Sylvia's writing to freedom

The teacher on a pedestal 06/12/2010

After a week sick at home my daughter A. went to school again today. She had been within a trifle with one of her teachers and today it was the first day she saw him again.

A few weeks ago in her design and technology class A. got homework to make a technical drawing with two squares. After trying out possibilities with her squares she tried to look it up in her books. No luck, because it was a topic her new class had already covered last year. She decided to ask the teacher next time.

A. tried to ask the teacher for several weeks about this design problem of hers, but no luck. Than after these weeks of not being able to do the design work and not asking and telling us about it, the teacher found out that she hadn’t done her homework. It wasn’t a refusal from the side of A., but teachers tend to see it that way. Whenever a pupil doesn’t do her homework, it’s simply a matter of refusal and being “wrong”.

The whole issue why A. wasn’t been able to ask the teacher about it, was the following. Pupils are only allowed to speak within his class when it is their turn according to the alphabetic surname list. A. is listed under the V, so it took a while before it was her turn. When it’s your turn, you are also allowed to ask other questions. How does one come up with such a method/strategy? Is common sense still existing here?

The teacher was quite pissed with A. and wrote a note in her special communication book to inform us parents that A. hadn’t done her design homework for a while. A. was speechless, she couldn’t understand what she had done wrong. She felt like the victim of his inflexible teaching methods, what made her incapable to direct herself. Even if she was able to respond she wasn’t allowed to speak within the classroom towards this teacher.

Later that morning during the break A. saw this teacher in the hallway and figured, now I’m able to speak to him. The hallway is neutral space so I’m allowed to speak. She explained him that her former teacher never had covered this topic at her old school and asked him to explain it to her. She wasn’t sure if he had understood her.

At home she finally told us the whole story, she had to because we had to sign the note in the special communication book. We had no idea about the teaching methods of this teacher. So sad, a middle aged man that needs to feel more than his 13 year old pupils. I heard also my son J. complaining, but A. is more the one that gets into conflicts. The kids had even made up a nickname for him at home. They pronounced his Italian surname in Dutch and than you get: weird egg. So through spitefulness they tried to handle this feeling of inequality, which is hard to struggle with for kids when it involves adults.

I asked A. why she hadn’t asked her classmates for help. She said: “We are not allowed to speak, the break is ten minutes to eat a snack. There is just not enough free space to ask this”. A second disadvantage is us not living in the city where the kids go to school. So it’s not easy to meet up after school.

My partner P. signed the note of the teacher, but wrote first a response. He wrote: “A. explained to us that she hasn’t been able to make her design homework due to lack of material and understanding. Last year her teacher didn’t cover this topic. A. has been asking you to explain this topic”. When today the teacher read the note he almost choked. He refused to believe that A. really didn’t know how to draw these designs. Than he told A. that parents weren’t allowed to speak to him in this manner. He told A. that he’s counting on our appearance in January/February when there are parent interviews. We will be there, he can count on us. We will explain and answer his questions in equality, no need for superiority from his/our side.

Today the teacher explained the whole designing issue with the two squares to the whole class. In case the others were forgotten how to do it…


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