and high school who gave us leeway to select projects or term papers. But they always looked over our shoulders to make sure we weren’t wasting our time.