Thursday, January 29, 2009

High School Topic: Reprimanding Students

10-second review: Editor of English Journal recounts a memorable moment in her career.

Title: “From the Editor.” Louann Reid. English Journal (July 2008), 11-13. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: While her class was engaged in another activity, she heard two male students call across the room to each other the words “fag” and “gay.” The second time they used these words, inappropriate for the class’s activity, she stood up and said, “You will not use those words again in this classroom.” She elaborated by saying that words hurt, and she told about a friend of hers who was dying of AIDS whose fear of these words made him unwilling to reveal his sexual orientation. At the end of her speech, the rest of the students clapped. And she wonders why.

Comment: I’m inclined to criticize the editor for her self-righteous behavior. But I’ve done the same thing. My disagreement with what she did comes from my experience. Words do hurt. And I learned long ago as a teacher not ever to reprimand students in public. They will resent it and they will never forget it. And who knows where their resentment will lead. RayS.

1 comment:

  1. I know what you're saying, Ray. It's tough to know what should be public and what should not. Reprimanding students in public can, indeed, crate a more negative atmosphere. In fact, I hadn't done anything like what I described before. However, I thought this instance warranted it--after all the language they were using was public so commentary on it could be, I hoped--and fortunately the students understood it the same way. What I didn't write in the editorial was that even the students I had reprimanded, the ones who were using the language, applauded. Thank you for noticing this editorial and for commenting on it. I always appreciate dialogue more than monologue.