• Sun, Oct 23 2011

Teacher Corrects Student’s Love Letter

In case you were wondering about how to make the best use of a teachable moment, this is the way you do it. This is the way you debate.You intercept a student’s love note, and rather than confiscating it, you edit it, then return it to them and make them rewrite it.

Brilliant.

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  • student

    I actually don’t see how humiliation is a good teacher. In fact, I think humiliation cultivates an environment of anger, resentment and fear. Furthermore, I think reading and carefully editing a students’ private thoughts is, to a certain degree, a violation of that student’s privacy. Should he or she pass love notes in school? No. Should the teacher confiscate it? yes. Should the teacher read a child’s private thoughts so carefully? Probably not.

    Feelings of romantic love, desire, and –gasp–passion are a completely normal part of development. I strongly discourage using humiliation as a teaching or discipline method. Furthermore, the act of writing itself can be cathartic, helpful and a great stress-relief. Humiliating a student for his or her *feelings* (be they immature, irrational or whatever) sends a negative message about the act of writing.

    For those of you who will accuse me of being “too soft” on kids. What if the teacher had confiscated the note, and handed it back with a Post-It that said “Do not write notes like this in class. If you do it again, I will be forced to show your parents.”

    • Mela

      ^^ I completely agree. It’s not brilliant, it’s a gross violation of authority and completely humiliating. It’s a horrible teaching method. Discourse is one of the best ways to learn. I don’t know how this would make a student feel more comfortable to participate in class, instead of writing love notes to escape to something she actually cares about. This is b.s. It just reinforces the divide between the student and teacher. This is the epitome of everything that’s wrong with the education system. Maybe if the Ms. minded her own f’in business and worried about engaging the students in the material, this girl would’ve been too interested in learning to do this during class.

    • miles

      If she did it again, would it be ok in your book for the teacher to actually show the writer’s parents?

  • Christa

    I’m confused about the sign-off “Love [deleted] & your son” ! I’m hoping it’s meant to be “sun”…

  • Meppy

    I don’t think the teacher meant to humiliate the student. Teachers have been intercepting notes and reading them aloud to the class for years; I think that’s way worse. Was the kid embarrassed here? Yeah, probably a little. Enough to make her think twice about writing a note again. But not as much as if their entire class had heard all the gushing and teased her about it for the rest of the year. I really don’t think the teacher meant any malice by it; I think it was genuinely written with a wry sense of humor, partially as an admonishment but also to make the material interesting. It’s not often you get to make grammar relevant to a young teen.

    Although the “& your son” in the sign-off worries me too.

  • E. W.

    I think this a hilariously creative way to “punish” a student for writing/trying to pass a note in class. The teacher didn’t read it aloud to the class so I see no harm. It’s between her and her teacher and it seems like a damn good way to prevent further note-passing shenanigans. This teeny bopper should be embarassed for sooooo many more reasons than a teacher reading her “love” note.

  • Becky

    BRILLIANT!!! What better way to teach a student first about the difference between written word and spoken word, and teach them to have a little respect and not disrupt class by passing notes.

    • student

      Yes, then the child will go graduate school and read many post-modern thinkers who argue there is no difference between the written and spoken.

  • MR

    And meanwhile our education system is the laughing stock of all industrialized nations. This little bureaucratic solution to ‘such a big problem’. This as we fall further and further behind our economic competitors. What joke and especially since most of my younger teachers in high school were in college during the civil rights movement during the late ’60s. And just so Vets don’t feel left out one of our favorites was a Vietnam Vet.

    • student

      huh?

  • MR

    @student

    Yeah, should have fleshed out my last concept more. That is, the joke that this teacher doesn’t even acknowledge or respect the individual privacy and expression fought for during the civil rights movement. I threw the Vet in cause he had the best insight on the drug culture prevalent in the US during the mid to late ’70s – this learned from what he saw in Vietnam. Kids need this kind of real life experience thrown at them on daily basis. Our current education system is in a vacuum. It doesn’t touch on aspects of real life. It’s not doing a good job of recognizing the forces of the global pressures we are currently under.
    The student’s love letter should have been disposed of and not looked at, let alone edited.

  • AP

    As an 8th grade English teacher, I don’t think this would be perceived as “humiliation” by my students. Knowing my students, they would probably be more annoyed that they have to rewrite something – anything, really, as they are adverse to revising. I kind of like the assignment because it is implicitly telling students that anything they write can – and should – be grammatically and mechanically correct and worthy of publishing. It gives credence to the literary category (genre?) of love notes/notes in class. I do see the point that privacy should not be infringed, but keep in mind that anything a student produces or has is technically school property while on school grounds.

    I also take umbrage with the idea that THIS example is the “epitome” (questionable word choice aside) of all that is wrong with the US’s public education system. This nowhere near broaches the deep-rooted, complicated issues with which public education grapples. To argue so is entirely too simplistic.

    • MR

      Yes, my criticism is not limited to the actions of the teacher toward the student’s love letter. I can also see that my comments sound anti-teacher, and I’m not.

      But what I’ve seen in the last 20 years in public education is frustrating, cause there are these policy objectives that are suppose to improve the students’ education – one example being smaller class size. Let’s say before there were 24 students per teacher and now there are 16. In order for it to make economic sense you’d have to improve the student’s test scores by 50% cause you need 50% more teachers to educate the same number of kids before. Not an obtainable objective. But in some places this happened and the improved academic performance of the students was minimal. The reason why is we didn’t increase the supply of education.

      Meanwhile, Asia and Europe have much longer school years. Trust me I don’t think we should go psycho like the Asians, but how about the Europeans. Right now our kids spend just less than 4 months on vacation the Europeans kids just less than 3 months. For us to get there you don’t have to change summer break that much, just make the holiday breaks during the school year a lot shorter. Just doing this would increase the supply of education by more than 12%. Maybe these are simplistic comments, but I don’t think so.