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Blue In The Face Over The Dino

, , , , , | Learning | September 25, 2015

(My fourth-grade teacher is a huge sourpuss and hands out lots of busywork so she can take breaks from hands-on teaching. This time, she hands out simple prints of dinosaurs and announces that we will be coloring them in, working in pairs. I grab a blue crayon and start adding stripes on the back.)

Girl: *who I’m working with* “What are you doing?!”

Me: “I’m making stripes.”

Girl: “But that’s wrong! The teacher said that dinosaurs are brown or green. You’re not supposed to use blue!”

Me: *shrugging* “So what? It’s just coloring.”

Girl: “But dinosaurs aren’t blue! They’re green or brown! The teacher said!

Me: “How do you know what colors dinosaurs were? People have only ever seen their bones anyway, so we have no idea what color their hides were.”

Girl: “I’m telling! You’re going to be in trouble!” *raising her hand* “Mrs. [Teacher]! She’s coloring her dinosaur blue!”

Teacher: *rolling her eyes and heaving a sigh* “[My Name], you can’t color your dinosaur blue. They are either green or brown. Look, everyone else is coloring their dinosaurs the right way.”

Me: “What was the point of giving us a whole box of crayons, then?”

Teacher: “[My Name]! There is no talking back! If you can’t color your dinosaur the right way, then you can sit out the activity. It’s all right, [Girl]; you don’t have to work with her.”

Me: “Fine. There’s no point in doing it anyway.”

Teacher: “Excuse me?”

Me: “I’m not going to sit here and color in a dinosaur solid green or brown because I’m told to. It’s boring and a pointless waste of time.”

Teacher: “[My Name], go to the principal’s office now and wait there! I will come to deal with you later!”

(The other students giggle and mock me as I leave the room. I wait on the bench outside the office for a long time before my teacher comes down and goes into the principal’s office. They talk for several minutes before I am called in.)

Principal: “[My Name], your teacher here tells me that you were being very disruptive during a class activity, that you upset your classmate, and then when you were told to behave you talked back to her and called the assignment stupid. Is that true?”

Me: “Yes, but—”

Principal: “No buts! There is no possible excuse you can make for this behavior. These kinds of transgressions can be punished with suspension, and your teacher does not want you to return to the classroom and ruin her lessons. You will wait until your mother comes to get you and we will all have a talk.”

(The teacher gives me a smug look as I go back outside to wait on the bench in the hall. My mother works outside the base, so it is over an hour before she shows up, looking angry. She checks in with the secretary.)

Mom: “[My Name], what did you do this time?!”

Principal: “Oh, good, you’re here. [Secretary], please call her teacher and let her know this student’s mother has arrived so that we can discuss her behavior. [My Name], why don’t you tell your mother why you’re in trouble?”

Me: “I’m getting suspended for coloring my dinosaur blue when apparently, they’re only supposed to be green or brown.”

Mom: “Seriously?”

Principal: “And what else?”

Me: “And then, the teacher told me I wasn’t allowed to color if I wasn’t going to do it right, so I said it was stupid to even give us crayons if we were only allowed to use two colors and that it was a waste of time anyway. Then she sent me out to the office.”

Principal: *giving my mother a look* “You see? We simply cannot have this behavior. We’re afraid she might be a bad influence on the other children.”

Mom: “Are you KIDDING ME? You kept my daughter out of class for almost two hours, called me out of work, and made me go through all those checkpoint gates because SHE WASN’T COLORING LIKE A GOOD LITTLE ROBOT?! WHAT THE H*** IS WRONG WITH YOU?!”

Principal: *stammering* “Uh, w-w-well, we—”

Mom: “And how did you say you were planning to punish her?”

Principal: “Um, ahem, well, because of the way she spoke to her teacher, we are looking at a minimum of a three-day suspension.”

Teacher: *walks in, looking pleased* “That’s right. And she made the classmate she was assigned to work with cry.”

Me: *sarcastically* “Sheesh, she actually cried?”

Teacher: *smiling at my Mother* “You see what we’ve been dealing with? And then she told me I was wasting her time.”

Mom: “Good for her. She was right.”

Teacher: “I- I beg your pardon?”

Mom: “First of all, she’s ten. I don’t know about your other students who cry like babies over their dinosaur being ‘colored wrong,’ but she is way too old to be coloring with crayons as a class activity, especially if it’s just an exercise in conformity.”

Teacher: “Uh, well, that’s not the point! The lessons are about following steps and instructions—”

Mom: “Pfft, give me a break. It was COLORING, not science. Don’t give my daughter crayons if you don’t want her to be creative, don’t waste her time with crayons and call it teaching, and don’t waste my time and call me out of my job because you can’t do yours. I’m taking my daughter back with me today, and I will be looking into a new school for her.” *to me* “I can’t believe you have to put up with this.”

Me: “Me, neither.”

(We left the teacher and principal red-faced and speechless, and later, my mom bought me a giant box of crayons.)

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