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Thu May 23, 2013, 08:09 PM

Retiring principal: ‘It is harder for us to be nice to kids’ [View all]



When I look back over my notebooks and journals from the past 21 years there are plenty of things I regret. What I do not regret were the times we educators chose to be kind to a kid. The times when we gave a child a second–and then third and fourth chance. The times we decided to let a kid go on a field trip, ignoring some misdeed that might have excluded him from the trip so that a child who had never been further than the county line could see the world writ large. You know the drill.

School should be a place for all sorts of kindnesses. After all, children are forced to attend, with little or no choice over the building, staff, or bus driver they draw. School is one of their first experiences with government, with strangers in close proximity, with authority outside of the family. School should be a place of challenge, but also a place where children are supported to try, and try again. Students should leave us knowing that for this time in their lives they were in the company of people who genuinely liked them and worked in their best interests.

When people ask me about what changes I have seen in the two decades I’ve worked here, I know they expect me to say something about how kids or families or teachers have changed. Wrong. Kids are still interesting, if a bit more docile, and interested in the world around them. Families still want the best they can marshal for their children. And teachers are here because they think they can make a difference.

What has changed is that it is harder for us to be nice to kids. With elevated standards and increased testing, we find ourselves with less leeway with which we can help a child navigate. With ‘zero tolerance’ laws and other Draconian rules, the mistakes some children make can no longer be forgiven. The rapid-fire social media culture means that if we ever err on the side of mercy or charity, it will quickly be seized upon by those who are just looking for us to make a mistake. And the emphasis on punishing schools for things like dropouts makes it that much harder to enroll a student whose residence is just a bit suspect.

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Reply Retiring principal: ‘It is harder for us to be nice to kids’ [View all]
Brickbat May 2013 OP
Ron Green May 2013 #1
Art_from_Ark May 2013 #6
NewJeffCT May 2013 #20
LWolf May 2013 #23
villager May 2013 #27
LWolf May 2013 #28
SunSeeker May 2013 #32
noamnety May 2013 #35
Curmudgeoness May 2013 #36
elleng May 2013 #2
BeyondGeography May 2013 #3
Exultant Democracy May 2013 #8
gopiscrap May 2013 #19
Smarmie Doofus May 2013 #4
world wide wally May 2013 #10
Spike89 May 2013 #24
sulphurdunn May 2013 #43
Spike89 May 2013 #45
MichiganVote May 2013 #5
woo me with science May 2013 #11
BrotherIvan May 2013 #22
MichiganVote May 2013 #30
JEB May 2013 #7
world wide wally May 2013 #9
WinkyDink May 2013 #26
Cybergata May 2013 #39
HiPointDem May 2013 #12
woo me with science May 2013 #13
bbkenn92 May 2013 #42
n2doc May 2013 #14
Brickbat May 2013 #15
xchrom May 2013 #16
Laelth May 2013 #17
BanzaiBonnie May 2013 #18
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CokeMachine May 2013 #25
CrispyQ May 2013 #29
libodem May 2013 #31
PennsylvaniaMatt May 2013 #33
defacto7 May 2013 #34
annabanana May 2013 #37
BlueCheese May 2013 #38
snot May 2013 #40
midnight May 2013 #41
blkmusclmachine May 2013 #44