How to recognised a disturbed teacher?(24 Posts)
*I'm new to this site - I posted this on a different thread but this one seems more appropriate*
My 14 year old daughter goes to a selective girls grammar school. Up until recently, shes always been happy at school highly motivated and a hard worker and tended to get top marks in most subjects. Shes also quite modest so would never brag about this. She has a close circle of friends who mean a lot to her. Her English teacher in Years 7 and 8 was sacked and a new teacher came in Year 9. He, apparently, is very charismatic (teaches drama also) but after 2 months of his lessons, my daughters getting very depressed. The content of his lessons is all doom and gloom nuclear war, end of the world, torture, death sentences There really seems to be no end to his distressing topics. He coyly warns his pupils at the beginning of each lesson: Dont get upset, but . The most disturbing thing is when he told his class about when he attended the funeral of a previous pupil of his (their age) who had committed suicide due to depression. Apparently he was so moved he sat down on a bench and wrote a poem about her! This seems like very bizarre and inappropriate behavior to me how can a teenagers suicide be turned into an anecdote that hinges upon his creative powers as a poet? The thing that worries me most is I discovered a letter (on my desktop so possibly she wanted me to see it) from my daughter to the teacher. Shes usually really polite but in this letter she lets rip shes fed up of his chats and takes offense that he tells her she is too intelligent for her (very close) friends and that she ought to consider the implications of socialising with those who are her intellectual inferiors. I dont know if she sent this letter. But I feel this teacher is transgressing the boundaries of normal, teacherly behaviour and I sense him as a threat to my daughters (and other girls in her class) well-being. I know in advance that any approach I might make to the Head of English will be fobbed off. Am I over- or under-reacting? Id appreciate any suggestions as to what to do. Thanks.
Based on what you have said here it does seem inappropriate for a teacher. If you really think the head of english won't listen make an appointment to see the head teacher and raise your concerns in person.
Sounds weird. Do any of the other girls in your dds class have concerns about him.Do other parents have strong opinions about him and his teaching methods?
Maybe have a word with Head of English or form tutor?
Take the letter to the head of pastoral care.
I have no particular issue with the content of the curriculum - I recall spending terms on that sort of thing, however, from her response, he seems to be dealing with it in a potentially inappropriate way.
And the guff about her intellectual inferiors sounds like he is trying to groom her.
And I am the least paedo hysteria person on the planet.
Go. Call them.
If nothing else, the school need to know how he is discussing suicide with a bunch of impressionable teens. Tis a fine line between intellectual masturbation and glamourisation of inappropriate topics at that age.
Contact the HOY ask to see the scheme of work and lesson plans for your DDs year/set. If they contain the gloom and doom themes ask why and if not ask WTF is teacher doing that. Is she year 9?
The fact that a teacher was sacked and they have got another lousy one sets the alarm bells ringing tbh. If it is true about telling your DD she is hanging around with inferiors he should get the sack IMO. If you get no joy with the HOY/Head of Department make an appointment with the Head taking your DD's book/other evidence with you.
I would emphatically second the need to take the letter your dd wrote seriously, and listen very carefully to what she is saying.
Whatever the motivation behind his behaviour in doing this it is making her uncomfortable. That alone is worth listening to and dealing with. I don't know who would be the best person in the school to go to, Head of year, Head of Pastoral care or Head - but on past record and because it isn't specifically about the curriculum i would avoid head of English.
As to the curriculum choices and his telling them about the death of a former pupil and the poetry, he sounds totally immature. Has he taught in a boys school before, I wonder? People seem to categorise boys as loving all this gloomy creepy death stuff, maybe he thinks it will capture their attention? Anyway, i would include the poem incident in your report to whoever you tell.
But yes, tell someone.
Well done to your dd for being able to be so clear about her feelings, feeling 'fed up' and taking offence. She has identified something that makes her feel uncomfortable and is standing up for herself and being assertive.
I would also raise this with head of year, using your daughter's letter and the other things she has told you.
I agree with madwoman, sounds worryingly like an attempt at grooming to me - trying to separate her from friends and flattering her that she is "special" to him so she is a softer target. Though thankfully your DD is too shrewd to fall for it.
Take this to head of year, they are in charge of pastoral care. This is too serious to take to her tutor.
Talk to your daughter about the letter first. Then explain to her that you will be talking to the head of year/safeguarding officer at the school and why. If it were an academic issue the Head of English would be the appropriate person, but not for this. I agree it is worrying, I am an English teacher myself and I would not have a problem with using some of that content from time to time but not relentlessly and certainly not the teenage suicide poem. Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society is NOT a good role model for an English teacher.
He may be a paedophile consciously trying to groom her or he may be a dangerously naive person who is living out his own dreams of Dead Poets Society (I had a teacher of the dangerously naive type once). Either way he could be a threat to vulnerable pupils who have less sense and maturity than your daughter. I would explain that I saw the letter, tell her that you are very proud and reassured that she has the instinct to spot inappropriate behaviour and that you agree with her that there is something dodgy here. And then set up a meeting with the head of year.
I've taught about nuclear war for year 9 English - there's a fab but grim novel called 'Brother In The Land' by Robert Swindells. Quite dated now, though.
& I also do a Speaking & Listening assessment on the death penalty, for which we watch 'Dead Man Walking'.
So I wouldn't be too concerned re: the syllabus.
(Although I would leaven mine with 'Much Ado About Nothing' in between the two doom'n'gloom units above...)
The bizarre over-sharing in class & the inappropriate little chats OTOH - no, I wouldn't like the sound of that one litle bit.
Second suggestions to talk to whoever's in charge of pastoral care, & if they don't clear it up to your satisfaction, HT.
Thanks, all, for your advice. The last thing I wanted to do was to overreact, often done in this era of witch hunts. So it's v. helpful to get your views. Will certainly act on your advice. Daughter off school today (says she's fed up with the place - I suspect she's avoiding a double English lesson) & we've agreed to write up a list of everything that disconcerts her and her friends. Will then go in & brave the HOY! R
That sounds like a good strategy relat. At least she is talking to you about it. Try and keep everything open between you and your dd. good luck with the HOY. I agree that his behaviour is something that needs looking into.
Glad you've managed to talk to your daughter. Do you know any other Mums of children in the class? Obviously the main concern is your daughter, but it won't do any harm asking other parents if they've had any feedback over the lessons. If you have a pastoral support in the school, then speak to the relevant person, show them the letter and explain you are concerned how it's affecting your daughter. If not Head of Year or perhaps the Deputy Head. It might be that in your daughter's particular year it's part of the curriculum to go over these subjects, but you want clarity on how far examples go.
One teacher sacked and another behaving inappropriately? I'd be really concerned about the quality of staff selection in this school. Are you happy with the rest of the teachers?
DD's in Y9. So far this year her English syllabus hasn't been particularly happy clappy, and has tussled with difficult and distressing subjects BUT...... Not like this.
I have shown her your op and she says no, what they've done so far hasn't been like that, and it sounds like this teacher is not presenting subjects in a way which is sensitive to his pupils. Clubbing seals, in a way.
DD also said that if he's been saying those things to your dd then it's very inappropriate. Obviously, it is. It does look like early grooming. Separation from friends kind of thing resulting in isolation and vulnerability.
Teachers should not be saying to a particular pupil that they are oh so much cleverer than others. They should be emphasising what they have in common, trying to build cohesion in a group and so on. What he's doing does sound very odd and rather misguided.
Do you know where he taught before? Why he left?
If your dd has got to the point that she doesn't want to attend a lesson at all, then you do need to do something. Good luck.
Definately something amiss - he shouldn't be 'sharing' his issues with pupils at all.
Hope this isn't misleading but I doubt he's grooming your DD - abusers tend to go for vulnerable victims. Sounds like your DD is far from it.
Meant to say she sounds far from vulnerable - with strong, involved and supportive family - just what abusers don't want.
Mm, I think I kind of mean that he's identified her as a pet project because of her strength and ability, maybe? So he might not be targeting her as a possible victim, because in his head he is the one to help her realize her greatness, blah blah blah. So he doesn't see himself as an abuser, more an enabler of great things. Whatever his own rationale, it ain't a healthy relationship that he is trying to forge.
I thought dead poet's as well, on reading op, he definitely comes across as someone who sees himself as something out of the ordinary, sensitive pied piper chap with a higher level of consciousness.
I suspect that it's no more than his fantasy of inspiring one of his pupils and seeing them in years to come, on tv, saying "I owe it all to Mr So-and-So who recognised my potential and encouraged me blah blah blah".
However, I still think that his telling her that she's more intelligent than her friends etc is divisive, not on, and needs to stop.
Well I would mention it to your DD first.The stuff in the letter might just be something she has made up.She wouldn' be the first teenage girl to do this.A friend of mine wrote a fantasy diary about a teacher which her mum found!
How old is he? I wonder if the teenager was his DC
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