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MOTM June 2015
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4,388 Posts
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Like many I have my share of unpleasant grade school memories. Mostly due to students, but one of my worst memories stems from my first grade teacher. I don't remember much about most of my teacher's, but I will never forget her.

Each day I eagerly anticipated the recess bell when we could get out of our seats and play. It didn't take me long to learn what the bell meant. When you heard it you knew that you had better move quickly, or you wouldn't get a good game. So as soon as the bell rang, I knew I needed to jump out of my chair and rush to the game shelves. Those who snoozed lost out!

There is one day I will never forget. To some what happened might not be any big deal, but to me it was huge. I was extremely conscientious, and it was not my practice to break rules just for the sake of breaking them.

The recess bell rang and like a normal day, I jumped up from my desk and made a bee line for the toys. I suddenly realized there wasn't any competition. I looked around and everyone was still sitting at their desk. I thought back and remembered that the teacher had said today, when the bell rings I don't want you to get up like you normally do, I want you to remain in your seat. As soon as I remembered this I tried to hurry back to my seat before the teacher noticed. It was too late, she had noticed.

I disobeyed (although not intentionally) and realize that most teachers are likely to deal out some sort of punishment. However, I believe the punishment should fit the crime. What was I guilty of? I was guilty of forgetting. I was not guilty of willful disobedience. I was just a 6 year old who forgot!

I can see making a 6 year old sit at their desk for the first 5 minutes of recess, or maybe even making them sit for the duration of recess. What I can't see is paddling them for making a mistake(for forgetting). Worse still, bending me over her knee and paddling me in front of the entire class as they snickered and giggled. I have never felt so ashamed. I remember hiding my face as much as possible from the other kids for the rest of the day. Every day that I had to go to this class, I relived the shame and humiliation. Was that your goal dear first grade teacher?

I was no stranger to corporal punishment, but I wasn't use to an audience of snickering and giggling students watching. I learned to hate school, and associated it with shame, ridicule and other unpleasantness. For as long as I can remember, I've had issues with those in authority. I tend to view them with suspicion and to suspect that they will abuse their power if given the opportunity. Although you are not the only factor dear first grade teacher, you definitely played a part in shaping these perspectives.

I learned to hide when I was hurt or had made a mistake. I learned to put on a tough exterior so as to deprive anyone of the knowledge that they had the power to hurt me. I learned to feel a great deal of shame and to beat myself up for mistakes. Thank you again dear first grade teacher for your part in this.

The thing that really confuses about this, the teacher had already talked to my mom about the fact that I was very shy and withdrawn. Said she wanted to help bring me out of it. Was this part of the plan?

Parents, guardians and teachers, please make sure the punishment fits the crime. Do remember that you have the ability to help shape how they view themselves, others, and those in positions of authority. I forgave the teacher who wronged me because I realize there is nothing to gain by continuing to carry a grudge. However, as much as I might want to I have never forgotten this teacher or that terrible day.
 
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