Teacher Shows Kids Carpentry Tools, Gets Suspended on “Weapons” Charge

Readers — This is what truly perplexes me: Why do seemingly so many school administrators adamantly refuse to think like normal, rational human beings?

The other day I visited the Sudbury Valley School  in Framingham, Mass., and saw such a completely opposite world — a heart-soaring place where kids are trusted not only with tools but with their own educations — so now it’s doubly hard to read about cases like the one below. (More about Sudbury Valley to come. It really was so thrilling, I have yet to process the whole thing.) – L

A veteran teacher at a Chicago elementary school has lost his bid to reverse a four-day suspension without pay because he showed an array of hand tools to his second grade students as part of a math lesson.

Douglas Bartlett displayed pliers, screwdrivers, wrenches, a pocket knife, and a box cutter in his classroom as part of the lesson. He also described and demonstrated how each tool is used by professionals.

Mr. Bartlett, who has been a teacher in Chicago for 17 years, thought he was using physical objects to help his students learn the required course material.

Instead, according to school administrators at Washington Irving Elementary School, Bartlett was guilty of wielding “weapons” in his classroom in violation of various school policies.

School Principal Valeria Bryant cited Bartlett for “possessing, carrying, storing, or using a weapon on the job when not authorized to do so.”

He was also accused of violating school rules, repeatedly engaging in flagrant acts, inattention to duty, and negligently supervising children.

The equating of “tool” with “danger” reminds us that we have become so focused on threats to kids, we can’t see anything else. Not a cool lesson. Not a future trade. Not a welcome breath of the real world in the classroom. Just DANGER DANGER DANGER.

Something there is that loves to hate, to freak out and to blame. – L

What kind of deranged teacher shows his students a wrench????

What kind of deranged teacher shows his students a wrench???

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85 Responses to Teacher Shows Kids Carpentry Tools, Gets Suspended on “Weapons” Charge

  1. J.T. Wenting April 22, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

    the problem is, those little powermad mininazis think they ARE the voice of reason and the rest of the world is made to not realise it.

  2. SKL April 22, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

    Scary.

    The other day an internet acquaintance was talking about the “dangers” of kids at school talking about things at home. One person said she was called into the school and her child hauled off to the principal because her kid (1st or 2nd grade?) mentioned that the family had purchased a certain kind of bullet. The child he was speaking to reported this frightening behavior. The parent explained that they had been on a tourism trip to some location of historical importance and they bought a souvenir bullet encased in glass.

    But seriously? It is not illegal in this country for people to buy and own bullets, or to buy guns, or to put a bullet in a gun and shoot it (under the right circumstances). The schools have no business bothering families for legal behavior at home.

    Between this and the whole “what if / you never know” which I am hearing more and more these days, I want to scream sometimes.

  3. Steve April 22, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

    Incidents like this (and many others showcased here) resemble everyday life in Red China under Mao.

    Read these books and see the similarities:

    Son of the Revolution
    by Liang Heng

    Gang of One: Memoirs of a Red Guard
    by Fan Shen

    These memoirs read like chilling novels and will give you more cause for concern about our country’s direction.

  4. Lynda April 22, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    — Judge Dow quoted an earlier court ruling: “It is not the role of the federal courts to set aside decisions of school administrators which the court may view as lacking a basis in wisdom or compassion.”

    I read this to say that the judge may view the school’s suspension as idiotic, but the precedent of law upholds their right to make idiotic decisions.

  5. BL April 22, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    Do schools no longer have shop class? How could they without the tools mentioned in the story?

  6. MichaelF April 22, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    It is truly saddening as most kids these days will NEVER learn about the tools anywhere else. If it wasn’t for Scouts, or that I like doing handy-man tasks, my kids would never learn how to use shop tools.

    In this case was the suspension due to the box cutter and pen knife? Those I could see causing issues, but the rest, that would be ridiculous.

  7. lollipoplover April 22, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    “Education truly suffers when school administrators exhibit such poor judgment and common sense.”

    It also suffers when students have to wrap their little brains around a teacher being suspended for showing them the use of a box cutter then going to Art class and using an
    X-acto knife to create a beautiful project.

    Anything can be a weapon. It is the context in which it is used. I could use a tube sock filled with spare change and beat the crap out someone or stab them in the jugular with a very sharp pencil. But wearing socks, counting change, and writing notes with a pencil are not yet banned at schools. Yet. Idiots.

  8. Brooks April 22, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

    OH Lord. This really touches a nerve with me. Need to send this one to Mike Rowe since he’s trying to get more kids to consider a career in the trades. Maybe he’d show up at that school. I remember shop class in my school (no longer, due to budget cuts and probably fear of litigation).

    I applaud teachers who use real-world items to teach and that really makes an impression on the kids. Fortunately, our school system still has a lot of room for this kind of thing, but I know the fear is creeping in.

    On a side note, at 49, I am one of the few men in my circle of friends who know how to do anything in the trades. I have friends who can’t even change the pump in their toilet without calling a plumber. We should be teaching kids to be more independent, yet we’re doing just the opposite.

  9. Jennifer April 22, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

    For someone who urges people not to view horrible crimes as the norm, you seem to be going to great lengths to get your readers to think that school administrators overreacting is the norm in this country. You present the most sensational cases you can find as the norm, much like the media presents horrible kidnappings and murder as the norm. You’re doing the same thing they are, for the same reasons. I agree with your message, but your approach is remarkably hypocritical.

    And, the teacher should have spoken with the principal before bringing a pocket knife to school.

  10. Rob April 22, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

    Idiocy like this makes me want to demonstrate on the administrators how each of these “weapons” could be used as such. SO frustrating!

    Granted, my kid is in high school, not elementary school, but he takes a class called Geometry In Construction where the kids learn Geometry for part of the class and then they apply Geometry for the second part of the class by building a micro house from the ground up, including electricity and plumbing. The project takes the whole school year and at the end of the year they auction the house off and use the money to fund the next year’s class. The kids LOVE it. They get to use all kinds of tools, including power tools like saws and drills and nail guns. My son comes home with bumps, bruises, burns and cuts all the time and I’m fine with that and so is he! He is learning skills he will be able to use for the rest of his life, as well as a respect for all types of tools and their proper usage. That’s something I’ve taught him already, but it’s always good when the kids get outside reinforcement from adults who aren’t their parents.

    I got to tour the almost-finished project a few weeks ago and it’s amazing what they’ve done. I wish I could afford to buy it and put it in my back yard! :)

  11. Warren April 22, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

    Well pocket knives are not allowed on planes, so why should they be allowed in a classroom?

    I do not know which is worse, the teacher being suspended, or the courts saying the school has the right to be stupid.

    They really like to have it both ways. If a student gets out of line have him face charges in court. If a teacher is wronged a looks to the court for help, the teacher is told it is none of the courts business. Yahoo for the good ole USA.

  12. SKL April 22, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    “And, the teacher should have spoken with the principal before bringing a pocket knife to school.”

    Why?

  13. BL April 22, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

    ” you seem to be going to great lengths to get your readers to think that school administrators overreacting is the norm in this country”

    It is the norm. You say the teacher should have asked before bringing a pocket knife. I routinely carried a pocket knife everywhere from the time I was in grade school – 2nd or 3rd grade. We had tools like the above in shop class (7th grade and on), X-Acto knifes in art class (and the model rocketry club of which I was president). Etc. etc.

    And now it seems to be unthinkable everywhere.

    Somebody’s overreacting. Or just overacting.

  14. Mike in Virginia April 22, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

    They must not be using the dictionary when they defined “weapon,” as Mirriam Webster defines weapon as “something that is used for fighting or attacking someone or for defending yourself when someone is attacking you.”

    So while a boxcutter and pocket knife can be used as weapons, they are not weapons. I think the last paragraph really tells what is going on, which is that the administration already had a problem with this teacher for some other reasons and chose this incident to punish him.

  15. Warren April 22, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

    Jennifer,
    I disagree, for a couple of reasons.
    1. Lenore also posts positive stories.
    2. Lenore does her best to bring us updates, something the fear mongering media does not do.
    3. These article’s are evidence of growing movement, to weaken, and handicuff our kids. This is a real danger as opposed to abductions.

    Also, no the teacher should not have to get permission to bring a pocket knife or other tools into class for demonstrations. He should actually be given a pat on the back for going the extra step.

    If you believe what he did is dangerous, then you are just as idiotic as the administrators and courts.

  16. Stacey April 22, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    You will note that this occurred in Chicago, where they have some of the toughest “weapons” restrictions in the country, and still some of the highest crime rates…

    ‘Nuf said.

  17. Jonathan Gahan April 22, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

    I would imagine it was the pocket knife that pushed him over he edge. The box cutter couldn’t have helped either. Still, unless he was letting the kids play with the knife, which seems unlikely, I don’t see a problem.

  18. Mark S. April 22, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

    This was an episode of King of the Hill.

  19. Donna April 22, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    This is stupid. Most kids have many of these things in their homes and I don’t know anyone who keeps them under lock-and-key.

    As an aside, as the parent of a 2nd grader, I can’t for the life of me picture a single math lesson my kid had this year that these tools would have enhanced or even been remotely related to. I’m not opposed to him bringing them to class, just really curious as to what 2nd grade MATH lesson they were part of. (I also realize that none of you can answer that question).

  20. pentamom April 22, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    Just a guess: “You use math in a lot of different kinds of work. Carpenters use math all the time.” And then, since you’re talking to 7 year olds who may not really know what a carpenter does, you talk about what carpenters do. It might help bring home to them the point of why they’re learning math.

  21. J.T. Wenting April 22, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

    “Just a guess: “You use math in a lot of different kinds of work. Carpenters use math all the time.” And then, since you’re talking to 7 year olds who may not really know what a carpenter does, you talk about what carpenters do. It might help bring home to them the point of why they’re learning math.”

    Can’t mention carpenters. After all, Christ was the son of a carpenter, therefore mentioning carpenters is a violation of the law about separation of church and state (never mind that such a law doesn’t exist, the left has corrupted the law to be such).

  22. Papilio April 22, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

    So for this (AFAIK still completely normal in schools here):
    http://www08.schoolwebsite.nu/Portals/768/images/P1040002.JPG

    I imagine the guy would practically have been executed?

  23. Steve April 22, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    Did you notice?

    There was no angry mob of teachers crowding the principal’s office demanding justice for this teacher. Why? Might fear have driven their lack of protest?

    The news report mentioned: “The principal said the teacher had failed to obtain permission to use a box-cutter and a knife in a classroom demonstration…”

    Permission?

    Interestingly, the court said: “School administrators are granted wide discretion to carry out their educational mission, the judge said, and should not question that discretion when it does not violate specific constitutional guarantees.

    Who’s does the educating? Administrators? …….or teachers.

    Aren’t THE TEACHERS granted any discretion to carry out THEIR educational mission?

    Once upon a time, there was an assumption a teacher was an adult and did not need to get permission for what went on in class. A teacher is interviewed and hired on the basis of what? Apparently on the basis of whether or not he or she will run to the principal to ask permission for taking each baby step. Should the administration be hiring anyone they don’t trust to be a good, responsible teacher?

    The other teachers in this school were probably thinking, “What might our principal nail ME with if I make waves or any kind?”

    We have a disturbing situation when people live in fear and don’t come to the aid of their friends when they have been wronged. And this happens because of the ambiguity of what is and is not considered wrong. This is what happens in a totalitarian state.

    People live in fear of somebody reporting them for “anything,” because they know ANYTHING can be twisted to sound like something it wasn’t.

  24. everydayrose April 22, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    “But wearing socks, counting change, and writing notes with a pencil are not yet banned at schools. Yet. Idiots.”

    When my daughter was in the 5th grade she came home from school and told me that they had a new rule in her class. That nobody was allowed to be holding their pencil for any reason unless they were working on their schoolwork, and if they got caught they got a color change. She explained that the reason was that they had heard about some girl at some other school who had fallen somehow while she was holding a pencil and the pencil stabbed her in the throat.

    I so wish that I were making this up.

  25. Michelle April 22, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

    I see a lot of people (in various threads) complaining that Lenore cherry picks stories to exaggerate the problem the same way the mainstream media does. And yes, the above encounter is probably at the more extreme end. But it’s an extreme example of something that actually IS happening all the time, all around us.

    I personally have had four or five encounters with the police. Most of them were small, like the cop who was driving by and stopped to tell my kids not to ride bikes in the street — despite the fact that riding on the sidewalk is illegal here. In fact, there was a deputy who used to sit in our neighborhood every afternoon and yell at anyone under about 15 who came anywhere near a street.

    I’ve had CPS called because I let my 6 yo walk to the park. My SIL dealt with CPS after being reported for homeschooling — despite it being completely legal here. I personally know another family where the husband was accused of abusing his wife because she seemed scared in the ER. She was scared because she thought she was having a heart attack!!

    I’ve had dozens of encounters with well-meaning busybodies butting in to my parenting decisions, like the friend who jumped in after I told my 10yo to go home from the park (he was being a real pain, and didn’t want to be there anyway), telling my son, “You can’t go home! You have to stay with your mommy!” Last week another mom at church freaked out because, as I was leaving, my junior high and high school aged children got ahead of me and ended up in the parking lot without me.

    Many of the organizations in my area have absurd rules, like the one that says local elementary schoolers can’t get off the bus unless there is an ADULT at the stop waiting for them. I like that rule, though, because after running late and being forced to pick her daughter up at the police station, my neighbor now lets her 4th grader walk home from school.

    Of course, I also run into lots of people who are perfectly happy to give kids room to grow. Like the other parents in my neighborhood, who let their kids play outside with mine, and who complained about Deputy Grumpy until he was gone. Or the desk sergeant (at least, I suppose that was his position) who apologized for the other deputy who had called CPS on me. And the social worker who told me that it was neither illegal, nor dangerous for my 6yo to walk to the park alone. And the leaders of the Lutheran Church near our house, who open up their playground for neighborhood kids to play (unsupervised!) any time they want, and who welcome my kids rather than chiding them for walking over by themselves. And my elderly neighbors, who befriend the neighborhood kids rather than scolding them or sending them home. So it’s not all bad. There’s still lots of good left. And I think that will continue as long as we keep pointing out and fighting against the nonsense.

  26. Steve April 22, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

    Did you notice?

    There was no angry mob of teachers crowding the principals’ office demanding justice for this teacher. Why? Might fear have driven their lack of protest?

    The news report mentioned: “The principal said the teacher had failed to obtain permission to use a box-cutter and a knife in a classroom demonstration…”

    Permission?

    Interestingly, the court said: “School administrators are granted wide discretion to carry out their educational mission, the judge said, and should not question that discretion when it does not violate specific constitutional guarantees.”

    Who’s does the educating? Administrators? …. or teachers.

    Aren’t THE TEACHERS granted any discretion to carry out THEIR educational mission?

    Couldn’t that statement from the court have said?: “Teachers are granted wide discretion to carry out their educational mission, and Administrators should not question that discretion when it does not violate specific constitutional guarantees.”

    No, instead the court said the school could do anything it wanted to.

    Once upon a time, there was an assumption a teacher was an adult and did not need to get permission for what went on in class. A teacher is interviewed and hired on the basis of what? Apparently on the basis of whether or not he or she will run to the principal to ask permission. Should the administration be hiring anyone they don’t TRUST to be a good, responsible teacher? What’s wrong with this picture?

    The other teachers in this school were probably thinking, “What might our principal nail ME with if I make waves of any kind?”

    We have a disturbing situation when people live in fear and don’t come to the aid of their friends when they have been wronged. And this happens partly because of the ambiguity of what is and is not considered wrong. This is what happens in a totalitarian state. People live in fear of somebody reporting them for anything, because they know ANYTHING can be twisted to sound like something it wasn’t.

  27. BL April 22, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    @everydayrose
    “That nobody was allowed to be holding their pencil for any reason unless they were working on their schoolwork, and if they got caught they got a color change”

    What’s a color change?

  28. everydayrose April 22, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    It was their disciplinary system. They started out on green and if they did something wrong they went to yellow, then red, then purple or something. It was a bunch of convoluted nonsense but basically meant that they had gotten in trouble.

  29. Havva April 22, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

    When I was 3, my teacher showed me how to use a knife. I could request the knife whenever I wanted it, and after I learned how, she would sit across the room, or walk around the classroom while I used it. Same with other kids. We never had an incident.

    At my daughter’s daycare the 4 year old kids have a work bench with a hammer. They are of course forbidden from using it without asking a teacher first. But it isn’t locked up either.

    Of course when I went to public school there was nothing like that anymore. We were even set back to safety scissors in middle school. Something has been off for a long time at public schools.

  30. lollipoplover April 22, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

    @everydayrose-
    When my daughter was in kindergarten, she told us a story at dinner about a dad who came to their classroom to show them various animals that he hit with his car. She remembered the mountain lion was particularly cool. I wasn’t sure what she was telling me, but it sounded like roadkill.

    My next door neighbor had a daughter in the same class so I called her up and asked her if her daughter mentioned anything about class today. Her daughter told her about the cool animals they saw that were accidentally hit by cars. Huh.

    We asked the teacher later in the week (who brings in roadkill for show and tell?!) and she told us the dad wasn’t allowed to tell the kids how the animals were killed with guns during hunting season so they made up the story about hitting them with cars. Because telling kids they may hit a mountain lion with their car is so much more plausible….

  31. pentamom April 22, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

    “At my daughter’s daycare the 4 year old kids have a work bench with a hammer. They are of course forbidden from using it without asking a teacher first. ”

    Apparently that daycare has managed to establish the expectation that 4 year olds will ask permission before doing something not generally permitted, so that they can permit such things with discretion. Bravo for them! I’ve known parents who can’t manage that with their own kids.

  32. BL April 22, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    @everydayrose
    “They started out on green and if they did something wrong they went to yellow, then red, then purple or something.”

    Sounds racist to me.

  33. SKL April 22, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

    I don’t think this “weapons in school” nonsense is an exaggerated or sensationalized aspect of FRK. I hear from teachers and parents all the time about this stuff. They are making all kinds of ridiculous new rules, especially since Sandy Hook, and the kids and parents are buying right into it. And I find myself needing to counter the irrational fears my kids bring home. It would be unbelievable if I weren’t living it.

  34. pentamom April 22, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    lollipoplover — we’re toast.

  35. SKL April 22, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

    When my kids were 3 or 4 they went to a Home Depot workshop and built some wooden contraption with hammer, nails, glue, etc. Nobody died! When my sister was turning 8, she requested and received a “real tool box” for her birthday – complete with all manner of things that could bang, poke or cut a human being. She set about a number of “creative projects” and … nobody died! I can’t believe how many parents think it’s OK to hamstring our kids by keeping them away from even the thought of normal everyday tools.

  36. lollipoplover April 22, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    @SKL- My son got a workbench for Christmas with some basic tools. He’s 12 and likes to make things. It kept him busy all through this long winter. For Easter, he made bluebird houses for relatives by following the how-to-make-it directions on the Audobon Society website. Our neighbor across the street saw him working and gave him a circular saw and other very cool power tools (he’s making him some birdhouses too). He was helpful getting some of our downed trees cut up. He actually enjoys chopping firewood.

    I sometimes cringe when I hear the saw in the garage and m imagination goes into overdrive with images of severed, bloody fingers and ER visits. But then I remember he’s a careful, responsible kid and watch the news that tells of a rapper in a bad drug/mental state who severs his own penis and jumps from a building.

  37. Warren April 22, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

    Donna,
    I forget what grade, but it was an early grade. The teacher had listed, on the board..
    1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 1, 1 1/4

    she asked the class if anyone knew what they were. My youngest apparently answered “wrenches”.

    The point is doesn’t matter what grade, any real world physical elements can only aid in getting a lesson accross.

  38. Sarah April 22, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    ARrrr. I was listening to a very similar story on the way into work this morning. In LAUSD, a teacher was suspended due to his students turning in dangerous science project- a marshmallow gun. This has left his AP Biology and AP phycology students without a qualified instructor since February. It is sounding like this suspension may be more political- he was the teachers union representative on campus and he had been dealing with a disagreement with administrators. http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-teacher-suspended-20140409,0,1851167.story#axzz2zdwnAb2U

  39. Jim Collins April 22, 2014 at 4:25 pm #

    I had a class where I was required to have a pocket knife. The class was Drafting. We were taught how to sharpen wooden pencils with that pocket knife. We were also taught how to cut gum eraser blocks into shapes. One test that we had was to sharpen three pencils, each having a different type of point and then we had to cut an eraser to match a part only using the front, side and top flat views. Some of it must have stuck, because I do drafting now and specialize in 3D modeling. I can still sharpen a pencil with a pocket knife.

  40. Warren April 22, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

    Then the story of a teacher or professor suspended for a pic of his kid in a Game of Thrones tshirt.
    So no Lenore is not picking out rare stories, but I am assuming she just does not have the time to cover them all.

  41. Derek Sheppard April 22, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

    There really is a collective madness in mainstreamed schooling, when objects found in many homes and (work)shops, and used by people who go to work every day on their jobs as tradesmen are called weapons. Unfortunately, it seems, when educrats and so called teaching professionals are never part of the real world in which people, including young people, do real things, using real tools (yes, they can be weapons, but so can a fork or a teaspoon or a lunchbox) to make real things. Only by using tools, is it possible to learn about their safe use, and to respect the tools and the uses to which they should be put.

  42. SOA April 22, 2014 at 6:28 pm #

    I do not get this one. Don’t a lot of schools have wood shop type classes where they are taught and have to use these tools to get a passing grade? I know that is more of a middle school high school thing but still….

    Also with all the crazy projects the teachers are always assigning kids have to use tools to complete them.

    I just got sent home a project today for my 6 year olds that involves a hot glue gun specifically. Sorry but not trusting mine with the hot glue gun so I guess we will be doing a lot of that for them. But, yeah they require more and more advanced projects out of kids so either the kids learn to use the tools or the parents do the projects for them using said tools.

    I had a friend in high school cut off his thumb almost all the way off doing a school project. They were able to sew it back on thankfully. And after all that the teacher did not even give him an A!

  43. SOA April 22, 2014 at 6:37 pm #

    I actually wish schools or at least someone would teach kids how to use tools and do minor household fixes. My husband did not have a Dad growing up who taught him how to do this stuff. There are a lot of boys with no Dad in this country or I guess even a Mom to teach them how to change a tire, check your oil, fix a toilet, hang a picture etc and then they get grown and are completely useless.

    I also was never taught any of that stuff even the domestic stuff like cooking. I figured out the cleaning and laundry on my own pretty easily but I am still pretty useless with a lot of cooking stuff and sewing and any kind of tool related thing or car related thing. It would be cool if they would go back to teaching that kind of stuff in schools. I know my parents had that stuff taught to them in school. But we got rid of most of the home ec and shop type classes around here.

    Kinda a shame. Parents can teach that stuff at home, but many don’t for whatever reason and then they are grown and don’t know how to do it.

  44. Lance Mitaro April 22, 2014 at 10:20 pm #

    It’s really quite simple. The school board wants to create a barrier between itself and the teachers. That way they can throw THEM under the bus and exempt themselves from liability should something happen to one of these little snowflakes. It’s no longer shared responsibility, it’s individual assignment of blame. Someone always has to take the breadth of fallout and after so it can quickly be swept under the rug and out of public perception. The school board has integrity and credibility issues to maintain, don’t cha know? Right.

  45. Puzzled April 22, 2014 at 11:38 pm #

    I’m so glad to see Sudbury talk here. While I don’t think Sudbury is for everyone, and I see some issues with the methodology, I do think it is fantastic for most students, and if adopted as the norm would be far more successful than the mainstream we have now. That said, if it were accepted as the norm, we’d find a way to ruin it.

    In essence, I consider Sudbury an excellent second alternative to abolishing and outlawing schooling of children altogether.

  46. Jenny Islander April 22, 2014 at 11:53 pm #

    @J.T. Wenting: Huh?

    The law separating church and state means that teachers can’t preach to children or lead them in prayer on school grounds or on school time. This applies to any religious view, including atheism. It does not apply to mentioning religions, and in fact I had a parade of hippie teachers who nevertheless carefully and clearly laid out the Christian journey in the U.S., because you can’t understand American history or literature without knowing something about American Christianity.

  47. hineata April 23, 2014 at 12:08 am #

    In the meantime, I have spent the last several weeks bringing saws, hammers and an electric drill into my group of 7 to 10 year olds. Oh, and toxic paint and a sewing machine. We’re building something for classes to read in. Two of the 9 year olds have way more experience than me in building things, and one was explaining that no we could not put the screws through the hinges this week because I hadn’t pre-drilled the holes (they have to go into a bit of 2 by 4 at the back, because we’re only using thin MDF). I hung my head in shame, and he has promised to pre-drill them when we get back from holidays. Thank the good Lord for kids with skills :-).

    The principal only came by to look when he noticed one of my less practical kids having a go with a saw – this kid is a genius math-wise but a bit stunted putting it into practice, so the project has been particularly good for him…

    This teacher deserves a medal, not a suspension…

  48. hineata April 23, 2014 at 12:20 am #

    As for kids knowing about these kinds of tools, though, it probably is a good idea, if at all possible, to teach these things at home. That would be hard for apartment dwellers, I’m guessing, but wouldn’t most people with a home and garage have some basic tools at least? And apartments presumably have at least meter boards, so you can teach a kid how to change a fuse…

    Not that we learn everything, as that nine-year old taught me :-)

  49. Greg Allan April 23, 2014 at 5:55 am #

    Exactly the sort of presentation by a teacher that might appeal to and engage boys. This is now utterly forbidden in our school systems.

  50. Warren April 23, 2014 at 9:18 am #

    With this whole war on anything religious in US schools, how do they teach history? How do they deal with it being 2014 AD and teaching something say from 900 BC. ?

  51. Joey April 23, 2014 at 9:55 am #

    So this is ridiculous, this is why are kids are afraid to try anything, they them selves think, if a teacher, a person who we trust with our kids for hours a day to learn and grow are unable to show them how to use a tool is punished for using it would would happen to me, a child. Society has gone so far backwards, no pride in self worth or honor in being self reliant it makes me very sad for our childrens future. I guess in the photo below I must be a horrible parent. http://wp.me/a1suIo-mH and I am ok with that!

  52. Gary April 23, 2014 at 11:12 am #

    And this is why we should fix instances such as this in 50mt increments…

  53. Gary April 23, 2014 at 11:15 am #

    MichaelF: “In this case was the suspension due to the box cutter and pen knife? Those I could see causing issues, but the rest, that would be ridiculous.”

    Unless the teacher was playing Thunderdome with the kids no. He could have brought in a chainsaw and a box of fire ants, if he was using them as instructional tools there isn’t an issue.

  54. Gary April 23, 2014 at 11:20 am #

    @ Stacey:”You will note that this occurred in Chicago, where they have some of the toughest “weapons” restrictions in the country, and still some of the highest crime rates…”

    they don’t call it Chiraq for nothing.

    @Warren: Don’t worry, I am sure jennifer is a one and done poster.

  55. Gary April 23, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    jesus christ Michelle, where the hell do you live?

  56. lollipoplover April 23, 2014 at 11:54 am #

    “He could have brought in a chainsaw and a box of fire ants, if he was using them as instructional tools there isn’t an issue.”
    HA! For some odd reason, this reminded me of a clip from the Tracey Ullman show about the box test during the interview process. The second one is a bit long but well worth it. Is it too late to mention I have a wooden leg?

    The box test:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlwwM2fin14
    part 2:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsTep82EGsw

  57. Karen Hyams April 23, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

    After we enrolled our kid in a Sudbury school, I had the same reaction to stories I’d hear about how ridiculous schools have become. I still have it. I want to ask people why they put up with it, why they make their kids put up with it. Not everyone can choose to leave the system, but no one has to just accept it.

  58. Steve S April 23, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

    Unfortunately, this is the norm. Most schools ban knives, including small pocket knives. This isn’t just schools doing this. Many states and municipalities strictly regulate how and what people can carry. In addition, more than a few employers ban these items from the workplace. I wish this was an isolated incident, but it clearly isn’t.

  59. Papilio April 23, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

    Funny how I suddenly keep wondering how many murders are ever committed with a pen(cil)…

  60. Gary April 23, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

    lollipoplover, I like this one better…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIDtN8CDQmk

    😉

  61. SKL April 23, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    Warren, nowadays they don’t say AD and BC, they say CD and BCE.

  62. SKL April 23, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    Sorry, typo: they say CE and BCE now.

  63. anonymous mom April 23, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    @SOA, while there are not many things I think the internet is good for, learning to do simple (and some not-to-simple) home repairs is one of them. My totally non-handy husband, who never took a shop class or learned how to fix anything from his dad, has done fixes on our washing machine, car, and sinks that easily saved us over $1000 total in the last couple of years, from going online and finding video tutorials.

    I’m not the world’s best seamstress by any means, but, after having learned no sewing skills growing up, I can now do most basic repairs after watching videos online.

    One of the few really helpful uses of the internet I’ve found is learning how to tackle various repair and DIY projects. You sometimes have to search for a good video, but if you can find one, you can save so much time and money.

  64. longtime_engineer April 23, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

    I had wood shop in the 7th and 8th grade. There were all sorts of sharp tools that may now be banned. While in HS I had a combined drafting, print shop, metal shop. Again, I used actual tools in these classes. Even though I went to a top engineering college, these shop classes have had huge impact on my success. You learn very quickly what the limits of tools are and safe use was the first thing taught. My daughter is also grateful that she has been taught how to use tools. One wedding present was a nice tool set, for her. The tools have far outlasted that marriage.

  65. Stephanie April 23, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

    That’s just scary. He sounds a lot like my son’s third grade teacher, who does a wonderful job of keeping the kids interested. He even did a section where the kids went outside and learned skills such as building a shelter and trying to make a fire (didn’t work, but they tried). I hate that schools restrict great teachers like that.

  66. Warren April 23, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

    Any teacher that goes the extra mile to actually show students where in life they will use their math, or physics or whatever should be rewarded.

  67. jwgmom April 23, 2014 at 6:57 pm #

    Workbenches in preschool were standard when I was a kid, and I’m almost 70. Now, when I try to tell my early childhood students about all the wonders of a workbench and real tools they look at me as if I were suggesting they let the kids play with flame throwers. There is so much fear and so many “if I do this the kids might…” that kids are missing out on real world experiences. Plastic tools are not the same! The truth is, with proper education and reasonable supervision kids can be trusted to do lots of “grown up” things.

  68. SOA April 23, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

    Thank you and you are right. My DH has used the internet to pretty much learn everything he knows. He has over time learned quite a few handy things to fixing a toilet to installing blinds, putting up pictures, fixing a lawnmower, etc. I am proud of him. I kinda gave up on cooking but I was teaching myself when we first got married with cook books and the internet.

    So there is no excuse for not learning and taking it upon yourself to figure it out, but it would be nice to learn some of this growing up as well. :)

  69. Catherine Scott April 23, 2014 at 7:55 pm #

    Idiocy.

    I see a particular sort of willful professional stupidity. I am looking for the right terms to describe it but haven’t so far lighted on them. Unfortunately as I work in education I see it in teachers mostly.

    It’s manifest as the deliberate taking of anything to the farthest most ridiculous extreme until it degenerates into utter idiocy, like the above. It seems to be about being able to say ‘Look what you’ve driven us to’. So, partly about painting the self as victim and partly about resisting by over-complying.

    Any observations welcome.

  70. Catherine Scott April 23, 2014 at 8:08 pm #

    @steve

    ‘We have a disturbing situation when people live in fear and don’t come to the aid of their friends when they have been wronged. And this happens because of the ambiguity of what is and is not considered wrong. This is what happens in a totalitarian state.’

    Absolutely nailed it. I’ve been saying for years that all the apparently irrational pettifogging making up rules on the spot is softening us up for totalitarianism.

    If anyone has ever lived with an abusive partner or parent will tell you the never knowing what you’ll get in trouble for next is part of the torment and the inducing of helplessness.

  71. SKL April 23, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

    “nailed it” (used by a commenter above) – um, what does that even mean? Add it to the list of sayings our kids won’t understand because of stupid fears.

    We should compile a list of sayings too scary to pass down.

    nailed it
    hammer home
    cut and dried
    shotgun approach
    shoot from the hip
    threw a wrench in it
    in his sights
    whittle it down

    etc, I’m sure we could go on for a week….

  72. Papilio April 24, 2014 at 8:46 am #

    Hit it on the head?

  73. Dean Tow April 24, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    This principal definitely has a screw loose. Guess kids can’t even take “Shop Class” as I did in junior high, for fear it would expose them to weapons like wood lathes, drill presses, chisels, and firing ceramics. So much for learning the working trades. DT.

  74. pentamom April 24, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    Sawed off the branch you’re sitting on
    rapid-fire approach
    keep your powder dry
    set your sights on
    quick on the trigger
    shoot yourself in the foot

  75. SKL April 24, 2014 at 11:15 am #

    Yeah, Dean, “screw loose” – another soon to be lost metaphor….


    drill down
    fired up
    targeting
    scoped out
    tool kit (often used in business to describe sets of checkists, sample documents, etc.)
    tacked on

  76. Puzzled April 24, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    The school where I ‘teach’ (for 2 more months, anyway) used to do a power tool lesson every year. We only stopped because the man who did it retired.

    We still have several teachers in math and science who do projects involving power tools, and teach their students how to use them.

    I actually still think we don’t go far enough. When we encourage more project-based learning, the response from teachers – even those who actively do great projects – is to point out the time involved since “you can’t just let the student lose with a circular saw, you have to be there guiding them the whole time.” Really? Why not? If you believe you are an effective teacher, and you have taught them how to use it, why can’t you leave them alone? Something might happen – as it might with you standing in the room. So what?

    Instead of saying all that though, I usually simply say “almost all of our students are old enough to be drafted or join the military.”

  77. marie April 24, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    SOA…why not trust your 6-year-old with the hot glue gun?

  78. Sandi April 24, 2014 at 5:05 pm #

    Well, obviously the wrench was not the concern, but rather the knife and box cutter. Still ridiculous. A responsible adult demonstrating the proper use of tools is NOT a danger to the kids!! Amazing that we have knives RIGHT IN OUR KITCHEN and we even let our kindergartener and 2nd grader – gasp – use them!

  79. LM April 24, 2014 at 8:27 pm #

    I’m sure part of it is that he’s been there for 17 years. He’s expensive. They can get rid of him and then get 2 to 3 new teachers.

  80. Sandi April 24, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

    My 6 year old can use a hot glue gun just fine.

  81. SOA April 26, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

    Because they can easily burn you if you are a spaz which my kids tend to be. Hell I am an adult and I have burned myself with hot glue guns multiple times. I also don’t want hot glue ending up on my new expensive hardwood or ending up anywhere else it shouldn’t be. Some kids are more craftier, handier and trustworthy than others. I barely trust mine with scissors and with good reason. I have had more than one thing I did not want cut up get cut up by them.

  82. Hi, I'm Natalie. April 27, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    I once had a teacher bring PENS and RULERS to class. Can you imagine?! they could have been used as WEAPONS! Good for the school for making an example of this clearly violent and deranged teacher. FFS.

  83. SKL April 27, 2014 at 11:20 pm #

    I have never owned or used a hot glue gun. And I’m not going to buy one just because the school says my kid needs it for a project. Just sayin.

  84. B Costin April 28, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    The war against tool users continues. But fixing the problem is up to the parents. Do they want paranoid idiots like these administrators running their school? If not, then it’s time for them to exercise their inherent authority and get rid of them.

  85. Florian April 30, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    Wow. I’m an incredible optimist:

    When my daughter turned six, I needed to fix a toy during her birthday party. It needed a screw to close a lid, so I thought I ask which of the kids wanted to do it. To my surprise none except my daughter had ever used a screwdriver before…

    Reading this, I was lucky that none of the parents accused me of introducing something “dangerous” afterwards.