Greetings, Dear Reader! Welcome to The Keyboard Commentarian, my new blog page! By means of brief introduction, no, I do not think I bring anything necessarily unique to the blogosphere, save for my own voice. I just thought it would be cool to have a place to air my opinions, to praise or to vent, to get things off my chest, etc. While not a daily blog, each new entry will be headlined with a Word of the Day or a Phrase of the Day. (As you can see, today's entry is a Phrase of the Day, and that phrase is Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right.)
I recently became aware of a story out of Texas in which a teacher at a University City elementary school addressed the issue of bullying. The school is Salinas Elementary School, located within the Judson Independent School District, near San Antonio. Specifically, the teacher's action was in response to one student. Apparently, the student, Aiden, was known to be a bully, but the school never bothered to notify his mother that there was ever any problem. (In my book, if there's a bully, then there's a problem.) The teacher took matters into her own hands.
Actually, she put the matter into Aiden's classmates' hands...
The teacher thought it was appropriate to have Aiden's classmates line up and hit him one at a time. The school claims that seven or eight children had hit Aiden; his mother says it was more like all twenty-four classmates, some (or all) hitting him more than once...some being told to do so even though they did not want to. Here's an article about this story: Related story
The incident took place in May and Aiden's mother is now speaking out publicly, even filing charges with the local police. It is easy to say that her wish to have that teacher's certificate revoked is harsh in these extremely difficult economic times. (Believe me, I know, first hand, how hard these times are!) However, to allow her to continue in the capacity of a teacher is giving her the opportunity to repeat this behavior, not to mention sending a subliminal message that what she did was appropriate.
When one student stands up to another, provided the bullied student doesn't retaliate in a manner even more violent than the bully's actions, we call that comeuppance and we are glad to see the bullied student standing up for him/herself. One need look no further than literature, movies, television, and even YouTube to see examples of such. What that Salinas Elementary School teacher did was, in my opinion, orchestrated child abuse.
There's an even larger issue in play here, and maybe it's easier to see with all of the press bullying has received in that past several years. The phrase that comes to mind is "Violence begets violence." There's a mention of the idea in the Bible: "Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, 'Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.'" [Matthew 26:51-52; NRSV] (This also gives rise to the adage: Whoever lives by the sword, dies by the sword.) In 1958, speaking about the racial divide in this country, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love."
More to my point, the teacher is teaching the value of violence. Not the idea of self-defense -- being violent in response to being violated can be valuable in saving your life -- which six-year-olds probably wouldn't grasp fully anyway, but the idea that the appropriate response to violence is...more violence. It also teaches -- although this, too, might miss the mark with the children -- the idea of gang warfare...just overpower someone by sheer numbers, imbalanced numbers, and you are in the right. How being outnumbered 24:1 is correct, fair, just, and warranted, quite frankly, escapes me.
Isn't that also one of the tenets of warfare?
Maybe Aiden is a bully; his mother says he's not. We do not know if that's a mother simply sticking up for her child (oblivious to reality or not) or if Aiden is, indeed, not a bully. If he is, then there are far better ways for this teacher (and, for that matter, his mother and the school in general) to have dealt with that. As I said, I do not want to see anyone lose their job just for the sake of losing their job. If, however, she is allowed to continue to teach, then what will be said if this happens again? That's what needs to be weighed in this situation.
The teacher probably saw bullying as wrong. If so, I could not agree more! What the teacher did to deal with the issue was also wrong. In this instance, as is usually the case, two wrongs don't make a right.