Boy, growing up I thought the Catholic nuns were tough. Yet another elementary teacher has been caught on tape using public humiliation and class condemnation as a pedagogical tool. In New Albany, Indiana, Kristen Woodward (a teacher at S. Ellen Jones Elementary School) verbally abused 5-year-old Gabriel Ross in front of the class, even getting his friends to condemn him. It is something out of the Pol Pot Guide to Elementary Teaching. The tape recording is linked below.
Gabriel appears to have class behavior problems of listening and disrupting class. However, like the recent outrage over the abuse of an autistic child, here, the use of public humiliation is hardly the solution and the teacher has been suspended with pay.
Besides calling the boy “pathetic,” Woodward says the following before the class: “You’ve punished everyone in this building with your behavior. Everyone has been affected by your nasty behavior. Everyone. Cafeteria workers, the monitors, the art teacher, music teacher … ten people in this building you have tormented and tortured for 149 days. I’m done. . . . You’ve been ignorant, selfish, self-absorbed, the whole thing. I’m done . . . He has made every wrong choice possible and he has had more help to make right choices and he has chose not to. So you guys think, is that somebody you want to be with?”
The class responds with a loud “Noooooo!” which Woodward follows with “See, your friend doesn’t want to be with you.” Nice.
The parents had heard complaints from Gabriel so they sent him to class with a hidden tape recorder. They ended up capturing the bizarre scene. For a tape recording of the scene, click here.
The Indiana State Teachers Association is protesting, saying suspension was improper and that the school did not hear Woodward’s side. Hmmmm. As an educator, I am not sure what that other side would be. With the exception of an evil twin, I cannot imagine a context where such conduct would be viewed as permissible. I am very sympathetic with the problem. Woodward appears to have a flawless record of 13 years of service and this may have been an atypical breakdown of judgment. Children with such behavior problems can be a terrible disruption and frustration. For those of us who teach on the graduate level, we rarely have to deal with such problems. However, that is part of the job and this is rather obvious abuse. Teaching young children requires a huge amount of restraint and care. None of that is apparent on the tape.
For the full story, click here