Inspired by Fiction?

February 13, 2009 at 8:03 pm Leave a comment

One of my seventh grade boys (who gets to be called Colt here, because I keep mentally describing him as “coltish”) has landed himself in deep poo.

He’s a nice boy with some problems. Unmedicated ADHD. Too smart for his own good, which leads to boredom in the classroom. Wants to be tough. Has (unfortunately for his wannabe toughness) auburn curls.

During first period, VP-7 came into my room and took Colt away. I didn’t think too much of it; Colt is one of those boys who gets pulled out of class. Later, it turns out that Colt never went back to any of his classes that day. Curious, his other teachers and I went to VP-7’s office for information.

Two days later, we finally got most of the story out of the administration (who were constrained by the ongoing investigation and privacy).

Colt brought a knife to school – bad enough, considering we have a zero-tolerance policy. That’s expulsion right there under most circumstances. Worse, he pulled it on a younger kid and pretended (or “pretended” – how would we know?) to threaten him. The kid reported Colt, and the rest was pretty clear-cut.

What bothers me is that I kind of think I know what Colt was thinking (inasmuch as a thirteen-year-old boy is ever thinking anything). See, we’re reading The Outsiders. He’s not in my reading class, but he would come in to my writing class and, given five minutes of spare time, grab one of my classroom copies and start reading it voraciously. If you don’t remember how the book goes, the relevant information is that it is full of tough, quasi-heroic young boys who carry switchblades.

Smart, bored boy gets hooked on a book filled with characters he’d love to resemble. He can’t teleport himself back to the 1960s, but he can walk with a swagger and a knife in his pocket.

Assuming it’s even the case, what’s the lesson? Don’t teach this book? I have to admit, I had my doubts about its appropriateness, but for the first time all year I think the kids are actually loving a book. What teacher in their right mind would take that away?

Meanwhile, Colt is suspended, almost certainly expelled, and quite possibly up on juvenile criminal charges. It’s a heart-breaker. We’d been trying really hard to help this kid… but I guess sometimes there’s no holding them back from the brink.



Ruining My Spring Semester Stimulated

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The Bee’s Knees

This is the teaching journal of a student first-year second-year THIRD-YEAR (!!!) English teacher. I am writing this blog as a reflection for myself, a way to keep friends and family updated, and a sharing-ground between other educators online. I love comments!

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