I just had the best conversation with my son while dropping him off to school. A conversation that I wished someone had had with me when I was a kid.
Rewind: When I was in about the 4th or 5th grade I had a language arts teacher named Ms. Fiaño. (I will not spare her the dignity of anonimity.) Ms. Fiaño had the old iron sides approach to education; “spare the humiliation spoil the child” was her way. One day while I was busy being a chatty 4th grader with other chatty 4th graders, Ms. Fiaño decided it was time for someone to pay the price for disrupting her lesson on dangling participles (or whatever the hell she was teaching that day.) She turned to me and said something like “Stacey, maybe if you could get your mouth shut you wouldn’t have gotten a 56 on the last test.”
Stone silence. All eyes on me.
I was mortified. This would not be the only belittlement I would suffer in her class, and I’m almost 100% sure that I wasn’t the only one but dammit this is my blog and we’re going to talk about me!
The point is her battle axy approach to discipline did nothing but further isolate me from her and any desire to learn what she was teaching. No, I shouldn’t have been talking in her class, but that didn’t give her license to humiliate me. Contrary to popular belief, humiliation isn’t always the best teacher. I’ve used the tactic myself in parenting, and now I find myself back peddling trying to convince my son that I don’t think he’s a total idiot. Sigh. At least I finally got it, right? Zi, if you’re reading this at some point in the future, I’m sorry. You rock. Always have. Always will. The world is yours. Go get it!
Fast Forward: My son has found himself in the position of having to deal with humiliation imposed by educators. While I plan on dealing with it, because as a parent it’s part of my job to protect him, I also told him what I wish someone had told me. You have a right to stand up for yourself. It doesn’t require disrespect or confrontation, but it does reinforce in you that you are a person worthy of respect when respect is given.
I think I planted a seed today. I think.