My stories are ones where I learned how to "get around" the system. My first good lesson was when I was in third grade when the meanest teacher in the school caught me sliding down the stair bannister.

I had asked to go to the restroom in the middle of class and found myself in the perfect sliding atmosphere. I'd seen other kids do it and while it scared me--I may plummet to the concrete floor below..why couldn't I at least test it out just now when no one was looking?

I got about 3 feet down the dark polished wood when Mrs. Hobbs caught me with a sharp "Ginger!" I jumped off the bannister so fast and instantly knew I was in for a whipping at the Principal's office, which would inevitably lead to a pre-promised double-whipping when I got home. I was SO screwed at that moment and felt the tears and urine both begin to emerge slowly from fear (whippings at home were NO laughing matter).

But, very oddly, Mrs. Hobbs then only said, in a very disparaging tone, "You know better than that!" and she WALKED AWAY! I was left alone on the stairs; the hallway was empty. Why did I not get the punishment that every single other kid got?

I learned then and there--and began to carefully hone my new-found craft--that if you were a good kid in class and teachers liked you, you could do some of the most horrible things and get away scott free. This is something that I took advantage of every single year after that...and many of the things I did would have had "bad" kids expelled, but because I answered all the questions in class, and knew when to shut my mouth, I was able to exact punishments on peers behind everyone's backs. For example: not allowed for anyone else, I was frequently trusted to be alone in classrooms--to the detriment of that person who just "slighted" me on the playground. Their homework was suddenly and inexplicably TOAST.
...but I was a good kid and could NOT have been the culprit... "Sandy, you'll need to be more careful with your homework in the future. You must now _____ (fill in your own punishments for "lost" homework)."

What do we teach kids by playing favorites? I was allowed to lie about missing homework (that I'd never even begun to complete). I was allowed to cheat on tests and assignments that, had I studied one hour, I'd have passed easily.

Bright kids learn lessons--many of the lessons are learned without knowing we're teaching them.
We must hold our bright kids accountable for thinking; for applying their learning--and not simply expect a regurgitation of facts--that's no real accomplishment for them.

I was allowed to cheat myself of an education and to learn/perfect the desire to use dirty, backhanded tricks that now my morals have to fight nearly every single day. We need to re-think education to not only engage the academically slower students, but also those who find their own entertainment; those who struggle to stay engaged in the silliness/irrelevance of schooling.

Tags: cheating, gifted, laziness, lying, morals, strugglers, trick

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Replies to This Discussion

Wow, I would never have guessed. You are right though, they did you a disservice but you've bounced back nicely. It's funny how powerfully our stories affect our practice. Thanks for sharing!
Wow, Ginger, I learned a similar lesson and cheated myself of an education. But mine was, be smart and you won't have to work hard. Teachers actually told my parents that I didn't have to do certain assignments because they knew I could do the work. So, instead of differentiating instruction to meet my needs, they let me get away with handing in garbage (and getting As) or doing nothing (and getting As). I actually became a teacher just so I could make sure this didn't happen to other children I teach.
What an interesting turn on the "damage" favoritism does to the recipients. While I guess I understand it and fought against it as a teacher (Boy, was I ever in the hot seat when I treated the "darlings" like all the other kids), but I generally remember the damage done to me (and others like me) by insensitive or clueless teachers. I recall the third grade teacher who left one of her anointed in the class to "take the names of anyone who talks." Of course, all of us who weren't in the good graces of the name taker got put on the list; the others, not so much! When the teacher returned, those of us on the list got paddled - and yes, I was one of those children subject to the "double punishment" at home.

Frankly, it still bites that a teacher could cause me to carry around most of my life a feeling of unworthiness, and I vowed to try ever so hard not to be that teacher. I suppose I haven't always lived up to my vow, but I do know I've tried. I only hope that for those students who I may have hurt unintentionally that there has been someone who has counteracted my mistakes.

Even more so today do we need to be ever vigilant in the ways in which we treat all children.



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