Monday, December 10, 2007

Bully Teachers

Speaking of teachers, here is something all students and parents should know.

Narcissistic teachers (and weak teachers) use something I call "scapegoat discipline." Believe it or not, they actually target a kid in each section at the beginning of the year. This kid is the selected class scapegoat. Whenever the teacher isn't getting what he or she wants, they start yelling at the scapegoat for something.

The reason is simple: Only one kid gets abused, so the others and their parents don't care.

But all kids are intimidated by the show. In other words, the teacher abuses one kid to control the others. Simply by making an example of the scapegoat.

This is nothing rare. Every schoolyard bully does the same thing. Every brutal dictator does too. The Jews served Hitler in this capacity for example, just as the Christians served Nero.

The abuse of the scapegoat escalates to shocking levels, just the most vicious looks and snarling and contempt you ever saw - way over the top. Truly, anyone who witnesses it should think Teacher belongs in a padded cell, but incredibly these smooth talkers get away with it, year after year.

Of course the kids hate these blow ups. But who do they blame for them? Not the teacher. They are afraid of the bully teacher, so they suck up to him or her. They have nothing but admiring praise for him or her. They blame the scapegoat for always doing something to set the bully off.

So now the scapegoat is a pariah, on top of it all. Anyone who blows that off is devoid of empathy. Kids kill themselves over stuff like that. It ain't no minor matter. And every adult who knows of it is morally obligated to protect any child from it.

It ain't good for your unabused child either. It sucks him into the ganging-up on the scapegoat, which he will have to project his shame for. It teaches him to blame the victim and suck up to bullies. So ALL parents should be concerned when they discover this happening to ANYONE in one of their child's classes.

The gradebook can be evidence in some cases. For, at least in one case I know of, the bully teacher would actually mark the scapegoat on the seating chart the first or second day so she could remember whom to target.

The target seems selected on basis of vulnerability in the cases I know of. He could be a kid from the wrong side of the tracks. Maybe she's a wallflower. Maybe he has been in trouble with the school before. Maybe a kid with no father and drunk for a mother. Whatever.

Weak teachers who use scapegoat discipline always impressed me as slipping into it rather than plotting it. They don't act so terrorizingly crazy when they get mad either. They are just trying to blame their incompetence on having a section "stacked" with "bad kids," so that the constant uproar coming from their door ain't their fault.

They will often target two or three kids in a section (instead of one) to take all the blame. Scapegoat discipline just passes the blame though, it doesn't establish discipline, because the weak teacher can just scream. She can't terrorize anyone. So, the gross unfairness just provokes more disrespect of her than it deters.

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At 3:42 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

I was the scapegoat kid many many times. I had an Nmother and the Nteachers loved to tick her off too, to say that I had a crazy mother (I did but that's another story...)

I won't take up bandwidth with the horrible things done to me by teachers. In the 60s and 70s no one sued the schools but my parents would have had some whopper of a case against our school district.

Stripped in the nurse's area by nurse & teacher, stolen from, lied to, purposely left behind on school trips (banged on the bus door & teacher told the driver to ignore me), left out in freezing cold during play time and locked out of the classroom, lied to, lied about, accused of things I was incapable of doing.

My first grade teacher, for example, was put into a mental hospital the year after I was there. She picked up a boy who sat next to me by his brush cut and threw him into a wall. I had medical pass to use the girl's room whenever I needed and she would always block my way and scream at me.

One of my kids had this sort of teacher last year. I got her out of that class as soon as possible.

After divorcing an N, being involved with 5 N men, and having an N mother I think I must have "kick me" on my forehead.

At 4:05 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

What are YOU complaining about? You got off easy not being under the Sisters of Mercy!

Just kidding, of course.

Our grade school was a "resting place" for nuns about to lose it after working in the ghettoes or being subjected to their cloistered mercies upon each other for showing any sign of having a mind of their own. One was just plain sadistic, and the others looked the other way.

At 6:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not all people are cut out for kids. Some people should not be parents or teachers. Managing people is a skill and a talent. You have to love people to be good at it.

People are taught at an early age that it is our duty to nurture the young. Many religious people HARSHLY judge those who choose not to have children.

This bully teacher has to live with the FEAR of losing CONTROL.
PS My mother got a teacher written up because of that scapegoat tactics. I call it laziness. Get rid of tenure.

At 9:06 AM, Blogger Kathy said...

I must at least partially disagree with you, because I have seen what happens without tenure. It allows the widespread abuse of teachers in private schools. The Catholic Church, for example, can violate employees civil rights with impunity because of this. These outrages never get more than a couple inches of newspaper space on page 10 though. They just stonewall for ten years and refuse to let the victim see the "evidence" against him or her. And this total lack of accountability (in an institution where you-know-what flows uphill so that a powerful superior always protects you from the consequences of your wrongdoing) of course attracts bully administrators. Teachers get abused too!

But, in principle, you're right of course. There should be fair and reasonable ways to get rid of a bad teacher. It is too hard in public schools, and unions (of all sorts) go overboard in blocking any effort to establish accountability.

On the other hand, unions are also the only thing that keeps bully managers and administrators out of a place.

At 9:22 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

Kathy - I was in a Catholic school for a little while. Then public. Ugh! in a SMALL town. SMALL in every way!!!

Now I am a Jewish convert - and the same things happen at Jewish Day Schools. Talk about holier than thous. Religion gives these bullies an excuse to abuse.

At 9:58 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

Amazing, isn't it? The devil hides where you'd least expect to find her. That nun was by far the worst. Just sadistic - to 2nd graders! None of the others did a thing to stop it. They all just got safely stupid.

At 9:59 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

PS, they hide behind religion because people judge by appearances, trappings. They ignore conduct. Which is stupid.

At 11:37 PM, Anonymous jordie said...

We have just pulled our kids out of a school for disabled teachers. It was run by a pack of narcissist/enablers and had no idea how to deal with the bullying by the student body because there was undoubtedly a pyramid hierachy of bullying within the school administration.

Our child was a scapegoat for her class. The bullying came from two girls whose mothers we found out later were top brass sycophants in the school. It was incredible. As soon as we complained about the bullying we were told that we had a 'perception problem' and the school could find no evidence of bullying. My daughter however went from being a happy child who loved school and had many friends to a desperate depressed and fearful child who had headaches, stomach aches, and all manner of other physical symptoms both before and at school on a regular basis. They reduced her to a quivering mass, but according to them they had 'no evidence' to suggest anything was wrong.

My daughter's teacher was very 'old school'. She thought bullying 'toughened you up' and that my daughter should not be so sensitive. She was a strict disciplinarian with no idea that children are actually human beings with feelings and need to be treated with love and kindness. Trying to talk to her was like trying to nail jello to the wall. She would kind of go blank when I tried to get some sort of response. She actually seemed to enjoy watching me get agitated by her behaviour. In the end I just wrote her off as being emotionally dysfunctional. I hate doing that, but she gave us no option.

This too was a religious school by the way, non-denominational, but still ranting about 'the love of God' while treating both children and parents with complete disrespect. Other private schools our kids have been in have been completely different, so we just had bad luck in this case. We are hoping the next place,which is very small and not 'religious' will give us what we are looking for.


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