Was I over the top about this?

(51 Posts)
Ledkr Thu 27-Feb-14 09:47:13

Ok so dd 12 was in trouble at school as she'd put some pink streaks in her hair that we then couldn't get out properly.
No problems, we know the rules.
However, her head of house is a 6ft4 male and he took her in his office and shouted at her so loudly that other children heard from the school hall and asked dd if she was ok.
She was shaking and sobbing when she got home.
She's been an exemplary pupil so far, never needed to be told off, does homework, plays for school teams, loves school.
So I've e mailed this teacher to tell him that I take a very dim view of him speaking to my daughter I that way.
As a dv survivor I feel it's important that my daughters know correct boundaries and behaviour between the sexes.
My husband or sons would never speak to me or my daughters in this way so I don't expect teachers to do so.
I've told him as much but I'm now worried I will come across as a raving militant.
I just feel if my husband screamed at me or dds to the point we were shaking with fear, he'd be out the bloody door.
What do you think?

expatinscotland Thu 27-Feb-14 09:48:16

YANBU.

Quangle Thu 27-Feb-14 09:49:39

I don't think this has anything to do with behaviour between the sexes and I don't think you should put that overlay on it.

If he spoke to her inappropriately that's an issue about the school and teaching and boundaries. It's not worse just because he's 6ft 4.

sooperdooper Thu 27-Feb-14 09:50:05

Would you feel the same if it had been a female teacher? I'm not sure this is a gender issue tbh

DontGiveAwayTheHomeworld Thu 27-Feb-14 09:54:08

YANBU, particularly as the situation was out of her control. It isn't your DDs fault she couldn't get her hair back to its regular colour! Considering her record, I think this teacher really overreacted. Why couldn't he just have a quiet word about it and ask her to dye over it/try and get the pink out by the next day or week or whatever? That's what they did when I was at school when I dyed my hair postbox red

DontGiveAwayTheHomeworld Thu 27-Feb-14 09:54:49

And YY not sure it's a gender issue.

HMG83 Thu 27-Feb-14 09:59:33

Would you be reacting the same if it was a 6'4" female teacher who'd reprimanded your DD?

Nocomet Thu 27-Feb-14 10:12:29

I agree it's not a gender issue. The DDs have a very imposing and strict female teacher.

I would feel equally obliged to complain if she used her full 'doing no work in Y11 voice' with a Y7 for something they had tried to put right.

Ledkr Thu 27-Feb-14 11:22:56

Thanks for replys, I did genuinely want some balance.

I don't think I would be as concerned if it were a female teacher simply because of the dv issue.
I guess I'm hyper sensitive due to my own experience.

I also work with children with behaviour issues and I would never shout at them like that.

I don't think you were unreasonable to complain. Is it a gender issue? I don't know. I think it's more of a bullying issue, tbh. A person using their position, as well as their superior size and volume, to intimidate someone weaker.

Would you have been equally as angry if this teacher had shouted at a 12 year old ds for the same reason? If so, then I'd suggest it's not a gender issue.

There's sort of something worrying about the dominant male / subordinate female dynamic, but to me that's more of a political analysis of an aspect of the power dynamics between the two people involved, rather than one that is specifically to do with what's wrong with this situation.

No, I think it's a bullying problem.

So in terms of what to do about it, I think if I were in your shoes I'd be approaching my complaint from the perspective that the teacher was unnecessarily intimidating and aggressive given the minor nature of the offence and your dd's otherwise blameless conduct, rather than emphasising the dv element.

meditrina Thu 27-Feb-14 11:45:16

Unless the teacher was really reckless, then the office door would be open. So being able to hear what was said from outside the room might not indicate anything unreasonable at all.

When dealing with a school, I think it is always best to take 'DD is upset and i am concerned. Please could you tell me what happened from your point of view' as the first line of enquiry. Whatever the age and previous record of the pupil.

Ledkr Thu 27-Feb-14 11:51:31

The door was shut, which did concern me!

SwayingBranches Thu 27-Feb-14 12:09:29

I don't think you were over the top at all. A 6 foot 4 inch male yelling at a 12 year old girl until she's shaking was completely inappropriate, both in a normal teacher pupil relationship and in a world where male violence against both other males and females is the norm.

There is no point comparing this to a 6 foot 4 inch female because female violence is not endemic and thus not comparable.

Discipline through fear is poor discipline. Especially for such a small transgression.

Quangle Thu 27-Feb-14 12:23:44

I think the point is any teacher reducing a pupil to a shivering wreck is unacceptable - if that is what happened it's not on.

He can't actually help his height though - or indeed his gender. And that shouldn't be an additional consideration "against him" as it were. Otherwise you'd have male teachers feeling unable to dole out discipline - particularly to girls and even more particularly to petite girls - and female teachers having to turn into complete cows to compensate for their lack of physical dominance.

I think to the OP though I would just treat this as an incident you very much need to find out more about and get to the bottom of. Find out what the school say and take it from there. I wasn't clear from the OP whether she had raised the DV history in her complaint but if she hasn't already, I wouldn't. I would just treat this as a "what happened here and why was this deemed appropriate?" discussion.

Hope DD is ok now.

meditrina Thu 27-Feb-14 12:29:39

A shut door is definitely inappropriate.

I suppose I'm aiming off a bit because the child with a long record of impeccable behaviour can so easily crumble when receiving first big telling off. And I know (the hard way) that a even a truthful account can contain key omissions which mean the overall impression given is very much at odds with the actual event. That's why I would now always begin with an enquiry, and like the way quangle has phrased an opening question.

DoctorTwo Thu 27-Feb-14 14:01:08

If a teacher, any teacher, had made any of my DCs cry rather strong words would be had and a letter of complaint sent to the head.

FloraFox Thu 27-Feb-14 15:34:38

Of course it's a feminist issue. Unlike a 12 year old boy, your DD will never grow up to be strong enough to physically withstand or challenge a violent 6'4 man so the dynamic is totally different. Fear of male violence makes women moderate their behaviour in society. This man is teaching your daughter to conform or be scared of the consequences. I would complain.

Nocomet Thu 27-Feb-14 16:14:49

I think if there is a gender issue at all it's over the reason your DD was in trouble.

Both me and the DDs find it's always male teachers who go OTT about minor uniform infringements. Yes our senior mistress moaned, but you always got the feeling she only moaned because she had to.

I think some men just fall into a suit and tie from birth and simply can't understand why anyone wouldn't just meekly do likewise.

Callani Thu 27-Feb-14 16:32:26

I think that gender does come into it if the teacher was purposefully using his large size, stature and voice to scare your DD.

It may be that he was not aware of the effect of it as men (particularly 6ft4 men) don't seem to realise how intimidating it can be to feel powerless - however he needs to be made aware of this and he definitely needs to know that shut doors are not acceptable.

ArtetasSwollenAnkle Thu 27-Feb-14 16:43:57

Unless, he gew up to be 5 ft 4 and 9 stone, eh, Flora? Or do you think all boys grow up to be 6 ft plus and 16 stone? And some women do grow over 6 ft, and some are well capable of withstanding intimidation - Nicola Adams? Do you live in a society where everyone is the same?

Ffs.

In my own personal experience of life, I've found that men are socialised to think of themselves as capable of physically standing up for themselves, large stature being merely an advantage. Whereas women are taught that we are weak and vulnerable. Just a thought really, don't know if it's relevant. But, y'know, chuck it in.

K8Middleton Thu 27-Feb-14 16:52:07

He was unprofessional.

I think his size and sex are relevant if he used them to intimidate her. This is unlikely if he was sitting down but shouting is unacceptable. He should be modelling good behaviour.

I don't think ywbu.

FloraFox Thu 27-Feb-14 17:02:57

Artetas we both live in a society where men are overwhelmingly larger and stronger than women and where women as a class are oppressed by the actual or perceived threat of male violence. Many women are actually subject to male violence, other women moderate their behaviour to avoid it. For many women, especially women who are not personally suffering from direct male violence, it is often easier to deny that to confront the reality. I would not want my DD learning from her teacher that non-conformity leads to aggression and intimidation from a man she will never possibly be able to withstand. I would not tell her that it is her responsibility to withstand intimidation.

TheCrackFox Thu 27-Feb-14 17:16:12

He sounds like a total dock TBH.

He should be reminded that 12yr olds are still actually children and he should bare that in mind when shouting at them.

TheCrackFox Thu 27-Feb-14 17:16:51

Dick even. Stupid auto correct.

StickEmUpBigStyle Thu 27-Feb-14 17:31:16

One of my school teachers (male) told me if he ever saw me out pf a hool he would teach me a lesson. I was a naughty pupil.

I went to the head myself, no one ever mentioned it again

ArtetasSwollenAnkle Thu 27-Feb-14 17:31:41

This is a teacher - pupil dynamic, not a personal relationship dynamic. It is completely different to a parent/child or domestic partner relationship. Any violence from a teacher to a pupil will end with the teacher losing his job and most likely going to jail. So please don't come out with DV situations and try to apply them here, because it won't wash. I would not expect a 12 year old boy to be in any better position to stand up to this either.

And don't try to make out I am defending him either. The man is a bully and/or an idiot, and deserves to be reprimanded as seen fit by his superior. I think the OP's reaction is correct. There is nothing raving or militant about standing up for someone else against bullying.

StickEmUpBigStyle Thu 27-Feb-14 17:34:18

School not a hool

Quangle Thu 27-Feb-14 17:36:20

I know where you are coming from flora but another way of describing it might be that breaking school rules leads to shouting from a teacher (who in this case is very big).

I wouldn't go the "intimidation" and "male aggression" route because I think it would not be helpful to frame it this way unless that is indisputably what happened in which case we have a massive issue. If he was deliberately using his size and maleness to terrify her then that's a child protection issue. If he was a teacher getting cross and losing his rag at her then I think it should be kept at that level - teacher / pupil level.

It makes me uneasy to think of a child being offered a view of such events in these terms. I don't think they would have the maturity to deal with it. Teacher/pupil suffices because it already should not have happened in that framework and the OP should be able to resolve it on that level unless evidence suggests this was deliberate intimidation.

FloraFox Thu 27-Feb-14 18:05:20

Art the OP posted in FWR because she presumably wanted a feminist perspective on the topic, I don't need you to tell me what I should or should not "come out with". I'm not talking about DV, I'm talking about broader oppression of women based on male violence or fear of male violence. Men using aggression and intimidation to enforce compliance is unacceptable in general. There is an added level of unacceptability where this is directed at women and girls as it reinforces the societal imbalance of power between men and women.

HighBrows Thu 27-Feb-14 18:11:42

Even if a female teacher did this to one of my kids I'd be very upset. Neither myself nor my kids have ever had a domestic violence situation. You are not being unreasonable, male or female, dv or not this teacher was bang out of line. I hope your daughter is ok.

ArtetasSwollenAnkle Thu 27-Feb-14 18:33:06

Anyone using aggression against anyone else is unacceptable. It's a pity to you can't address that, Flora, rather than turn it into another men-vs-women debate. Everyone else seems to see that except you.

<puts hand up>

I see Flora's point very clearly.

I agree that in our society, the dynamics of power between males and females mean that the inequality that you'd expect to find in a teacher-pupil relationship is exacerbated if the teacher is male and large and the pupil is small and female. I also agree it's a microcosm of male-female interactions more generally, because I think there's always a threat (however small) that a man might just become verbally or physically threatening. Whereas I don't think men assume a woman will, even though some do.

But I can think this and still reckon that bringing this political analysis up during a conversation about appropriate behaviour by teachers at school would probably harm the OP's argument mostly because the school will think she is a loon

FloraFox Thu 27-Feb-14 18:48:41

Thanks buffy.

art not sure what you're on about TBH. I said it is unacceptable against anyone but has a particularly problematic context when it is large man v small girl. Since it's a discussion and not a show of hands, I'm not particularly concerned with whether a group of people (who may or may not even be feminists of any sort) agree with me.

If this happened to my DD, I probably would say to the school that it is particularly unacceptable for a grown man to do this to a girl, as my DM would have done had it happened to me. Shame there are people who still think this is raving militancy.

Quangle Thu 27-Feb-14 18:58:28

No I don't think it's raving militancy. But I'm also not sure that's this was an event like that (I'm sure those events do happen but I'd have thought less often between teacher and pupil where the relationship is already power-skewed than between supposed equals where the man wants to assert dominance - but that's another story). My main thought is that unless we know absolutely this dynamic was at the heart of it, I wouldn't bring it up but just leave it at the "it's unacceptable" stage.

OP are you getting anywhere with school?

FloraFox Thu 27-Feb-14 19:29:24

quangle I think whether or not this is a feminist issue depends on the impact on the DD, not the intentions of the teacher. Lots of men perpetuate patriarchal values without necessarily doing it intentionally. That doesn't make it okay.

Men who say "smile, love" or give unwelcome compliments to strangers often think they are just being friendly. That doesn't change the entitlement that leads to the comments nor the reminder to the recipient that she is sex class and open to male gaze and male entitlement.

If this was posted on AIBU, I wouldn't comment but the OP is asking on FWR presumably because she feels there is something she should be concerned about at a feminist level. I'm not going to brush it off because we don't know what the teacher was thinking or intending or because some people think the offence caused by calling behaviour sexist seems to be worse than the continuation of sexist behaviour towards 12 year old girls and telling them that the fear of male violence is something they must withstand.

Ledkr Thu 27-Feb-14 19:49:06

I just spoke to him. He if course denies excessive shouting.
He pointed out that she "is a nervous girl" I said that if he knew that why would he feel the need to shout at her so loudly. He said he didn't think he did.
I said that she is not used to males being loud and aggressive as her brothers and father are not like that.
I said as a well behaved child I felt it was unnecessary to be so hard on her.
It was a bit if a waste if time really as he denied shouting but I guess at least I said my piece.

FloraFox Thu 27-Feb-14 20:02:01

Ledkr sounds like you dealt with this very well. Your DD will remember you stood up for her and that her boundaries and feelings are important so it wasn't a waste of time.

Ledkr Thu 27-Feb-14 20:08:03

Thanks flora. I just don't want her to think men behaving like this is the norm.
He must have been very ott because two other teachers have asked dd if she is ok and hinted that they think he was wrong!
I dropped into the conversation that I was a social worker and dh a cp copper grin

Teachers have always shouted at pupils. Sometimes they need to. Lots of pupils are very badly behaved. Speaking nicely and calmly to them sounds like a good idea, but sometimes it doesn't work. Also, it is quite hard to judge which pupils are just going to go 'meh' at being reprimanded and which ones are going to dissolve into tears. I made a boy cry a while back when I told him off. I'm a 5'6" woman, if that makes any difference. I did shout a bit, but he'd been an absolute pain all lesson. I had no intention of making him cry and was fairly astonished when he did.
Heads of Year deal with tons of kids day-in-day-out, many of whom are constantly pushing the boundaries. They also deal with tons of parents, who are often making excuses for their badly-behaved dc and not supporting the school's efforts to improve their behaviour. I realise that is not at all the case with your dd. Maybe this teacher was a bit harsh on this occasion, considering that your dd is normally an exemplary pupil. It's not his fault he's tall and male though. And it's not his fault thatthere are violent men out there either.
People who refer to teachers shouting at kids as 'bullying' or 'aggressive', I do wonder why you think teachers shout. And whether you think you'd manage not to sometimes in their shoes.
Apologies if I sound ranty - it's been a crap week at school...

Sorry - missed the bit where you said the other teachers said he was ott. He probably was then <winds neck back in>. Hope your daughter isn't still too upset OP.

olathelawyer05 Thu 27-Feb-14 23:22:38

"...Unlike a 12 year old boy, your DD will never grow up to be strong enough to physically withstand or challenge a violent 6'4 man so the dynamic is totally different."

So it would have been OK to shout at a 12 yr old boy?

"...I think his size and sex are relevant if he used them to intimidate her."

How do you use your sex to intimidate someone? You are conflating what someone 'feels' with what is actually 'happening' - You can 'feel' intimidated by a man, it doesn't mean he is using his maleness to intimidate you. This kind of thinking is your standard 'women good' / 'men bad' nonsense.

ArtetasSwollenAnkle Thu 27-Feb-14 23:48:04

There is a dynamic here of an adult (allegedly) behaving badly towards a child. Plenty of child abuse is carried out by women on children. Where does feminist theory fit in with that - or doesn't it care?

I am not saying all feminist theory is bollox. I am saying that shoe-horning it in when it isn't relevant to desperately try to fit your narrative weakens it for when it is appropriate. And sometimes - sometimes - it makes the feminist concerned look like she just wants to pick a fight with any man over anything. As ola says, 'women good/men bad'.

FloraFox Thu 27-Feb-14 23:55:47

So it would have been OK to shout at a 12 yr old boy?

Reading comprehension fail.

The other comment wasn't mine and I said the important issue is the impact, not the intention, so I won't address it other than to note your absurdity:

This kind of thinking is your standard 'women good' / 'men bad' nonsense.

Artesas now it looks like you are trying to pick a fight. Are you?

legoplayingmumsunite Thu 27-Feb-14 23:56:22

Teachers have always shouted at pupils. Sometimes they need to.

Really? I don't think adults ever NEED to shout at children to get their point across. Sure, as imperfect parents we all shout at our own children when we are exhausted or fed up at them but we all also know that it's not the best way to discipline a child. I would hope a teacher would be emotionally detached enough to remain professional at all times and NOT shout at a pupil, whatever the provocation. At work I would never shout at an employee, it would clearly be seen as losing control of the situation, and I don't see why a school should work to different rules.

Agree with all PPs that say best not to approach from a DV viewpoint but definitely think it probably had an effect on how upsetting it was for your DD to have a big man man shout at her for a minor transgression.

No. I would say teachers do notaalways 'remain emotionally detached enough' not to shout. It is not often necessary to shout when you are talking to an individual pupil (although that certainly happens sometimes), but shouting at a class or group of pupils happens a lot, I would say. Anyway, I think it would take some kind of saint to teach one's whole career in state secondaries and not lose one's cool occasionally.

And I never understand why people think that a pupil is in the same position as an employee. They aren't. They do not (and should not) have the same level of autonomy as an adult when they are one child in a huge group. There are rules imposed on them which you would never need to impose on individual adults in a company. Adults in a work setting hopefully do not generally display the kind of behaviour which would necessitate that kind of rule.

ReadyToPopAndFresh Fri 28-Feb-14 10:59:27

He is a bully, I'd expect because he was a 6'4 male he'd understand his presence in itself can be quite imposing. So kind of a gender issue, kind of not. But definitely a "get mum involved" issue and well done for speaking up for your daughter.

Flicktheswitch Fri 28-Feb-14 11:06:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

legoplayingmumsunite Fri 28-Feb-14 18:37:22

And I never understand why people think that a pupil is in the same position as an employee.

They aren't. They are more vulnerable. Which is why you shouldn't shout at them. In the same way that it is no more acceptable to hit a child than to hit an adult. I wouldn't get away with shouting at an adult in my workplace, why is it OK for you to shout at a child in yours?

What rules are you imposing on a child in a school that are not imposed on an adult at work? We have 'rules' (or company policies) about health and safety, ethical behaviour, equality, fraud, as well as more practical regulations on attendance, clothing, annual leave, sick leave etc.

The OP's daughter was shouted at for having the wrong hair colour. Admittedly we don't have rules about hair colour at work (although we do have clothing regulations for health and safety reasons and it's understood that people have to dress smartly when meeting customers) but I fail to see why some schools think it's necessary and it certainly isn't worth shouting for.

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