You would think that the days of Victorian rigor and repression of… well practically anything from emotions to any form of deviance from the norm, were over. Or that the scary figure of the Catholic nun frowning just before she is about to deal swift and just punishment to a hapless youth no longer strikes fear in the collective minds of learners in the Western world.
And perhaps these days and manifestations truly are gone. However, not without leaving some traces in the followers who picked up their mantle. Meaning our current day educators, at various levels, that give punishments that rival those of the past. The modern twist though is that if/when those punishments don’t rival those of the past in severity, they outdo them in absurdity.
In the following lines, you are about to hear of 7 absurd education related punishments that took place last year alone, which is a clear indication that the US education system is far from healthy and sound. It appears that each age needs its exaggerations and exaggerators…
1. Weapons charge
Everybody knows that weapons are a fascinating paradox in the US. On the one hand, people are proud of their right to bear arms and get quite fussy if this right is brought into discussion. On the other, the anxiety regarding weapons’ use and the risk of … you know, getting randomly shot, are always in the forefront of the same peoples’ minds. And sometimes that leads to excessive and absurd caution. As was the case of a teacher at Washington Irving Elementary School (Chicago) who got suspended for bringing and demonstrating tools … to a carpentry class. Because… dangerous weapons. Makes sense, don’t it?
In California, at the Weaverville Elementary School, they take health hazards more seriously than the CDC. So much so that they put in detention a 13 year old boy for sharing his lunch with a colleague who was hungry. Way to go empathy builders! The reason was, apparently, that the school could not accept the risks posed by this dangerous operation “because of safety and liability”. Read, they’re scared out of their minds of getting sued over any minor thing.
3. What’s a little frost-bite?
Picture a Canada winter, with the temperature at about -34 degrees Fahrenheit. Now picture school children waiting for the bus to take them to school. Now picture the same bus making the first pick-ups and then breaking down. The driver decides to move the kids into her SUV and pick-up the rest using the same (personal) vehicle, because she knows it’s gonna take awhile for the repair team to come. Then try to imagine a helpful neighbor noticing that two of the kids were put in the cargo hold where there are no seat-belts, said neighbor calling the bus company and the driver losing her job. All of this happened. Doesn’t it make you feel warm and ragey inside?
4. What’s a little sunburn?
“We can’t allow toxic things to be in our schools.” When you hear this statement from a Texas school spokeswoman, you expect the story to unravel towards explaining how she single-handedly managed to stop a mustard gas attack before it happened. In fact, the item that the school forbade on a school trip was sun-lotion. Because the kids might ingest it or have an allergic reaction to it.
5. Bring the SWAT team
A school in Walnut Grove, Missouri went to full lock-down and called the police, which apprehended the dangerous mother of a special needs pupil there. You see, she didn’t sign in, after she was allowed entrance on the premises by the school guards themselves. And she probably didn’t sign in because the reason she came was a frantic phone call from a teacher regarding her child. But, no worries. The police and school took care of the problem and charged her with tresspasing.
6. The Manson twirl
Serial killers are all around us. It takes the vigilance of each and every one of us to prevent the next slasher from rising to fame and success. Which is exactly what a pupil of a school in Vernon, New Jersey did. You see, he noticed the disturbing tell-tale sign of a psychopath in the making in the colleague in front of him. Said colleague was… I find this hard to express in words… twirling… twirling … his PENCIL! Good God, what has society come to?! As, understandably, our hero was made uncomfortable by the behavior, he reported it. Which resulted in 5 hours of psych evaluation accompanied by physical analysis and blood and urine samples for the other kid. The superintendent rightfully declared: “When they demonstrate behaviors that raise red flags, we must do our duty.” Because “We never know what’s percolating in the mind of children, okay?”. Well said, sir. Another one caught in time.
7. You just stand over there, darling.
Como Park High School in St. Paul, Minnesota. 5 degrees weather. Fire alarm. School gets evacuated. Yes, the gym too. That includes 14 year old Kayona Hagen-Tietza who was swimming in the pool of said gym. Guess what? No time to change. Oh, well. No biggie. Just follow the wise professionals who will lead you to safety. And they did. Except when outside, she discovered that there’s a rule against teachers taking students into their cars. And she kept discovering the validity of that rule for about 10 minutes of hypothermia inducing cold until a brave and rebellious teacher got permission to make an exception to this rule. Not sure yet if the teacher in question is a hero or an unsavory rebel. Dangerous counter-authority behavior in any case.