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April 26, 2008


Amy Sorensen

When I was a teacher, I struggled with this SO much. I had many of my "good" students who would come and ask me that question: "Can't you do something about them?" And holy cow, it is SO difficult, but as a teacher you know you've ended up failing everyone.

I think that part of the solution needs to come in how students are assigned to classes. Now, it's done fairly randomly. I think if there were more attention paid to personalities within classes, it would help. Some high-achieving students are the BEST classroom disciplinarians.

Another part of the problem is that there really aren't many consequences that teachers can place on the obnoxious and rude kids. Like...kick them out of class? That's a reward. Call their parents? Plenty of them could care less. Send them to the principal? The students don't care.

Part of the solution really is smaller class sizes. I had a few very small classes---like 14-16 kids---and even the obnoxious kids were much more manageable with that size of class.

And part of it has to be getting to the root of those kids' problems, rather than sending them to the principal's office. They're acting that way for a reason. What amazed me was how many parents had given up by the time high school arrived, and acted like "whatever, I can't control him/her." Having been a frustrating teenager myself, I see this as a tragedy, because what they NEED is for their parents to stick in there with them. Even when they're acting like shitheads, you know??? At least, that's my puffy-cloud dream.

Amy Sorensen

ps, sorry for that gynormous response!


This kind of behavior becomes evident even with primary-age students. Foul language, disrespect, violence are all there even in kindergarten at our school. By fourth grade, the numbers have increased. Most of the students know what they're in school for, but the critical mass of obnoxious, needy frightened, lost children make themselves known. And middle school? High school? It continues to get worse. I don't know if I'd choose to teach anymore if I had a choice.


Hi there, been lurking on your blog for quite some time and love it. This article struck a chord with me because I have been on both sides of this fence. I was the "student" in the back making a racket and heckling with all my punk rock friends until my junior year. I am still unsure what changed in me, but that year I straightened up in school and actually started to like my classes and subsequently started sitting up front and actually caring. I remember feeling like an ass for ever disrupting a class once the tables were turned. I obviously had no room to talk though so I just sat there frustrated and never told anyone to STFU. I really feel weird about segregating the problem kids from the studious ones though. I think my grades would have plummeted further had I been forced out when I was being a pain in the ass, I already felt like I was given up on, that would have just nailed it home. Thanks for the link to this article, I will definitely be pondering this, also makes me feel even better about our decision to unschool.

Blue Like the Sky

We are finally coming to terms with the reality that the public school system which served us fairly well years ago (we're older than you, but not wiser..), the one that was behind all of our pro-public-school rhetoric, simply does not exist. At least not around here.

The result? I - the person who always said she'd NEVER put her child into private school - is 90% sure she's going to put her 8-year-old daughter into a true Montessori program, one that goes through 8th grade, next year.

Un/Home schooling isn't a realistic choice for us, either in terms of temperament or geography. I applaud all of you who do it and do it so well.

magpie ima

You raise hard questions. My program is voluntary so the students who show up generally really want to be there. Not so with public school. When they have to be there and see no relevance in what they're required to do there's bound to be trouble.


I wish it was possible to offer public schooled kids a more relaxed approach to learning... the ability to learn a certain skill when they're ready and to focus on their individual strengths and weaknesses as needed. I'm afraid that Montessori is probably one of the few systems where that actually works to a certain degree.

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