My third grade teacher Mrs. Cegar (lovingly called Miss Cigar by the whole class). To say she was evil is a massive understatement.
There are many reasons why I dislike the idea of traditional schooling, but one major reason is because of awesome teachers like this.
Miss Cigar was one in a million!
- She would tell us that if we were her kids she’d beat us. Yes, she really said this. She told us horrible stories of how she did beat her son and that’s why he turned out nicer than us.
- She’d tell us that she liked her dog better than any of us, a point that will become evident if you keep reading.
- During my third grade school year, my mom, a single parent, didn’t have a job because she was a FT college student. Miss Cigar took it upon herself to ask at every possible moment (and in front of anyone), “Dear has your mother found work yet?” She’d say it in just a snide enough manner to make me feel like a welfare case she had taken in out of the cold.
- Reading was always my best subject in school. I loved to read out loud. She knew this and told my mom that all this volunteering to read out loud had to stop. I was no longer allowed to read in front of the class due to the “big head” I was getting.
- She told the entire class “NEVER” to wear seat-belts. She was (supposedly) in some inferno crazed car wreak and not wearing her seat-belt had “SAVED” her life. Okay, I know in some situations that this could happen. But telling a whole class of nine year old kids to quit wearing their seat-belts? Personally, I think she was trying to get rid of some of us.
The Cherry On the Cake…
I swear this really happened: Every week we’d have a “kid of the week”. You know where you get to be the line leader and help pass out papers. But Miss Cigar’s kid of the week had one very extra special duty…
Every day after lunch we had rest time. But not if you were “kid of the week”! If you were this kid she’d hand you a pair of latex gloves and maneuver you out to the hallway. In the hallway sat the garbage cans full of thrown away lunches. She’d “let us” go through the garbage cans and pull out half eaten hot dogs and burgers which we’d throw into a plastic baggie. Miss Cigar would take this baggie home at the end of the day as a treat for her beloved dog.
On Friday “kid of the week” got a piece of candy from the jar on her desk for their trouble.
The worst part was…
As a kid raised in the school system, a system where you, the kid, is always wrong when compared to the teacher, I literally had no conception of how crazy Miss Cigar was until years later. I never even told my mom – I thought being talked down to and going through the trash was a perfectly normal third grade learning experience.
Miss Cigar is not alone.
Miss Cigar may be the worst teacher I ever had but she’s not the only one. I had many bad teachers. Teachers who wouldn’t allow you to go to the restroom. Teachers who made fun of my clothes. More than one teacher who told me I should stick to reading since I was obviously too stupid to get math (PS I later got a college degree in math).
Maybe you can chalk this up to the fact that I attended bad public schools. However, in response to that, I just talked to one 12 year old girl who attends a small, highly rated charter school. This school is supposed to be open, warm and progressive, yet this girl told me about all the issues she has with her teachers. Below are some direct quotes…
- Teachers ignore your problems. I told the teacher that two kids were making up inappropriate sex-minded stuff about me and she told me to quit talking about non-school stuff.
- I’m afraid teachers will change my mind about how I think.
- I’m worried all the time that my teachers will get me in trouble.
- Teachers don’t explain assignments right then get mad when I don’t understand.
- Teachers are usually mean.
- Teachers like to tell you off.
- If I don’t do my work right, the teacher makes me stand in front of the class and tell everyone why I didn’t.
- If I acted like my teachers I’d be sent to the office or get into trouble.
- Teachers don’t ever let stuff go. Once you get in trouble they never let you forget it.
- Teachers snoop in on your conversations, it’s like they’re stalking you, not at home though. Then all the teachers gossip about you behind your back.
- Teachers get upset with you and you get into trouble a lot (this is what she said after I asked her what school is about.)
- If you talk, the teacher says, “Sit in the back of the room.” I say, “But I can’t see back there.” The teacher says, “You should have thought of that before you talked.”
- Most teachers are rude and always mad at me.
- This one teacher I have is so smart. She’s really helped me learn to write but she is also evil. She’s the meanest teacher.
This same girl also told me a lot more, which I’ll save for later. Other kids have told me even worse stuff. The above quotes are very typical quotes I hear from kids in school. Of all the kids I’ve ever interviewed who attend typical schools I can’t think of one who hasn’t said stuff like this.
HOW ARE YOUR KIDS’ TEACHERS DOING?
Something to keep in mind is that I don’t often hear kids just blurt this stuff about teachers out. You HAVE to ask kids what’s going on in school to get straight answers. And there has to be zero consequences, no matter what your child says.
For example, the girl above told me all this stuff openly. When she told her parent that she’d talked back to a teacher though, her parent didn’t ask why, didn’t question the situation, and gave her this response, “You shouldn’t sass your teachers – you should be nice!” Talking back to teachers should be a red flag to a parent. Especially when dealing with a child, who, like this girl, doesn’t often talk back to adults. Usually she’s what most people would call well behaved.
Respect earns respect in my opinion. If a child can’t get basic decent treatment from a teacher, what on earth would compel that kid to be nice in return? Plus remember, kids learn by example. Be mean to a kid and you often get mean kids in return.
Also, if you give a child this, “Be nice” response, why would they feel comfortable telling you that they’re having issues with a teacher ever again. I almost never mentioned my mean teachers to my mom because I was scared I’d get in trouble. The few times I did mention my bad teachers to another adult, I was told to be nice and behave better – i.e. there was no point to me telling anyone. I thought it was bad, but overall, normal to be treated poorly by teachers. They called all the shots and I had no choice but to go along with it.
It’s very upsetting that many kids are always worrying about the stuff above. The girl whose comments are posted above, didn’t just say her teachers were mean, but said over and over how worried she was about this issue. Going to school scared of the adults there is no fun at all.
I know there are good teachers out there. I’ve had many in my life. I have many friends who are teachers and who do try to be kind and respectful. I’m not against teachers, but mean teachers. I think what’s going on are too many kids per class, not enough time, teachers being forced by the system to do things they normally might not and obviously for some adults, a general lack of common courtesy and respect for kids.
In any case, disrespectful adults is yet another reason why my son doesn’t attend a typical school.
What sort of teachers did you have growing up – good, bad a mix?