Kid vs teacher, whose side to take

<p>My mom was one of those moms that would usually believe me in high school when I told her that one of my teachers was incompetent, not well versed in their subject, or inequitable in their disciplinary procedures. I also know parents though that would side with the teacher under any circumstance.</p>

<p>What would you do if a teacher sent you this:</p>

<p><a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Wow, is that for real?</p>

<p>If a teacher sent that to me, I'd take it to the principal and the school board, and maybe the local newspaper, too.</p>

<p>Son's side if it is something like that.</p>

<p>I would discipline my student for being rude to that incompetent teacher, and I would support my student by showing the note to the principal, school board and whomever would be in a position to get that obviously incompetent teacher on the right track or fired.</p>

<p>While the student was correct in the facts, the student's rudeness was uncalled for. There are far better ways of addressing incompetence.</p>

<p>One of my S's had an incompetent teacher, so incompetent that a normally mild mannered student verbally went off on the teacher in class (and got suspended), and a student who pulled an 800 SAT in the teacher's subject matter got an "F" in the teacher's class because the student refused to do absolutely meaningless homework or take tests that were stupid.</p>

<p>I am proud to say that my S let me know what was going on, and I was able to politely do what was necessary to get the teacher removed. My S also did his best to keep the student who went off in class from doing so, and my S tried to encourage the student who ended up getting the "F" to use other methods to show his displeasure with the teacher.</p>

<p>One is bound to encounter incompetence in life, and it's important to know how to address it. Publicly embarrassing the incompetent and publicly rallying people around the person is stupid when one is in a subordinate position (and may even be stupid if one is in a supervisory position). That can get you shunned and fired. There are far more effective ways to address incompetence.</p>

<p>My reaction, too. Is it for real?
The teacher realizes that he, not the student, was wrong, but still expects that in future the student will accept his authority without demur? Is the teacher's middle name Stalin, Mao or Hitler by any chance?</p>

<p>EDIT: In response to NSM, it appears that the student escalated in rudeness in response to the teacher's obduracy. I personally think the teacher, rather than the student, was way out of line. He should not be teaching any one. My kids learned the metric system in 1st grade, for heaven's sake!</p>

<p>My son had a chemistry teacher who provided a statistical formula to be used to analyze laboratory results in the lab report writeups that was absolutely wrong. It was not just a minor error, but the whole conceptual basis of the formula was wrong. My son realized that the forumula could not possibly be correct, as it made no logical sense. He looked up the formula and found the correct information. When he showed it to the teacher, the teacher just said angrily, "I want it done MY WAY." I don't know if he was threatened by someone with better understanding than him, or what. Neither my son nor we pursued the issue, but we lost all respect for that teacher. My daughter had the same teacher three years later, and he was still using the same incorrect formulas in his laboratory instructions.</p>

I think that you and your S should have pursued that matter. You, especially should have, IMO, because it's simply not right that a teacher be allowed to miseducate students. As a result, your D also had to have an incompetent teacher.</p>

<p>In addition, who knows what other incorrect things the teacher was teaching? It's fortunate that your S was able to identify one thing, but it's likely that the teacher conveyed far more info that was wrong.</p>

<p>I think this should serve as an impetus for a family discussion on how to handle other people's mistakes without being rude -- a very sophisticated challenge, especially when the person who has made the blooper is in a position of authority. I suspect that you and your spouse -- and perhaps even your child's brothers and sisters -- have been faced with similar situations and have handled them with varying degrees of success. It would be interesting to talk about what worked and what didn't.</p>

<p>I would also be tempted to show the letter to the PTA president and see what happens.</p>

I would discipline my student for being rude to that incompetent teacher, and I would support my student by showing the note to the principal, school board and whomever would be in a position to get that obviously incompetent teacher on the right track or fired.</p>

<p>While the student was correct in the facts, the student's rudeness was uncalled for. There are far better ways of addressing incompetence.

I agree. Though I'm sure the student felt at his wit's end, there are better ways he could have dealt with the situation. Trying to rally other students as a group against a teacher during class time is highly inappropriate, as would be shouting at the teacher or calling him names (not sure if this was done here).</p>

<p>You are right, Northstarmom. Looking back, I regret that we didn't pursue it. I also regret I didn't pursue some other things with at least one other teacher my kids had. It is not a valid excuse, but there were few if any other parents of our kids' classmates who seemed to be interested in or be aware of what their kids were studying. The culture of our high school does not include parents interacting with the teachers in regard to the material being taught in classs. At the time, I felt that I would have seemed weird or inappropriate for going to the teacher with my concerns about his incorrect formula, but I realize now that I should have. </p>

<p>Here are a few other incidents involving my involvement, or lack thereof, that happened in our high school (although they do not involve subject matter, so they are not exactly the same as what is being discussed here.) </p>

<p>In ninth grade social studies, the class did a simulation of international relations in teams - it was a very big deal and went on for weeks. The teacher allowed the kids to use very vulgar and inappropriate names (sex and drug related) for their teams, and I still regret that I did not complain about that. I saw a paper which was handed out on which he had typed up the names, so he was definitely aware of them. He was a very popular teacher and he was famous for these wonderful simulations that all the kids just loved. (Actually, they were very good except for that one thing.) The man had a very big ego, and I feared he would be vindictive to my kids if I complained. I am still upset to think that these kids learned from him that it is appropriate to use this type of language for fun in a classroom setting.</p>

<p>Another time, I happened to run into my son's very egotistical English teacher while he was watching an athletic event that my son was part of. To be pleasant, I thanked him for coming to watch the kids and told him my son had been enjoying the class and was working very hard on his essays. A few days later, he told the class that "John's mother (not his real name) is probably writing his essays for him because she knows everything that goes on in this class." From then on, I avoided that man at all costs.</p>

<p>Finally, my son's athletic coach (a well meaning but kind of clueless older man) had a young adult "volunteer" from the high school branch of the Campus Crusade for Christ working with the kids at practice and leading prayers before competitions. A flyer was distributed by a parent of a teammate who had graduated inviting the team to a "pasta dinner" sponsored by this organization, where students were to have fun activities as well as learn more about the religious teachings of this group. This is a public school with students of many faiths, and I felt that this was totally inappropriate. When I found out, I called the athletic director of the school to complain. She is a no-nonsense, drill sergeant type person and she called the coach down to her office immediately and told him to put a stop to it. Of course, the coach told the kids that Mr. So and So, whom everyone liked, couldn't work with the team anymore because someone's mother had complained. My son figured out it was me who had complained, and thought that others did too, and was embarrassed, but at least I knew I did the right thing in that case.</p>

<p>I still stand up for the kid. The kid was a kid; one expects kids to be immature and cut them some slack. In this case it was the teacher who was even more immature. The teacher alleged that the kid defied him "numerous time." What was he trying to teach? How to be a good German soldier? I could wish that the kid in the story had complained to his parents and the parents had in turn complained to the powers-that-be. For all sorts of reasons, both ignorance and misuse of authority, the teacher should have been fired. But the kid was a kid, and the teacher was a bully and an ignoramus. </p>

<p>When one of my sons' teachers proved to be inadequate, I complained in writing. Later on, other parents thanked me for speaking up and having the teacher transferred. I had to wonder why they did not speak up. More spine and less docility benefits all kids, not just one's own.</p>

<p>S2 kept complaining about a skit the class was expected to perform. The teacher had written the script; the students complained that as written, the skit made them sound totally stupid and ignorant. For days and weeks, S2 complained at home, claiming that the teacher was deaf to any criticism of her script. I finally had enough and told him to address his complaints to the teacher in writing (politely). He did. Before handing his letter to the teacher, S showed it to classmates. Half the class decided to sign on, which he had not anticipated. When shown the petition, the teacher excused those who had signed it from performing in the skit (claiming that she'd never heard them complain about it before!). The others had to go on with it and were very regretful they had held back!</p>

<p>Yes, the kid acted like a kid, but that doesn't mean his behavior should be completely ignored. Shouldn't parents speak to children about their inappropriate behavior and then suggest better ways of coping or acting? It's normal for a little kid to throw a temper tantrum in the grocery store, too, but it doesn't mean the parents should just let them happen.</p>

<p>No, I agree that the parents should give a good talking to to their kid. But this was not an unjustified temper tantrum by a kid deprived of his favorite candy. It was a kid whose teacher pulled rank on him in order to defend an unjustifiable ignorance multiple times. I doubt the student called the teacher a liar the first time the teacher claimed that a km is longer than a mile. It took repeated assertions on the part of the teacher to provoke a kid.</p>

<p>It would have been so easy for the teacher to model proper behavior when challenged on a point of information. "Okay, let's look it up, shall we? Ah, I see I made a mistake. Good job you caught it." No, the teacher acted like Hitler in the classroom.
I would have cautioned my kid against calling people liars, but I would have hauled the teacher in front of every possible level of authority and disclosed the contents of that letter to the media. "Le ridicule tue" (ridcule kills) as Charlie Chaplin showed in his wonderful movie, The Great Dictator.</p>

<p>Although I agree that the student sounded rude (according to the teacher's account), the teacher was unprofessional and delivered a terrible lesson. </p>

<p>In my humble opinion, one of the most important things to learn is that no one knows everything, that is it is ok to have gaps in one's knowledge and it is especially important to seek to fill those gaps and to admit when one got it wrong. Think of all the horrible things that have happened in this world when folks from engineers to presidents did not admit when they needed to learn more or to reverse course.</p>

<p>That letter has gotten quite a bit of attention on the Internet. I know I've seen it on some of the social bookmarking sites. </p>

<p>A teacher getting in a power struggle with a student doesn't do any good to anyone really; if anyone "wins" in a situation like that, it's the student.</p>

<p>ETA: Snopes has this one listed as "Undetermined."
<a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Here's what seems to be the first mention, from a person claiming to be the "Alex" in the letter:
<a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>I am a firm believer in a parent letting administration know about harmful actions by a teacher. Too often, parents just go in when they don't like a grade their child receives.</p>

<p>Conyat, You have seen this letter before? Is it real?</p>

<p>I've only seen it online. I have no idea if it's real. I'm a little disappointed in snopes that they didn't email the person claiming to be the student and try to get verification from him. They sometimes do this for other things circulating; I guess for whatever the reason, they decided not to bother in this case and leave it undetermined.</p>

<p>If you go to the snopes link, you'll see the case against it being real. I think the case for it being real is that we've all known teachers we think would do this.</p>

<p>I have no idea if this is a real case or not either, but I can attest to a real case of my own with a second grade teacher insisting there were 52 stars on an American flag, and my son vehemently disagreeing with her. Yes, she called him "rude" as well.</p>

<p>I have other stories of horrible grammar and spelling in weekly "notes" home or in oral presentations, so nothing would surprise me, including the validity of this "note".</p>

<p>One fact that we don't know yet is how old your son was at this time?</p>

<p>In my years as a teacher, it was my experience that the stupider the teacher (and I'm thinking direct correlation to SAT scores, just to be clear here), the more likely they were to get annoyed when a student questioned their knowledge. It seemed that their authority was the main reason they were in the classroom. </p>

<p>For myself, I gave students who caught me in errors bonus points. Minor spelling and grammar errors, one or two points; math errors, a few more; theoretical errors... well, they didn't catch any, but it would have been a lot!</p>