Bullied Into Bending The Truth

, , , , , , , , | Learning | December 10, 2019

(My brother is three years younger than me and started at my secondary school this year, aged eleven. He almost immediately starts getting bullied by a kid in his class, who happens to be the brother of a girl in my year. The bully is easily the smallest child in my brother’s class and is constantly angry, fighting constantly, and seems to be bullying several kids, not just my brother. I witnessed him come up behind his sister and demand money from her; then, he kicked her in the knees so she fell to the ground before kicking her again. He also made lots of nasty comments that made his sister cry. The school does nothing because the bully always starts fights when teachers aren’t looking and then claims self-defense, getting away with it because he’s smaller than them. I offer to help my brother constantly by letting him hang out with my friends or by going to stand near his class in breaks — I’m a school prefect/monitor so could intervene — but my brother has autism and is already struggling socially so he doesn’t want to be with my friends or for me to be near his. Until one day…)

Brother: *crying and running over* “Help! Help! Please help!”

Me: “Is it [Bully]?”

Brother: “Yeah, he got me and now another boy, too.”

Me: “Okay, stay here.” *to my friends* “Look after him, please!”

(I run down to the area where the younger kids have break and see [Bully] immediately. He’s sat on another kid’s neck with his knees on either side of his throat and is just landing punches on his face. As I run closer, I can see the boy underneath is going purple and is pulling at [Bully]’s knees, obviously unable to breathe.)

Me: *still running over* “Hey! Get off him!”

([Bully] doesn’t respond and as I get close, the boy underneath goes limp, still being punched. I grab the scruff of [Bully]’s collar, intending to pull him off the other child and to his feet. I’m only 5’3” and female but I still tower over this tiny child and my panicked grab of his collar results in more than the intended force. Instead of pulling him to his feet, I throw him back where he crashes into a pillar and crumples. I freeze, horrified that now I may have hurt someone; I’m a nerdy girl who’s never been in trouble before. A teacher who knows me and the other prefects well comes running over.)

Teacher: *running over* “[My Name], just go! Run! I’ve got it.”

(I ran for it, leaving the teacher to deal with both boys. The boy who was attacked had to go to the hospital for treatment for a broken nose, broken tooth, and difficulty breathing and swallowing. The teacher knew about the bully and the school’s rule of needing a member of staff to witness and bent the truth a bit. She told them that she’d witnessed the attack on both my brother and the other boy but denied that I’d been there, saying that no one had hurt [Bully] and he’d been making it up to claim self-defense. He ended up getting a long period of isolated education, working one on one in a classroom and taking breaks by himself. It’s not totally moral for the teacher to have lied, but given [Bully]’s year of attacking people every day, it felt justified!)

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Next Time Make Sure You’re Holding All The Cards

, , , , , , | Learning | December 2, 2019

(In college, my public speaking professor hands out an assignment that is to be done in pairs, due in one week. Each pair picks another country and gives a five-minute speech about their history, politics, population, economy, etc. She selects the pairs, my partner being a girl I don’t know. We swap contact info and, before I can ask when she wants to get together, she leaves. Our class meets Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This is Wednesday. I wait a few hours before calling her, thinking maybe she has another class. She doesn’t answer. On Thursday, I send her a text but she still doesn’t reply. On Friday, we have class again. The professor gives us the second half of the class to work on the project. The entire time, my partner is on her phone, barely acknowledging me.)

Me: “Do you want to cover political history or agriculture?”

Partner: “Uh-huh.”

Me: “You… want both?”

Partner: “Whatever.”

Me: “Okay. You can cover agriculture since that seems… uh…” *searching for a word other than “easier”*

Partner: “Okay.”

(I go to my professor at the end of class.)

Me: “[Professor], I’m not sure about doing this project with [partner].”

Professor: “Are you not getting along?”

Me: “I just don’t think she’s invested.”

Professor: “Are you?”

Me: “Well…” *shows her my work so far* “I have the basic outline done and I searched the library’s system so I know which books to check out when I go back.”

Professor: “So, what’s the problem?”

Me: “I tried to get in contact with [Partner] and she never replied. Just now I was trying to divide the topics and she was on [social media], not even listening to me.”

Professor: *shrug* “You’re adults now. You’ll have to work it out on your own.”

(I spend the weekend trying to contact my partner while doing research, diving into my own topics while picking up tidbits of her topics along the way. I am adamant that I am not going to do to the whole project, but I don’t want to get a bad grade. Monday comes and my partner isn’t even in class. I send one more text, saying I am going to be at the library Tuesday afternoon — the day before our project is due — starting around five pm, asking her to join me. She still doesn’t reply. By Wednesday morning, I have the entire project done, timed, and organized so that we can go back and forth on our topics. I write our facts on note cards, highlighting the topic line based on whether it is mine or hers — pink for mine, yellow for hers — and put a note at the top of each note card showing what the colors represent. I always try to arrive at least five minutes before class so I can get settled. My partner arrives five minutes late, during another presentation. She makes no mention of why she hasn’t helped, nor has she done any work for herself. I am upset but still give her the rundown on the project, showing her the highlighting and how I broke everything down. For simplicity, let’s say she has topics A, C, E and the conclusion while I have the introduction and topics B, D, and F. We divide the notecards and wait our turn. I should note that I hate public speaking or being the focus of a conversation, so I’m already on edge.)

Professor: “[My Name], [Partner], are you ready?”

Partner: “Yes!” *grabs all the notecards* “Oh.” *laughs* “I guess you need some of these.” *hands back the first notecard with the introduction*

Me: *unsure of why she’s suddenly so enthusiastic* “Yeah…”

(We take our place at the front of the class.)

Me: “[Country] is a land rich with a diverse history, unique cultures and…” *reads the rest of the introduction*

Partner: *reads topic A in a monotone voice*

Me: *reaches over to take the Topic B card*

Partner: *harsh whisper* “I’m not done!”

Me: “What?”

Partner: *reads topic B*

Me: “Uh…”

Partner: *continues*

Me: *whispering* “That’s my part–” *reaches for the card again*

Professor: “Ladies, is there a problem?”

Partner: “No.” *continues reading in a monotonous voice, turning away from me*

Me: “That’s my part!”

Partner: “Shh!”

Professor: “[My Name].”

Me: *bright red and very anxious* “I… I…”

Partner: “[My Name]! Stop! [Professor], can I please just do this? [My Name] is messing me up.”

Me: “She’s reading my part!” *realizes how childish I sound* “We had assigned parts and–”

Professor: “[My Name], please be quiet.”

Me: “But–”

Professor: “OUT!”

Me: “But–”

Professor: “NOW! I’ll deal with you at the end of class. Go sit in the hall.”

(My face and ears are so red I can feel my pulse, but I leave the room without another word. I sit in the hallway, angry and crying, while my “partner” reads the entire presentation. At the end of the class, my partner comes out, looks at me sitting along the wall, smiles at me, and leaves. The professor calls me back into the room.)

Professor: “What was that?”

(I explain the division of topics, color coding, and how I did the work and my partner did nothing.)

Professor: “Do you have proof?”

Me: “There are the notecards.” *opens my bag and begins looking for them*

Professor: “Okay.” *holds out her hand*

Me: *realizing my partner took the notecards* “But [Partner] must have them.”

Professor: “So, you have nothing?”

Me: “But I came to you earlier about her and I… I have parts of it memorized. I can tell you which topics I was supposed to read.”

Professor: “I’m sorry, [My Name]. If you have no way to prove you did this work, I have no choice but to give you a zero.”

Me: “She stole my parts! She didn’t do anything but read! I did all the work!” 

(My eyes burn with new tears.)

Professor: *sigh* “Okay. I’ll give you until the next class to prove it. Otherwise, the zero stands.”

(I called and texted my partner constantly over the next two days, adamant that she admit she did nothing, or at the very least that she had taken over my topics. Still, she didn’t answer. I showed the professor that I had been trying to contact my partner but she just wasn’t answering. With no proof of my work and no word from my partner — who was absent from class again — the professor kept the zero and dropped my grade substantially. Public speaking was a requirement for my diploma, so I had to take the class again the next semester with the same professor. When that project came around again, I spitefully picked the same country. The professor initially refused, saying I’d already done that project. I reminded her that she gave me a zero because I couldn’t prove I had done anything. This time around, I got an A, an apology from the professor, and a lesson in showing your work.)

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Those Instructions Don’t Float With Me

, , , , , , | Learning | December 1, 2019

I have Asperger’s and take instructions very literally.

My infants’ school had its own swimming pool, so we had mandatory swimming lessons as part of PE. In one of the first lessons, we had to do an exercise where we were told to hold on to one edge of the pool, and then push off from it and glide across to the other side. The teacher repeatedly emphasised that we were not allowed to paddle or kick. We had to keep our arms and legs completely still and just glide across from the initial push.

I made it about halfway across before I started to sink, but I did exactly what I was told and kept my arms and legs completely still even when I was almost at the bottom of the pool. A fully-clothed teaching assistant had to jump in and rescue me.

Funnily enough, the school never thought to tell my parents about this. They only found out years later — when I was no longer at that school — when something reminded me of it and I told them the amusing story of that time I nearly drowned.

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Sounds Like Some Bullying Bull To Me

, , , , , , | Learning | November 30, 2019

(I am the small, quiet kid in school. One day, a known bully walks up to me out of the blue and throws a punch. I go down instantly, and the bully then proceeds to kick me and swagger off. I hear the monitor blow their whistle and chaos erupts. I end up in the office with a bloody nose, a lot of pain, and… a three-day suspension from school.)

Me: “But he threw the punch and kicked me while I was down!”

School Official: “[My Name], you were in a fight. It doesn’t matter who threw the first punch–“

Mom: “Excuse me… The bully did this in front of multiple witnesses, all of whom said [Bully] attacked my daughter, kicked her, and walked off. My daughter was completely the victim.”

School Official: “[Mom], we have a zero-tolerance policy for fighting in this school. That means that if you’re in a fight, you get punished.”

Mom: “So, what you’re saying is that [Bully] can beat up whoever he wants, knowing that his victims will be punished just as severely as he is. You realize that you are reinforcing his bullying, by then bullying innocent children on his behalf.”

School Official: “Ma’am, it is not bullying to enforce a policy against fighting.”

Mom: “If the policy punishes the innocent, then it absolutely is bullying.”

School Official: “I’m not going to argue with you any further. Your daughter was in a fight. She’s suspended.”

(My dad taught me how to defend myself, and my mom told me that regardless of what the school said, I was not in trouble with my parents. I ended up staying in a large group of friends, which helped protect me from the bully, but every year I attended that school, bullies would pick fights, and the victims would be punished, too. The zero-tolerance policy did not stop fights; it just taught kids that if they were going to be punished anyway, they might as well earn it. Fights got a LOT messier before I graduated.)

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It’s The Teachers That Need To Be Graded

, , , , , , | Learning | November 29, 2019

My friend is a teacher at a private high school. He’s one of two science teachers, as the school is pretty small. The other science teacher has been there for years and is very set in her ways. She believes there’s one way to teach, and if students don’t pick up on the material, too bad for them. She prides herself on the fact that “only a few students get As” in her class. Apparently, the teacher who was there before my friend also had a similar mentality, so it was very difficult for most of those students to get good grades in science.

My friend, on the other hand, believes that everyone is capable of getting an A if they’re willing to put in the effort, and is willing to help students during free periods and after classes, while the other teacher is not. My friend is new to teaching, so after he submitted his first-quarter grades, he got pulled into a meeting with the principal and the other science teacher. Apparently, the students in my friend’s class had “too many As” and he was being reprimanded for not making his class rigorous enough. The whole time, the other teacher kept giving him smug looks and making comments about how some people just weren’t cut out for teaching, if they didn’t have a firm enough hand for it. Basically, it came out that when his class’s grade average was way higher than hers, she threw a fit insisting it must be because he was giving his students easy As, because there was no way that many high schoolers could master the sciences to that extent.

He asked for a copy of her tests for the next units they were going into, and said he wanted to administer those to his class, since she thought his weren’t rigorous enough. The principal agreed and told my friend that he should use this as a learning opportunity, so he could “determine the level of difficulty” he should be striving for.

My friend taught that unit the same way he taught every single unit prior to it. He took time with students who were struggling, was always willing to repeat and review difficult concepts, and made himself available for whenever they could meet with him for extra help. At the end of the unit, both he and the other teacher administered the same test. 

In his class, the average grade was 92%. In the other teacher’s class, the average was 76%. The principal called him back in and checked that he hadn’t given extra credit or special help during the test. My friend swore he hadn’t, and then, in the most respectful way possible, told the principal that he thought that maybe the problem wasn’t that his class was too easy.

The other teacher is currently being retrained.

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