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BOTD 05-17-2017 See You, Auntie! A Kat Production

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Skater

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Bransom Postmaster
See You, Auntie
A Kat Production

You are the vice principal at Chenault Middle School. One of your sixth grade teachers, Mrs. Willis, is elderly and rather naive, even after years in the trenches. As you are patrolling the halls between classes, you hear one of her students, Rick Smith (age 12), say as he leaves, "See you, Auntie!" Mrs. Willis smiles sweetly at him. You nab Rick and tell him to go to your office and wait. Then you ask Mrs. Willis if she knows why Rick said that to her. She tells you that ENTIRE class calls her 'Auntie' as a term of endearment.

Rick Smith - 12
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Do you explain to Mrs.Willis that 'See you, Auntie' is a sneaky way of spelling out C-U-N-T? Do you punish Rick? Do you punish the whole class? If so, how? You have the usual range of remedies, including paddling.


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David M. Katz

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Marshall
Of course Rick is going to deny everything especially since Mrs. Willis allowed herself to be called "Auntie."  I will accept Rick's plausible deniability - this time. Rick is on notice.

I will explain things to Mrs. Willis and then ask her to stop allowing the use of "Auntie."  I am ok with a bit of informality and so if she wants such a thing then the students can refer to her as "Mrs. (insert first name here.)"

I will meet with her class and make students aware that the term "Auntie" is no longer to be used.

**BTW, I know Rick knows what he was doing but the teacher created a way for Rick to feign innocence.  Now Rick knows I know.


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18Smacked

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Cowboy
I think Dave has nailed my thinking here.

Good job, Dave! cheers

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AFinch

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Sherrif
I'm as naive as Mrs. Willis. I didn't get it until it was explained here.
But having been made aware, Rick and the rest of the kids are now on notice. He has plausible deniability, so no punishment. This time.

Adric

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Cowboy
AFinch wrote:I'm as naive as Mrs. Willis.  I didn't get it until it was explained here.
Neither did I, but I get it now that it has been explained.  I go along with the concensus - the class is getting away with it up until now, but not in the future.

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StevieWeeks

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Trailboss
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ivor

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Marshall
Likewise I personally didn't get it, but as the Principal in this scenario I am going to have to arrange to go to that class next time they are with Mrs Willis, ask her to leave the room for a couple of minutes, and inform them this is no longer acceptable. It would be unfair to pick on the individual I caught.

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db105

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Trailboss
Dave's answer works for me too.

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Jack

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Admin
This is really complex.

These are 11 and 12-year old kids. I'm willing to bet most of them haven't really thought about it, beyond that they're getting away with something, and that there might even be a few who don't know what they're doing (only doing it because 'everyone else does').

On the other hand, it doesn't matter how many kids are running in the hall, creating a disturbance, throwing wet towels in the bathroom - the ones who get caught are the ones who get punished.

I'm going to remind Rick what the punishment for this kind of thing is (and abusive language towards the staff, which this could be considered, can be a pretty high consequence) and let him sweat that a bit. In the end, I'm going to accept his (at least I presume he will) assertion of innocence).

Other than that, I agree with David. I will talk to the class and let them know that not only is it unacceptable, but we'll talk about why language that derides and attacks a group of people is wrong and inappropriate, even if you're being sneaky about it.

PS - looking back at the picture, Rick has obviously been up to something, so I think I'll take him back to my office after all.


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MemoryMan

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Sherrif
Personally I didn't get it either.  Obviously as the omniscient VP I did, - but am I sure Rick did?

Since the class call her Auntie (and she allows it) anyway this could be innocent.

No harm was done on this occasion but I am now AWARE and I will be keeping a close watch.

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Adric

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Cowboy
Major Injustice - This thread reminds me of something I heard about when I was in elementary school.  I have no direct knowledge so I don't know if it is true, but here's what I heard:

You weren't supposed to speak a "foreign language" at school, only English.  If you were heard speaking, for example, Spanish, then it was assumed that you were saying something very indecent and you were saying it in Spanish so that the teacher would not know what the insult was.

I could imagine the terror of going to school with only the slightest knowledge of English, accidentally saying a few words in my own native language, and getting sent to the principal's office for "swearing at a teacher". Crying or Very sad

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Kat

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Editor Extraordinaire
Call me a cynic, but I don't believe for a second these kids don't know what they are doing. I think Jack is probably right, in that they haven't really thought about the ugliness of it. At that age, it's just a funny, long-standing joke.

However, I'll give Rick a chance to answer for himself. I'm going to start by asking him if he knows why I sent him to my office. Most sixth graders aren't disingenuous enough to say no unless they mean it. If he does say no, I want him to explain to me how Mrs. Willis came to be 'Auntie'. Calling a teacher 'Auntie' isn't usual. I'll warn him I intend to ask Mrs. Willis, as well. I don't see a lot of plausible deniability in 'See you, Auntie', which has been around long enough that I recognized it.

If Rick has a story and sticks to it, I won't punish him. If he confesses to knowing the hidden meaning of 'See you, Auntie', he will have a choice between detention or two swats.

As for the rest of the class -- I will take Ivor's suggestion and see them together. I will ask if anyone didn't participate or didn't understand what was going on. The remainder will have the same option as Rick: detention or two swats. I will suggest the class write her letters of apology, but I won't insist. Anyone choosing detention will spend that detention writing an essay about the connection between actual respect and respectful language.

As much as I hate to disillusion Mrs. Willis, I think she really has to know what her class has been doing.

Kat

Kat

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Editor Extraordinaire
Adric wrote:You weren't supposed to speak a "foreign language" at school, only English.  If you were heard speaking, for example, Spanish, then it was assumed that you were saying something very indecent and you were saying it in Spanish so that the teacher would not know what the insult was.

I know this has been a policy in some US schools historically. The Robert Caro biography of LBJ describes how Johnson, while teaching in Cotulla, Texas, would spank the boys in his school if he heard them speaking Spanish. The girls received a tongue-lashing. I also had a high school teacher who had taught in El Paso in the 1940s, who laughingly described giving detentions to kids who spoke Spanish; many of the kids would then request swats in lieu of the detention.

In some instances, the Spanish-ban probably was based in paranoia. I'm willing to believe at least some teachers/schools thought they were helping the Spanish-speaking students master English. Regardless of motive, it was a cruel and counterproductive policy.

The US is not the only country to ban the use of students' native language. I researched (but didn't write) a story about the use of the "Not" or "Note" in Wales. This was usually a piece of wood with cord attached so it was worn around the neck. The first child to speak in Welsh was required to wear it. When another child slipped up, the first could hand it off. The child still wearing it at the end of the day was punished. The Welsh Not

Kat

Y Lee Coyote

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Deputy
Punishing one out of the class when the Auntie says they all do it is most unreasonable.  Do the girls also say it?

The class needs a lesson in manners and common courtesy but as vice principal I have to understand what young teens think is funny.  Class lecture  and a warning.

Assuming the lad's smile is related to the greeting is also unfair.  Kids smile a lot.

Shamefully, the prohibiting use of one mother's tongue shows up in the history of both US and Canada schools for Native Americans so it not such a stretch for Spanish.

Y.

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Kat

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Editor Extraordinaire
Y Lee Coyote wrote:Punishing one out of the class when the Auntie says they all do it is most unreasonable.  Do the girls also say it?
Y.

While my answer does deal with the entire class, punishing the one the VP catches is not unreasonable. It's unfair, but dem's the breaks. How many people receive traffic citations versus how many people commit moving violations? The excellent chance people have of escaping punishment for wrongdoing is the reason why punishment fails to be an effective deterrent.

If the class has girls, which is almost certain in a public middle school, they have been saying it also, unless Mrs. Willis was being hyperbolic when she said all of the class does it. My experience with middle school girls suggests they would be enthusiastic participants. Any girls who participated should receive the same punishment as the boys.

Kat

Emlyn Morgan

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Trailboss
I'm going to whack them!

squarecutter

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Sherrif
I agree with the rest Rick is on notice and so will all his classmates after I have spoken to them. We will draw a line under this"faux pas" of Rickys.

Y Lee Coyote

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Deputy
Kat wrote:While my answer does deal with the entire class, punishing the one the VP catches is not unreasonable. It's unfair, but dem's the breaks. How many people receive traffic citations versus how many people commit moving violations?

The situations are NOT equivalent. In the traffic case, the group size is millions and only a few are guilty. With the class the group size is 20-30, all identified and available.

If Auntie had not stated "the entire class does it", then punishing just one would be reasonable.

Y.

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Kat

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Editor Extraordinaire
Y Lee Coyote wrote:
Kat wrote:While my answer does deal with the entire class, punishing the one the VP catches is not unreasonable. It's unfair, but dem's the breaks. How many people receive traffic citations versus how many people commit moving violations?

The situations are NOT equivalent.  In the traffic case, the group size is millions and only a few are guilty.  With the class the group size is 20-30, all identified and available.

If Auntie had not stated "the entire class does it", then punishing just one would be reasonable.

Y.

No analogy is perfect, but the principle is the same. The person who gets caught is the person who is punished. As the administrator, you have clear evidence of Rick's guilt because you witnessed it with your own eyes and ears.

If you attempt to impose a group punishment, then you have to deal with second best evidence, which is why I would ask the whole class if anyone denies participating. Some may lie, but peer pressure to be honest is pretty strong.

Relying on Mrs. Willis is dangerous because human memory sucks. She may well remember everyone doing it, when a handful didn't. In my experience with substitute teachers, a note that says the whole class was rowdy means most of the class was rowdy. There is even a possibility that the ones doing it are a fairly small group.

Letting everyone off, including Rick, whom you caught in the act, is your choice. It's not an unreasonable one. But neither is punishing the one kid you caught in the act unreasonable. It's unfair in a cosmic justice sort of way, but not in the real world application of justice. You aren't singling Rick out for punishment because of his race, his sex, his religion, etc. There is nothing personal in punishing him. He just happens to be the unlucky kid you caught. He isn't less guilty because the other guilty kids caught a break.

Kat

MemoryMan

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Sherrif
MemoryMan wrote:Personally I didn't get it either.  Obviously as the omniscient VP I did, - but am I sure Rick did?

Since the class call her Auntie (and she allows it) anyway this could be innocent.

No harm was done on this occasion but I am now AWARE and I will be keeping a close watch.

So much discussion.

This is a situation that has caused no harm and would most wisely be noted, but ignored - unless it escalated.

In my view it is yet another case of adults picking up on children's transient lavatory humour and demonising it by sticking a PC label on it as a precursor to draconian action.

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