Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home

[Susan notes: I am very glad that the New York Times published this letter, putting the responsibility with the teacher. As we saw, a dangerous situation is created when outsiders who aren't trained to deal with students are called in as enforcers.

In the strangeness category, I tried to post a comment about teacher responsibility on the Times website and they rejected it,while posting really ugly things.

Go figure.]

Published in New York Times

To the editor

Re Toppled Desk Points to Race and Discipline (front page, Oct. 28):

As a teacher and a principal for more than 45 years, I had a policy of avoiding classroom confrontations if at all possible.

The problem in many instances of student misbehavior is that adolescents value "saving face" in the presence of their peers above everything else. Some will even risk injury rather than appear weak when there is an audience.

In the scene that erupted in a South Carolina high school, we can't know why a girl, who other students said "was usually quiet and not a troublemaker," refused to leave the classroom when told to do so.

But things would have ended better if the teacher had told her quietly to stay and talk about the situation after class, and then set an appropriate consequence for her misbehavior.

Joanne Yatvin

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.