Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What was the Declo teacher thinking?

    This letter is in response to a recent article entitled “Teacher who had kids mark faces to return.”
    Childhood experiences that are heavily charged with emotion, such as humiliation, remain in the cellular memory until released through effective methods. This I know for certain, after counseling clients for more than 20 years and seeing it first-hand.
    Mrs. Larsen, the teacher in Declo, Idaho, who invited students to use markers on the faces of classmates who failed to meet their reading goals, didn’t even get her hands slapped for her action—“no formal discipline.”  Instead, her contract was renewed, by the Cassia County School District, as if nothing had happened.  
    Meanwhile, Cindy Hurst’s 10-year-old son came home from school, humiliated, with his entire face, including eyelids, scribbled on with colored markers. What were you thinking Mrs. Larsen?
    The challenge this child is having with reading should be compassionately addressed thorough caring, kindness and respect, not with behavior that deflates his already-delicate self-esteem. Teachers’ education needs to include emotional literacy prior to becoming a lasting role model in a child’s life. My heart goes out to these children who at some level had to have felt embarrassment and disgrace.
    They may not have the words for the feelings, but the energy remains in the body. Put yourself in their moccasins Mrs. Larsen. What are you teaching these children?
Alexandra Delis-Abrams, Ph.D.
Wood River Valley

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