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BOTD 7/28/15 "Donald's Dickhead Carving" A Kat Production

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David M. Katz

A Kat Production

Your thirteen-year-old son Donald signed up for Art, which he thought would be an easy elective. It turned out to be much more work than he expected. He also does not get on well with the teacher, Mr. Hartford. When Mr. Hartford assigned the class to create a sculpture project, Donald decided to carve a wooden dowel to look like a penis; to add interest, he carved a face onto it. He presented it to the class with the title Dickhead. Mr. Hartford was not amused (though Donald’s classmates were).

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

You have just received a phone call from the assistant principal, Mr. Watson, who is in charge of disciplining 8th graders. He feels Donald deserves three swats for disruptive behavior, but Donald has refused the paddling on the grounds that Mr. Hartford’s assignment guidelines said nothing about the project being in good taste. If Donald doesn’t comply with the paddling, he’ll be given an off-campus suspension for three days, as the school district has a no-refusal policy on corporal punishment. Mr. Watson wants you “to talk some sense into Donald”.

What will you say?

Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.


I'm going to suggest Donald suck it up, and take his punishment. If he gets an out of school suspension, he can count on much worse.

I'm also going to suggest he go to law school and become one of those lawyers who advertises on the back of the telephone book. You know, the kind who represents people who sue manufacturers because the label on the pan didn't explicitly state not to pick up a griddle with your bare hands while it's sitting over a high flame

John Boy

Don't do the carving if you can't take the paddling

Y Lee Coyote

Mr. Hartford is incompetent.  He apparently does not know that art is supposed to be provocative and does not know how to get a group of boys to quiet down in class.  He missed a teaching opportunity on the subject.  What would happen if he had a field trip to a real art museum with lots of provocative stuff?

The no refusal about CP policy means that the school is acting in bad faith by asking the question.

This reminds me of my high school French class.  We had some story to translate about a wood cutter.  Many in the class broke up when the word 'faggot' happened describing wood.  The teacher was puzzled and someone explained.  It was over in a minute or less.

I think a visit to the Assistant Principal is in order to discuss the entire issue and question if my son is being picked on about this.



While there's much in YLee's assessment of potential teacher incompetence, I can't allow this to be too much of a distraction from the obvious fact that my 13 year old, (A) knew this would 'get a rise' out of this teacher, and (B) knew it was disrespectful from "go".

While I'm willing to have that discussion with Don after the fact, he knows he's already "in for it" for getting in trouble at school.  If he gets suspended for this it's going to be MUCH worse when he arrives home! Twisted Evil   Therefore take what's coming now and hope I'm more sympathetic when you get home.


I am quite sure there will be some catchall in the school rules about offensive behaviour and respect to teachers or other classmates, Were there girls in the class Were they amused or offended. Of course male 8th graders will think it funny. Then there is Donalds motivation. An easy elective? May be Mr Hartford merely wants the subject and himself to be treated with a little respect and has therefore made sure the course is a little more rigorous than Donald cares for.

I will be giving Donald fairly short shrift. If he wants suspension he will be getting more than 3 licks and plenty chores from me. I think he should take th licks and I shall seek a meeting with Mr Hartford where Donald can apologize and I can take the measure of the man for myself


I'm confident Donald knew what he was doing when he set out to create this carving. To me it equates to calling Mr Hartford a dick or dickhead in class, even if the method of delivery was somewhat more subtle.

I'm going to suggest to Donald that it would be in his best interest to take his licks as then he can put the episode behind him Embarassed Embarassed


Donald can make his choice, three from the VP or six from me............BARE

Pi Beta

Having succeeded in making himself something of a hero for his "artwork" with his fellow pupils, he should be delighted to take what's coming to him since that will just cement his hero status - refusing cp will lose him virtually all of the streed cred he's built up!

If you take risks, you must also be prepared to take the consequences! He needs to learn that and learn it quickly.

David M. Katz

I wish the teacher would have taken this as a teaching opportunity.

I sort of see another side of this.

Yes, I know absolutely what Donald was trying to do and he succeeded but this could have been turned around positively.

Why is it that the whole world seems shocked that males have a penis?  Maybe a classroom full of middle schoolers is not the right place for the revelation but genitalia in art is certainly not a new thing.

It reminds of this little sculpture that a guy named Mikey did:

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

When I was in Junior High School The David was featured in an Art History text book BUT a black bar was printed across the "offending" area.  That bothered me then and this reaction to Donald's work bothers me now.

I do not agree with Donald being punished for this with either a paddling or suspension.  

The teacher should have thrown it back at him and had a discussion about the history of genitalia in the arts.  I am not trying to compare Donald's stick carving to The David but there are some similarities. The obvious difference is that Michelangelo was not trying to get a giggle out of a bunch of pubescent teens.  However, let's face it, males have a penis and the penis has a valid place in art.

I guess I will put my soapbox away now.

I will tell the principal that I do not agree with either punishment.  It seems the project was done within the parameters of the assignment as there were no rules against genitalia being represented.  Bottom line is that my son did the project and I want it objectively evaluated and graded in terms of its artistic merit.  Now, as far as his little stunt then I think there is a great way to address that.

I will suggest that Donald be required to do an essay about his research on the use of genitalia in art.

I hope I do not have to pursue this to another level but, in my opinion, this does not rise to the level that the teacher or the principal want to take it.

Boys will be boys and boys have penises.  Deal with it.

Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.


Editor Extraordinaire
I have one question to ask Donald: what was your purpose in creating the Dickhead carving?

I can think of valid reasons for the subject; perhaps he meant it as satire or social commentary; perhaps it was even meant to be an example of kitsch or camp in art. If Donald can provide a reason with even a hint of artistic merit and integrity, I'll support him. I'll make his case to the assistant principal, and if necessary, allow him to take the suspension, which I'll appeal up the chain of command.

If, however, as I suspect, Donald's only reason for doing the carving was to get at his teacher, he'll either take his licks at school or I'll make sure he spends three days wishing he had.

For me, Donald's motivation is what matters here. I think the teacher and administrator could have handled the situation differently, but their response was not unreasonable. As a parent, I pick my battles with the school carefully. I'll support Donald if he deserves my support.



Editor Extraordinaire
I think I also have a question for Mr. Hartford: would his reaction have been the same if Donald had carved a nude figure but presented the project in a serious manner with an appropriate title?



Ditto Ivor.......,

Hugs kal

Emlyn Morgan

If I were the teacher I would accept Donald's carving as falling within the scope of a sculpture project if no further specification had been given.  Surely a penis has always been a legitimate subject for art.  Why would a teacher be surprised?  I'm surprised that the carving would cause any disruption.

Over here, of course, we have ancient chalk hillside carvings of white horses rampant, and the Cerne Abbas Giant.

CERNE ABBAS GIANT[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]


The principal and I are going to be having a talk about this. I want to know what the exact assignment was. It sounds like Donald followed the assignment. I also want a definition of 'disruptive behavior' that doesn't allow him to paddle any student with whom he disagrees.

The simple fact of the matter is that I'm unhappy with Donald, but I'm also unhappy with his teacher, and I'm definitely unhappy with the principal.

I do kind of agree with Kat and Y Lee. While I probably can't do anything about the teacher right now, I'm going to have to talk to Donald and the Principal before I make any final decision.

"In the end, it's just a story. But if you ask me, it's all true."

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