. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: On the Contrary

Sunday, December 6, 2009

On the Contrary

And now, allow me to introduce you to Melinda. Or, as I like to call her…

The Contrarian.

She is the fourth grader who is ALWAYS the opposite of everyone else.


Simply to BE the opposite.




During Art:

Me: So I've cut this shape for the head. What shape did I cut?

Class: An oval.

The Contrarian: A square. To ME, that looks like a square.

During Math:

Me: Now that we have the sum, let's check our work. What's the opposite of addition?

Class: Subtraction.

The Contrarian: Backwards Addition. Well, it literally is, right?

During Reading:

Me: A hyperbole is an exaggeration used to help paint a picture in the reader's mind. For example, when I say, "These shoes are killing me," am I really dying from wearing them?

Class: No!

The Contrarian: Yes, you could be dying and just not know it!

And thus it went, day in and day out...every topic.

So finally, I had reached my limit and so had my teaching partners. Sometimes, for sanity's sake, we all have to learn to go along with the herd at times.

I decided to call The Contrarian in during lunch and have a talk about what it means to be a "creative thinker" and what it means to be "a contrarian," and how the two are NOT the same thing. While there are times when The Contrarian's oppositeness leads to advanced thinking, more often than not though, she is simply trying to gain attention by being the opposite.

She is a master at parsing things very thinly and enjoys arguing with others. She'll dance the dance of the righteous all night long if you're willing to sing for her.

We, her teachers, were done singing and were now going to give her consequences if we find that she was purposely being a contrarian. This was all done with the blessings of the school psych, who was working with her on exactly these social skills.

And that, oddly enough, led us to scientifically prove that whole "apple not falling far from the tree" theory.

Not long after our talk, The Contrarian got her first consequence for her behavior.

Something funny was said in her Math class and everyone laughed…

But she didn't. She wildly shouted "LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL!" at the top of her lungs instead.

Her math teacher gave her a mark on the behavior chart. A mark is a warning and students get three warnings a week before they are excluded from Fun Friday as a consequence.

That afternoon, an email arrived from The Contrarian's mother asking for an explanation about the mark and
the teacher explained why it was given.

The mother replied by wanting to know what was wrong with shouting out LOL in class. It's a socially acceptable form of communicating laughter in the world of texting.

The teacher responded by saying that if he had been teaching the lesson via text, LOL would indeed have been acceptable, however he was not.

And the mother responded by saying that LOL is simply a modern form of laughter.

So the teacher explained that indeed, LOL, in and of itself, is not the real issue here, but it's the bigger issue of attention-seeking behaviors on her daughter's part that we would like to address. According to the school
psych, her daughter's impulsive behaviors and need to one-up everyone has led to her complete lack of friends. While we want to foster creativity and uniqueness in each and every one of our students, we all must try to fit in sometimes if we plan on living around others.

And the mother responded by saying that how her daughter chooses to laugh should not have an effect on how many friends she has.

(Has this woman ever BEEN around children?)

Again, the teacher reiterated his position that the WAY she laughed is only symptomatic of a larger issue.

And Mom asked if he was planning on letting the World Wide Web know that he had banned LOL from public use.

(Apple – Tree…VEEERRY Close Together.)

I see children inherit more than eye color from their parents.


The Honorable Mention said...

And this child's only friend must be...her mother? And this is her example....Ahem.
Well...There is a limit to what teachers can do, it's up to parents to listen.
At one point this child will be at the age of accountability-one can only hope something you said stuck in her mind...

Mister Teacher said...

I would have shouted COLON OPEN PARENTHESES at the parent. Maybe that verbal emoticon would have stressed my level of dismay with their attitude...

Anonymous said...

I LOL when I read this crazy blog on the contrarian. Unfortuntately, it is this crazy lunacy of "supportive parents" that drives normal (I mean qualified) teachers out of the classroom.

Nadia said...

Yikes. I am grinding my teeth just thinking about this happening All. The. Time.
Hopefully there's a solution out there.

Rebecca said...

Laugh out loud. I love it.