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Category Archives: Education

Everybody is against bullying. Parents post pictures on Facebook of their kid standing on a street corner holding a sign stating “Shame on me for being a bully”. It makes me sad that they do not recognize that public humiliation is a form of bullying. We have pink t-shirt campaigns and we spend a lot of time campaigning against bullying. In the same way that we Just Say No to drugs, we Just Say No to bullies. Thankfully the kind of abuse I endured and perpetrated as a small child is not tolerated as readily anymore. Gone are the days when kids would facewash their classmates in snow with the full confidence that nothing would be done about it. I do believe that our society has become much less violent and abusive. But the anti-bullying campaigns have been partly misguided.

The emphasis should be on reflecting on your own personal behavior and making amends for any kind of bullying that you may have done in the past. The problem with the majority of anti-bullying campaigns is that they point fingers outward at other people rather than getting people to think about they act. Nobody can control the way that other people behave. The only person I have control of is myself. It is reminiscent of anti-rape campaigns that focus on getting victims to change their behavior to avoid being targeted. While it is true that taking common sense safety precautions is a sensible idea, it will not do anything to eliminate the cause of rape. Rape is caused by somebody making a choice to violently violate and hurt the victim. Bullying is caused by people choosing to engage in harmful behavior. They may lack the self awareness of the harm caused by their behavior. Admitting your mistakes is very hard to do but extremely valuable. Every sentient being wants the same thing. We all want to be happy and free of pain. If you hurt somebody you also hurt yourself.

The main reason why bullying in all its forms continues to manifest in all its different ways is due to its pervasiveness. We are so immersed in a culture that ignores and perpetuates bullying that we don’t even see it. That is why teaching people to change their own behavior is so important. The first step towards living in a kinder, gentler world is getting everybody to recognize all the ways that people continue to hurt each other. A parent reacts to a child’s tears by yelling at them. The child learns that it is the way to treat problems that you don’t want to deal with. Why is Gordon Ramsay so popular? Because a lot of people secretly wish they had the nerve to say the mean and horrible things that they are thinking. Buy nurturing mean thoughts towards people ultimately hurts yourself.

A few months ago I went through a period of intense reflection about my life. I have been hurt badly by loved ones. As a part of the healing process I have managed to forgive those that have hurt me. I have also given a great deal of thought to some of the ways that I have hurt people in the past and I have resolved to do my best to never hurt another person ever again. Ever since I did that I have felt happier and more at peace than I have ever been before. Resolving to be as loving as I can has really made my life so much better. If I can do it than anybody can do it.

It seems like everywhere I go I see bullying. Amanda Todd committed suicide after years of relentless bullying after being targeted by a pedophile. Reddit has been a haven for bullies for years. A highly celebrated bully who got tremendous karma and prestige had his real life identity revealed. If you have the stomach for it, google violentacrez and prepare to be disgusted and horrified. He created forums devoted to posting creepy photographs of young girls that were taken and posted without consent. At school I am dealing with many young bullies who treat each other terribly. People are spreading memes on Facebook promoting corporal punishment as the cure for unruly children. TV and movies seem to glorify bullying. It is clear to me that it is a pretty big deal and a problem that needs to be dealt with. So what are we going to do about bullying?

I am going to start off by saying that bullying seems to be too mild of a term to describe the behavior of many perpetrators. The name-calling that children do does not compare to what goes on on the Internet. It doesn’t just happen on reddit, it happens on any unmoderated comment section. YouTube comments are completely unreadable and are infested with unintelligible garbage. I feel myself getting dumber if I attempt to consume this junk food for the brain. Bullying is a catch-all term for a lot of harmful behavior which includes posting non-consensual porn, promoting child-beating as the cure for bullying, gossip, spreading rumors behind other peoples’ backs, name-calling, sexual harassment and physical abuse. But for now I suppose I will have to content myself with the term bullying. At any rate, there are a lot of things that can be done to deal with bullying. Here is my list of ways to combat bullying. Are you ready?

1. Talk to kids about bullying. Explain to them all the different ways it can manifest. Repeating gossip and rumors about people is a form of bullying. Saying “OMG do you know what she said about you?” is bullying. If you repeat trash talk that other people are saying, you are part of it. If someone tells you a nasty story, tell them that you aren’t going to hang out with them anymore. This applies to adults as well. Don’t spread rumors.

2. Stop entertaining yourself with mindless trash. Here comes Honey Boo Boo promotes hate against poor people. The entertainment comes from feeling better than them. You aren’t better, you are just luckier. Watching Hoarders seem to encourage people to look down at others for being mentally ill. It’s obnoxious. Cut it out already.

3. Be a good role model for your kids. Little pitchers have big ears. If they hear you gossiping they will do it too. If they see you watching trash tv they will watch it with you and think it’s cool.

4. Apologize when you catch yourself acting like a jerk. We have all participated in bullying. I have done it and you have done it. Learn from your mistakes and do your best to be better. Don’t be a bystander.

5. Support people that are being targeted.

That’s all I have for right now. I will add to this list if I think of anything else. I feel a lot better getting that off my chest. It sure did sound awfully school marmish, didn’t it?

In many schools around the world, children are required to remove their hats while inside. People in favor of the hat rule feel that leaving your hat on is showing disrespect.

This used to be true a very long time ago. When going to church, men took their hats off to show respect and women covered their hair. The hat rule has a religious history. If the school is public, why hold onto this out-dated tradition? You have to wonder if the hat rule should apply to all head coverings. Should all girls be required to remove their head-scarves while indoors?

Social conventions change and wearing a hat is a fashion choice, not a sign of disrespect. Besides, shouldn’t we pick our battles?

Before I begin I will state that many schools have already begun phasing out spelling tests. I do know of many teachers that use them but they are gradually phasing them out. This is a great thing and I will explain the reasons this change is necessary.

First I will define spelling tests. A word list is sent home on Monday for study during the week. On Friday the kids listen to a teacher dictate the words orally and they attempt to spell them correctly. The tests are marked and a percentage grade is awarded.

One of the reasons I oppose this is the fact that grading is perhaps the best way to get a child to hate school and learning. If you assign a grade to a students’ work you are motivating them to learn to earn marks. Marks become the reason for learning. It squelches the desire to learn for its own sake.

For students that excell in school, spelling tests are wonderful things. I always got ten out of ten and much praise for my spelling ability. Despite the fact that I never studied or put the slightest bit of effort into it.

Spelling tests are super boring. Learning things that aren’t interesting or fun is very difficult. Reading and writing about interesting things is much, much better.

For students who struggle to read and write, I can’t imagine anything more demoitvating then getting a two out of ten week after week. After a while it would seem pointless to try and we are already setting up the student for a lifetime of failure in school. Some kids have a really hard time and need a lot of support to learn. It is essential that they have the kindest learning environment possible.

It starts the sorting process of school. Kids get grouped into smart, average and stupid from a young age and they never lose this label. Marked assessments contribute greatly to this problem.

Spelling tests are also a poor way to learn spelling. There are much better strategies. There is phonics, sounding out, memorization and editing your written work. Not to mention that in this day and age, spell checkers are the way to go. You no longer have to spell perfectly, you can do it with the help of spell check. I realize that spell check is often used incorrectly but that is why instruction in how to use it properly is so important.

I am not trying to say that spelling is unimportant. I am saying it is over-rated. It can be taught while speaking, writing and reading. The more you read, write and speak, the more exposure you get to words and the easier spelling becomes. Even famous authors get their work edited. Why not kids’ work?