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