Regarding my earlier post (found here), I can finally further my opinion of the situation without resorting to George Carlin’s Seven Words, typed over and over, until i die of starvation.
I’ve mentioned here several times that it’s theorized by a few health professionals that I’ve talked to that I have a mild form of Asperger’s. This is based on my own recollection of my childhood behavior, as well as my behavior and reaction to situations now.
When I was in kindergarten, my teacher seemed to hate me, and my classmates seemed to hate me, and I couldn’t figure out why. I was terrified of going to school some mornings, and having to interact with those…creatures. I knew I was different, but so were they – why was I the one getting picked on all the time? It’s not like I was mean to anyone.
And the teacher – hoo boy. She was a piece of work. Now that I think back on it from an adult’s perspective, I can’t imagine that she had it easy, teaching a bunch of five-year-olds, none of which were on medication from an over-eager doctor/parent for ADD or ADHD. Most of us were just hyper-active, and it was accepted that that’s how kids are supposed to be. But she wasn’t happy about it, and if we acted out on HER time, we were punished.
I spent several hours with my nose in a circle on the chalkboard one day. I don’t remember why. I was there through recess, with no teacher supervision (I wonder about this now – if my memory is really correct, or if she did, in fact, leave me alone in the classroom for the 40-minute recess period…time and time again, I come to the conclusion that she did, and that disturbs me), and then through our spelling period. While I was there, I remember having things thrown at me by the other kids, but there was nothing I could do about it, and she didn’t stop it. She didn’t encourage it, either, so I guess I should be thankful for that little bit, eh?
She almost never asked me to help her with things, because I would get so unreasonably excited when I was asked to help (I’m telling you, I really didn’t understand why no one liked me, so any good attention sent me over the moon) that I would invariably break something in my eagerness, like a puppy running around wagging its tail and knocking things off of a table, and would inevitably be sent back to my seat to put my head down for an hour and “calm down, child!”
First grade was better – my teacher was just NICE. I don’t remember much about first grade, and my brain has a tendency to dwell more on the bad (to use as learning experiences, I guess) than the good, so I take that as a good sign that I barely remember that year, except that I got unreasonably excited, once again, whenever I would help the teacher. And when we talked about trains. Heh.
Second grade was hell. This is where my explanation will end, but I felt it important to lay out the fact that I’ve always, in public school, had issues with the other students and with certain teachers.
I had an oral fixation – I still sucked my thumb when I was 7, and during school, because I knew I would get made fun of if I did it in class, I would resort to chewing paper or on my pencils instead. Also, the feel of chomping wood between my teeth was really cool to me. Anyway, I got called out a LOT on that one, and my teacher started referring to me as “The Goat”. She encouraged the other students to call me that, too, and told them never to lend me pencils or anything, lest I chew them up.
My babysitter used to call me “Bonnica”, because both of my sisters have names that end with “-ca”, and I felt left out. It was a nickname, and by my line of reasoning, asking to be called Bonnica at school was just like someone named Michael asking to be called Mike. Simple, yes? I still feel that way.
Well, because I got in trouble so much, calls home were frequent. The first call, about a month into the school year, resulted in my dad informing the teacher that my name was NOT Bonnica, but simply Bonnie. I remember every detail about her coming into the classroom after that call – she stood at the front of the classroom and yelled at me, once again, for chewing on a pencil (which I was doing at the time, because I was nervous). Then she said, “By the way, missy, I called your father earlier, and he informed me that you lied to me about your name. It’s BONNIE, isn’t it? Not Bonnica.” Then she looked around the classroom at the other kids, smiling, and said something to the effect of, “Now I guess we all need to remember that we have a little liar in this classroom, don’t we?” I don’t remember the exact wording, because at that point I’d buried my head in my arms to keep everyone from seeing me cry.
That was when I started faking stomach-aches, taking advantage of my higher-than-average body temperature to get me out of school. I missed nearly half the year until someone caught on to what I was doing and informed my teacher. Then one day, when I was ACTUALLY sick, she didn’t let me out of the classroom, because she assumed I was faking. I mean, yes, that was my fault for lying so much, but I didn’t know what else to do. I had no one to talk to, and the adult that I was around the most often in my life turned out to be a horrible person. I made my first F in school that year, because I wanted to be anywhere from there, and just didn’t care about anything that happened while I was at school except being as invisible as possible. (I was also bored out of my mind, which led to me being tested and sent into the advanced program, which I’ve written about before, but that’s a different story altogether.)
She didn’t call me up in front of the classroom and go around the room to invite my classmates to make fun of me, but her actions so early on in the school year told my classmates that since the adult didn’t like me, it was okay for them to express every little thing they hated about me – and this they did eagerly, both verbally and physically. I can’t tell you how many walls I was “accidentally” pushed into on my way to the water fountain and the pencil sharpener. I wanted to sit in the back row, not to goof off, but to avoid having someone sitting behind me who would end up “accidentally” shoving their book into my back, or “accidentally” pull my hair or throw spit wads at me. Unfortunately, my last name begins with a letter toward the beginning of the alphabet, so I was always relegated to the first or second row.
And these people who were in class with me in kindergarten and second grade? Were the worst offenders for the rest of my public school experience – all the way through my senior year – of making fun of me and treating me like dirt.
Because they were taught to do so by the teacher at an age where mimicry is how they learned how to act in certain situations.
So you see, taking Wendy Portillo out is a good start – and interpret “taking her out” to mean what you want (heh) – but we have to consider that the kids? Are going to remember this and think it’s the right thing to do because the adult told them to do it.
They need to be told, somehow, that this isn’t how you treat people who are different just because they irritate you.
Likely, they’ll continue through school thinking that it’s okay to treat this one student, Alex Barton, as an inferior whipping boy, because they were taught in their FIRST YEAR of public school that this behavior was acceptable. Even parental intervention doesn’t always help – one of my frequent tormenter’s moms was a Room Mother, and she saw her daughter giving me a hard time one day – she took the girl aside and told her to stop it, that it wasn’t nice, etc, etc. This girl continued to tease me…she just waited until no one else was around. I ended up getting into a physical fight with her when I was 13 because I let my guard down in the girl’s bathroom, and we were the only two in there. *I* got in trouble for defending myself, because she had gone around bragging to her friends about kicking my ass in the bathroom – because she was the one who got the word around to everyone first, my story was considered secondary (this is an important lesson for self-defense, folks – if you have to defend yourself, make sure the authorities, whomever they are, hear YOU first, because they will instinctively latch on to the first story they hear as gospel).
The responsibility of a teacher is HUGE – they’re not only instilling information into young minds, but they’re having to measure their own behavior and activity for these little sponges, because most kids pick up on mannerisms and behavior a lot more easily than they do the things being spouted to them from a book.
In a perfect world, teachers like Wendy Portillo wouldn’t have made it into the classroom. Unfortunately, the pay scale for a teacher prevents the folks who might actually be emotionally AND mentally qualified from the job from wanting it, because they know that their abilities would be more greatly rewarded elsewhere.
Until that’s remedied, and until the government gets its stinky little mitts off of education (if you disagree with that statement that government is contributing to the downfall of public education, just remember that they can’t even run a brothel successfully – if you can’t sell sex, you can’t sell anything), we’ll likely hear stories like this more and more frequently as the standards for teaching become like the expectations of our degrees – so low they’re snorting dirt.
And until that point, if I sprout any crotch fruit (thanks, Robb, for the disgusting moniker for kids!), he/she is being home-schooled. Truly bad teachers are few, and are the only ones who make the headlines, but that’s not a risk I’m willing to take.
EDIT: From The Lone Libertarian via email, I received this link to a video interview of Alex’s mother. I’ll refrain from stating a few things, but there’s a similarity between this teacher and the ones that treated me so badly, and I know quite a few other folks who’ve noted this similarity in their bad teachers in elementary school. Take what you will from that statement. I make no apologies for my opinion.