Sunday, May 11, 2008

Stuff it, Jean Piaget

Here's an excerpt of an online conversation I had with a friend who's a sixth grade math teacher about the recent trend of edgy behavior among our students, likely due to spring fever:
Teacher Friend: everyone is so crazy
are your students horrible?
me: uh, I had a 6-year-old threaten me with a scissors today after repeatedly pretending to jab himself in his private parts with a pencil...so that's a "yes."
Teacher Friend: uh
you win

I wanted to say, "I always win"...but I refrained.

In short order, that incident is exactly why I've come to believe that college teacher preparation programs leave new teachers woefully unprepared for the reality of teaching. Because -- at least in my college teacher preparation program -- we talked about, like, Piaget and his four stages of development, but we never talked about what to do when a 6-year-old holds a scissors up to his face and pretends to cut his mouth open, throwing the rest of his sweet, well-intentioned classmates into a blind panic while even the second biggest behavior problem among them urged everyone else to "get all the scissors off the tables!" and the most level-headed little girl in the class responded, "No, we love you very much" when the threatening student rhetorically asked his classmates: "Don't you want me to die?"

He is the second student under the age of 8 to have talked in my classroom about wanting to kill himself. He is the third or fourth or fifth student, I've lost count, under the age of 8 to have talked in my classroom about wanting to kill his classmates. He is not the first of my students to respond to a teacher's request with a defiant "Make me" or "I don't care." He will probably not be the last of my students to deliberately destroy a teacher's property while I look on and try (a) sweet, rational, polite and warm reasoning, (b) eerily and icily calm commands and (c) mind-blowing, earth-shaking, fear-tactic yelling and find them all ineffective.

He is, however, the first of my students to request that fellow 6-year-old classmates "kiss my buttocks" and the first to proclaim loudly that he is a "sexy baby" in the middle of storytime.

What, I wonder, would Piaget have to say about that?

2 comments:

Betty said...

Piaget would probably have words of wisdom similar to Yoda. They wouldn't make a lot of sense in the real world of teaching.

ms. v. said...

Dunno what Piaget would say, but I would say that you should check in with a school counselor or administrator or someone about the possibility of sexual abuse in this kid's life. I mean, who knows, but acting out in this way plus those particular phrases? Might be reportable.