After years as an inveterate curmudgeon and professional ridiculer, I fear I may have developed a sensitive side in spite of myself.
This unexpected aspect of my personality snuck up on me the other day when I read about the schoolgirl in Arizona who frequently didn’t do her homework.
Faced with that situation, her teacher had a number of options. Take the girl aside and point out that homework needs to be done. Call the girl’s mother and bring it to her attention.
Instead, what this professionally trained educator chose to do was: stand in front of the class and present the girl a handmade card that read:
“You’re tops! Catastrophe Award. Awarded to Cassandra Garcia. For most excuses for Not Having Homework.”
The other students laughed. But when the girl took home her “award, “ her mother didn’t laugh. What she did was call the principal to complain. When that gave her no satisfaction, she contacted a local television station and went on camera to talk about her daughter being bullied.
What happened next, of course, was that the story hit the Internet and people posted their comments — 60,798 of them, the last time I checked.
Almost all of the comments sided with the teacher. “What bullying?” one demanded. “Learn to take a joke and do your frickin’ homework.”
“Maybe a little good humored humiliation will get the girl to do her freaking homework!” another declared.
A large percentage of the comments faulted the mother, frequently in racist terms. Several began with variations of “When I was in school ...”
“In high school,” Jen wrote, “I was awarded ‘Most Likely to Sleep in Class.’ I thought it was funny.”
“My son got Most Gullible in high school,” “Coffeemate” related. “We laughed then and laugh now.”
I could relate to those. Teachers frequently embarrassed me, and I deserved it every time. The difference is that I, like those other miscreants, was in high school at the time.
The girl in Arizona is 8 years old.
Too young to get the “joke.” Too young to deal with “good humored humiliation.” Too young to understand anything except that her teacher was making fun of her and all her classmates were laughing at her.
I think any teacher who doesn’t realize that needs to get her head, and maybe her teaching certificate, examined.
Perhaps that just makes me a wimpy child-coddler who doesn’t understand what it’s like to be a teacher, even though I’ve been married to one for 25 years. So if, like all those online commenters, you disagree with me, feel free to fire off an e-mail or a letter expressing your opinion.