Humiliation of students at the hands of staff is detrimental now and in the long run
By Milo Carr, reporter
They say absolute power corrupts absolutely, so while teachers don’t have complete authority in their classrooms, it seems there’s enough power to corrupt them anyways. Some teachers at this school seem to turn their focus from teaching their students in favor of playing favorites, discouraging learning, and creating a toxic and unwelcoming environment.
Often times, teachers like this hope to create a false impression of a stimulating learning environment by limiting how often students can leave the class, specifically to use the restroom or get water.
When compared to other issues though, bathroom rules are trivial. The real issue comes into play when teachers realize some students aren’t doing so hot and decide the only way to remedy it is to start shaming students who are doing poorly. I’ve been in school for over a decade, but the worst humiliation tactic I’ve seen implemented is The List. Displaying a list of students who didn’t turn in an assignment is a misguided attempt to inspire productive behavior, and often harms students.
It’s common sense that students learn better in a positive environment; when they aren’t in near-constant fear of humiliation, students are more likely to ask for help from the teacher or raise their hand to contribute to class discussions. Often times, students think they hate a specific subject, but in my experience they don’t hate the topic. Rather, they just don’t understand it, and a mean teacher would discourage students from trying to learn.
When I started high school out of state, I hated math. Not for any particular reason, I just genuinely did.
Then I met my teacher. She never shamed a single student, and made sure everyone understood a topic before moving on. For the first time since elementary school, I understood math quickly and easily. Math became my favorite class, and I started to enjoy going to school.
That teacher encouraged her students to learn and talk to her if they’re struggling. Everyone I knew in that class understood the material and felt comfortable with being wrong, which was a stark contrast from some other classes I’ve taken. She’s become my basis for comparison when it comes to teachers, and while many educators at this school are as wonderful as her, some are her polar opposite.
There’s a difference between a cranky, strict teacher and a teacher who plays favorites. I’ve experienced both sides of it; both the favorite and disliked. It’s natural for a teacher to have students they like and students they dislike. It’s only when that teachers makes that dislike obvious to their students that it becomes unacceptable and toxic. Students who clearly aren’t liked by the teacher will often feel that they can’t ask for help, their questions are ignored, and that they are graded unfairly when compared to their peers. Disliked students are more likely to be shamed and humiliated by their teachers, which can’t make them want to learn or even go to that class.
When one is trying to foster a positive learning environment, it’s wise to keep harmful and rude opinions out of the classroom. Purposefully referring to a student with the wrong pronouns, especially “it”, won’t make already marginalized students feel welcome. Making a joke about someone’s gender when they get misgendered? Not groovy, baby. When you do that while you’re in a position of authority, you create a negative environment, and the people you’re joking about will likely feel unwelcome in your class and avoid interacting with you.
In short, if you want your students to at the very least tolerate your class, play it safe. Follow the golden rule — treat others the way you want to be treated. If you can’t be kind to teenagers, you shouldn’t be teaching teenagers.