Monday, May 24, 2010

Sometimes It Pays To Be Explicit

At the top of this page there is a statement that declares - "My behaviour in front of relievers needs to improve." Below this statement is another that declares - "I must not slap other children." - Let me explain:

Today I went relief teaching in a local primary school. This piece of paper was blue tacked onto the whiteboard in the staff room. The paper had its genesis as a result of an altercation the previous day. A child had slapped another child during class time when a relieving teacher had been in the room. The child was sent to the Principal. The child was given a piece of paper by the Principal who said - " Your behaviour in front of relievers needs to improve!! I have written down here on this paper exactly what you must not do in future!! Now write me a page of lines!!

That's exactly what the obedient child did. He wrote a page of lines - and personally I can't fault them. There has been no attempt to avoid the punishment. Every horizontal line on the page is filled with little vertical lines.They are reasonably straight lines, well spaced and legible. One could not mistake them for anything other than..... well....... lines.

Meaning is implicit as well as explicit. Sometimes it pays to be very explicit indeed.

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18 comments:

Reading Rachel said...

Hahaha that is too funny. Hope the poor kid didn't get in any more trouble for it. He just did as he was told.

Delwyn said...

delightful Alden


I am always spelling things out for Jim...

Happy days

Ben Bongers said...

I like this. Apparently he/she fulfilled the assignment to avoid trouble, but expressed the uselessness of lines. Very creative and obstinate, is what I see in it.
Are this the modern psychology teaching methods of NZ?

Alden Smith said...

Rachel. Welcome to my Blogspot. I was so fascinated by what the boy produced I didn't enquire into his age or what the repercussions were (I doubt if there were any, everyone thought it was very very funny indeed. I am relief teaching there tomorrow so I will find the answer to both those questions.

Alden Smith said...

Yes Delwyn, I bet Jim is so very grateful to you for that.

Alden Smith said...

Ben, as I said to Rachel, whether he was being creatively obstinate or really took the instructions very literally I will find out tomorrow by asking a few more questions - this story is obviously going to have a Coda added to it.

"Are this the modern psychology teaching methods of NZ?" - Ah now Ben, I need to see the look on your face (frown, smile, whimsy, laughter) when you say that, so that I can guage how to pitch my answer!

Of course some Principals (and teachers) can't even spell the word psychology and think that pedagogy is a bicycle accessory.

Katherine said...

Pedagogy - isn't it that little doohicky that measures the justifiability of the solanny in being able to carry out the day-to-day gearing bexin?

Alden Smith said...

Yep, you've got it Katherine. There is nothing quite as relaxing as taking a can of Pedagogy and Pedagogilizing a couple of dozen gearing bexins - of course you have to check regularly with a bozzledipmeter and orientate the bexins with the earths angular plastondence coefficient but if make sure you tweak the trigraglomatrone every 5.498 minutes then Mables your aunty and you are home and hosed - pah! Pedagogilizing! after a while you can do it with one hand while the rest of your body enjoys a Zumba lesson.

Dan Gurney said...

Maybe it's because I teach kindergarten, but I didn't see any obstinacy in his effort.

I saw a little guy who didn't know what "a page of lines" meant. What he produced would require similar effort and have similar meaning to what the principal had asked of him.

Alden Smith said...

Dan, you are right there was no obstinacy in this - I enquired today and found out the child was only six years old - when the little fellow gave the 'lines' to the Principal, the Principal (someone I know very well who has a great sense of humour) had a hard time stopping himself from bursting out laughing!

Ben Bongers said...

Hi Alden,
To answer your question: I had a great smile when I was writing. But off course you knew that.
For the page of lines: another proof that I all too often see what I want to see. As for stories go, I will apply my philosophy that you should not spoil a good story with the truth. Although at this story I am not sure which one is better, the truth or my interpretation.
Looking at the handwriting at the bottom more closely and knowing now his age is 6 years, a page of regular writing would have been a terrible job.
God bless relievers.

Alden Smith said...

Ben, I think we all see what we want to see especially if our interpretation is in our best interests - or we can see other possiblities sometimes if we want to as per - Edward De Bono and lateral thinking.
Sometimes situations are simply ambiguous. I think a good visual metaphor for all of this is that well known picture where at first you see a candle, then two face profiles looking at each other - and our attention osillates between the two.

Janice said...

That poor little fellow will probably never do anything naughty again, after the profound tedium of making all those lines on the page. Whoever thought up lines as punishment was diabolical indeed, albeit not very creatively.

Alden Smith said...

Janice, who knows where this formative experience may lead him. He may become an invaluable asset to a road marking company as he accurately paints millions of lines down the centre line of the nations highways.

Every cloud has a silver "lining".

I'm Lisa J......And I just gotta say... said...

Do what say....say what you mean....And always speak clearly both audibly and in content!

Alden Smith said...

Yes Lisa I can't argue with that piece of advice at all and I couldn't agree more.

Susanna Originals said...

That was a cute story and I'm happy the principal had a sense of humour. Glad I found your blog.
Susan

Alden Smith said...

Thankyou for your comment Susanna. I enjoyed viewing your own interesting blog.