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to want to "have a word" with DT teacher

(104 Posts)
fait Thu 27-Sep-12 21:48:00

My year 7 DS is colour blind. He is useless at colouring things and even worse being creative with his hands. He has done DT for 4 years at his previous school and is keen, but totally useless - no matter how hard he tries.

For homework he created a poster which I had to print out. I was in a hurry and it printed out slightly to one side. He got a 4C (in a range from 3c to 7a) because it was not centred.

He then tried to create a design for a spoon. He tried really hard, but it looked like a 3 year old had done it. He got 4C for that as well. And told he had not used enough colour.

Today he was given detention because he had not done the above properly. I am happy with the concept of detention when it is deserved. However (there is always a however), the lesson finished at 1.30pm and then it was lunch time for an hour. His detention was approx half an hour which should have given him half an hour to get his lunch. But, because his first lesson after lunch was hockey, he had to walk down to the hockey pitches at 2pm. With over 1000 children at the school trying to get their lunch at 1.30pm, he ended up having absolutely NOTHING for lunch today, otherwise he would have been late for the hockey lesson.

I am furious with the DT teacher. Firstly because he is picking on a child that is clearly totally useless at DT - it is NOT that he is not trying - he is just cack handed when it comes to anything creative. Secondly, he is the teacher, and he should be responsible for finding out if a detention is likely to stop an 11 year old child from having food at lunch time. Thirdly, there was no warning for the detention - he just decided that the table of children who had not drawn a coloured line around their poster were to be kept in for half an hour.

I don't know what to do. My instinct is to send a snotty email to the school. But then, presumably, I will be told my son was to blame. I actually do not care. I expect my DS to be allowed to get lunch EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK. It is not up to a teacher to decide whether my DS should or should not be allowed to eat. However, I don't want to make things worse for my son. So I suppose I will just have to leave it.

I am keeping the pieces of work that have been marked and will be taking them to the school parents' evening to discuss as I do not believe that being discouraged in the first two weeks of senior school is conducive to my DS improving. I cannot stress enough how untalented he is with pen and pencil. He is pretty creative in his head, and does have good ideas, but cannot put them down as a design.

Oh well - whaddya think?

lydiamama Thu 27-Sep-12 21:59:04

He should not be punished for a lack of talent, he should get detention ONLY if his attitude is wrong (late or undone work, said to do several times and just not bother...). And he needs to eat. I will say to the teacher that my son failed to have a lunch that day, and you do not agree with that. Next time detention is needed, could he please have lunch and go to detention after that? And mention to the teacher that he is not very good at drawing, and that if the job is not good quality is not necessary due to your son not bothering with it.
nevertheless, encourage your child to do as much drawing as he can, and painting, he can only get better, and it is a needed skill.

MagicHouse Thu 27-Sep-12 22:00:33

I think it's difficult for you to know the exact reasons why your DS was given a detention, and that half an hour should have been enough time for him to get his lunch.

So I wouldn't be too snotty in an email! I think I would ask to speak to the teacher and talk to him face to face about what happened.

johnthepong Thu 27-Sep-12 22:09:46

4c is not a bad mark for a year 7 to be getting at the beginning of year 7.

I have never, ever, ever heard of a year 7 child getting a 7a in year 7 in d+t. THe highest we would give in my school (for a particularly exceptional child) would be a 5a. d+t is a new subject to them, they are learning new skills.

As for the detention- I wonder why your child got a detention? Is he telling the whole story here? Its not the teacher's fault there was a long lunch queue.

BigFatLegsInWoolyTIghts Thu 27-Sep-12 22:10:55

I think you need to stop saying he is useless at DT. Also...he's old enough to print things for himself. Instead of giving up and letting HIM give him t work with what he has.

So he's colour blind...he can create graphics which are interesting but use a very wide range of greys or whatever colours he understands.

My dad once painted a picture of a black man using only blues.

riskit4abiskit Thu 27-Sep-12 22:14:17

How was the teacher to know that your son had hockey ( if your son did not tell him)?

A4b is an average for y7 in my subject, soyour son perhaps is only slightly below average, and we can't all be good at everything.

Perhaps the teacher thought that the homework looked rushed and low in quantity rather than looking at quality. I think anyone could see if a child had really tried even if the artistic or design quality wasn't there.

Also, why did you print it out? Could your son not do it and then check it is correct?

I would say the problem is having to give up half your lunch to go to hockey rather than the hwk issue, couldn't you fight that battle instead as the hwk prob has only happened once and I presume the hockey pitch trek might happen several times?

Kids at our school have 35mins for lunch, an hour would be a luxury!

Sorry if I sound harsh!

TheFallenMadonna Thu 27-Sep-12 22:17:49

At this time of year, I get quite a lot of homework handed in half (or less) done, with the excuse "I couldn't do it". I point out that the time to tell me that is not hand in day. Incomplete homework earns a detention. I would contact the teacher to clarify why the detention was given.

All our detentions are after school, and our lunchtime is only half an hour, so everyone has to get their lunch in that time!

larks35 Thu 27-Sep-12 22:19:48

It is very crap that your son did not get any lunch! I work in secondary and we can only give "on the spot" 10min detentions at break or lunch. Full detentions issued by us via the faculty are 30mins but parents are notified in writing before it happen. I think you should complain about your son not getting any lunch.

Do all of your son's teachers know of his colour-blindness? I think you should contact his head of year to ensure that all his teachers are reminded/made aware (they may have had some info. but it may have got lost amonst the deluge of info. teachers get at the start of the year). Level 4c or 4.3 is not a bad level at all for a yr 7 student. I also think any complaint you decide to make about your son's lack of lunch should be made via the head of year.

IHeartKingThistle Thu 27-Sep-12 22:30:48

Yes, horrible for your DS not to have any lunch. But at secondary you cannot expect teachers to know what is going on in every other subject. Not the DT teacher's fault that your DS had to go to hockey.

I'd also be very careful about using the phrase 'picking on'. He's not picking on your child if the whole table of children were kept in.

I do understand how unfair it seems, though - I would be upset too.

beachyhead Thu 27-Sep-12 22:35:04

I would ask if his presentations could be judged on the basis of black and white as he is colour blind... I would guess his detention was for more than lack of colour, if you check...

CailinDana Thu 27-Sep-12 23:06:07

I'm guessing your child is 11/12? And you're still printing things for him and getting involved in his school life to this extent? It's time to let him grow up I think. Teachers don't give detention to be vindictive, they do it for good reasons and I'm sure your son wasn't too keen to tell you what those reasons were. If a whole table got detention then it's a fair bet that there was a lot of messing and not much work going on at that table during the class.

Would you be ok with a relative of someone you work with emailing your boss and telling them you're not doing your job right when they don't know the full story? If you do think this teacher is being unnecessarily harsh then the sensible, adult thing to do would be to arrange a meeting to discuss it, calmly and without assumptions. Diving right in there and assuming the teacher is incompetent isn't going to help anyone, least of all your son.

McHappyPants2012 Thu 27-Sep-12 23:14:48

I had a terrible stammer, but still had to talking in welsh, english, french and other subject. I am glad the teachers did as it really helped.

OP i know you want to protect him, but he needs to be able to function with his colour blindness.

SquirtedPerfumeUpNoseInBoots Thu 27-Sep-12 23:24:07

I get you OP. My DS is colour blind too, and totally lacking in the ability to draw anything. He's never been the sort of boy to sit with pen and paper when there's outdoors and a ball.
He's struggling with this in big school too, but the teachers there do seem to recognise that he just has no talent in that area (neither do I couldn't draw to save me). I keep telling him that everyone's good at different things, and as long as he makes the effort...but I do intend to remind them at parents evening that he sees differently as well.

Narked Thu 27-Sep-12 23:36:45

'For homework he created a poster which I had to print out. I was in a hurry and it printed out slightly to one side. He got a 4C (in a range from 3c to 7a) because it was not centred.'

Why were you the one printing it out? He knew it had to be centred and it wasn't. Full stop.

'He then tried to create a design for a spoon. He tried really hard, but it looked like a 3 year old had done it. He got 4C for that as well. And told he had not used enough colour.'

You may need to explain exactly what the issues are with his colour blindness to this to the teacher so he is allowed to work in monochrome.

'Today he was given detention because he had not done the above properly. I am happy with the concept of detention when it is deserved.'

But then you said

'*he just decided that the table of children who had not drawn a coloured line around their poster were to be kept in for half an hour.'*

So it wasn't about a perceived lack of effort or an inability to use colurs due to his colour blindness. It was about a simple instruction to draw a coloured line around their poster he had ignored. His colour blindness has no impact on that!

'he is picking on a child that is clearly totally useless at DT - it is NOT that he is not trying - he is just cack handed when it comes to anything creative'

Being bad at design isn't a free pass! Some children aren't very good at it, just as some will never be great at PE or maths. They get better with practice but won't ever be great at it, just like some will never be great at PE or maths. That doesn't mean they are allowed extra leeway to ignore simple instructions to centre a poster or draw a coloured border on it! Those are not 'creative' issues!

As for lunch, he had lots of choices. He could have explained to the teacher that he had hockey after lunch. He could have gone to see the PE teacher and explained he was going to be late. He could have asked a friend to get him something from the canteen or he could have risked being late to hockey! This is senior school. He's old enough to open his mouth when he has a problem.


sashh Fri 28-Sep-12 03:40:24

What Narked said.

It was an entire table, that is not someone picking on your child.

Tee2072 Fri 28-Sep-12 06:25:31

I agree with Narked and everyone else. If the whole table got detention, it had nothing to do with your son but his table.

As for the rest: if you keep telling him he's useless and 'cack handed' at DT, he will be.

fait Fri 28-Sep-12 08:05:10

Thanks for your responses. WIll answer in "bulk"
To the people who said that half an hour should be enough for lunch - yes, of course it is. However, in his hour lunch break he had half an hour detention and the remainder of the lunch break is spent walking down to the hockey centre - so effectively they lose half an hour of lunch that day.

To the people who say their children only get half an hour, the school starts earlier, and has a longer lunch break to get clubs done as much as possible during the school day.

I don't tell him he is useless and cack handed - I was telling you!

I have told the school several times about the colour blindness - I find teachers forget really quickly about it and the way it can cause problems.

There were other children put in detention for not having drawn the coloured line. My DS thought he HAD drawn a coloured line.

Usually, if my Ds complains of unfairness, I immediately say I am going into school, as this always leads to "well, actually it was because I did xyz" so I never end up going in. It is always a threat to find out the truth. This time he said "you don't have to, but if you happen to see the teacher I think you ought to mention it to him as he may do it again".

I have told him to speak to his tutor to ask how to handle it if it happens again. I don't want to upset the teacher by the children saying they don't want to do it because they need to get to hockey. Nothing likely to wind a teacher up more than a child thinking another lesson is more important ...

To those who said why was I doing the printing. I work from home - we have one printer which is a work printer and I never allow him to use it. In the same way he is not allowed to use my work computers. He has his own laptop. I don't think that is unreasonable.

He always does his homework and spent longer than the requisite half an hour on the design that made the teacher cross.

4C in his school is considered unacceptable. To get three of them in a week is therefore quite something.

The comments the teacher has made on his drawings lead me to believe that he IS criticising lack of talent. I saw them last night, but my son has taken them to school today, so cannot give you a word for word replay.

I won't go in or email - however, I will take the offending items into school on parents evening along with the work he has done at his previous school in DT which should show conclusively that my DS is not being difficult - simply finding it very difficult.

It annoys my son immensely, as he finds most things very easy - maths, English, sport etc - but the more he tries the worse it looks. Sometimes I suggest that he stops trying to improve things, because it just looks more of a mess than before he tried to improve it (a bit like an ex of mine doing the grouting - the first attempt should have been accepted rather than the "improvement").

Thank you to everyone who commented - good and bad - I do know he is in no way an angel and as I said, am more than happy for detentions if he has been mucking around or chatting in class. After a warning.

He managed to get another detention yesterday (which will mean "community service" today!) - he and 5 other boys did not wait for the crossing to go green on the way to hockey and therefore detention was in order. Have no problem with that at all. In fact, my response would be for hte boys to have to hold hands the next time they walked down to the hockey pitches - that would soon make them remember to wait for the crossing lights!

The teacher did say to them that he did see them checking four or five times that there as no traffic, but that was not acceptable. I suspect he was watching them to see what they did and could see the road was clear - in order to give the detention to make sure that they did not try it again when the road may have been busier. (hope that makes some sort of sense!)

Anyway - thanks again!

sashh Fri 28-Sep-12 08:17:24

How can you think you have drawn a coloured line and not have?

LeeCoakley Fri 28-Sep-12 08:25:11

I would make an appointment to see the teacher before parents' evening as it is about something specific. Parents' evenings are rushed affairs, basically the teachers saying how they are doing and how improvements can be made. There isn't time for more than a couple of questions and I think you need more time than that to discuss strategies in DT re the colour blindness.

DeathMetalMum Fri 28-Sep-12 08:28:17

If he is being marked for his printing then it is his responsibility. If he isn't allowed to use your printer I'm sure the school has plenty of facilities to allow your ds to print it himself.

whois Fri 28-Sep-12 08:29:08

I'm not saying this applys to your DS' situation OP, but to all those saying teachers aren't vindictive or give detentions for no reason, that is total bull. There were several absolute foul human beings at my secondary school. One teacher was known for bullying children. One boy was bullied so badly by this teacher he ended up become a school refuser. others were shit at their jobs and vindictive in their nature and handing out punishments. Not all teachers are perfect!

hollyberry41 Fri 28-Sep-12 08:45:23

I'm sure its always worth keeping an eye on for where there might be a genuine situation like the one whois describes but if it isn't a frequent thing I'd be tempted let it go this time.

The only time I got a detention at school was totally unfair to me and one of those things where the whole class got punished because someone else didn't own up to something! I ranted about it at home as well! I overheard my parents talking about it. They weren't unsympathetic but I gather they must have decided it was one of those things and left it at that. Contacting the school for things like that wasn't seen as something you did unless it was a really big thing and I know things have changed a lot and its not always a bad thing that teachers are questioned more but if its a case of being or seeming a bit unfair on one occasion well, just let it be unfair - it won't be a bad lesson for him to see that unless he wants to confront the teacher himself about it some things just are a bit unfair!

I'd probably feel the same about missing lunch but you could always encourage your son to not be afraid to say to someone he hasn't had any lunch and see what they can do for him. Some children worry about getting into trouble for just opening their mouths if they need something.

GoldPlatedNineDoors Fri 28-Sep-12 08:46:51

Your complaint is that your DS is colour blind and being marked low in spite of that - your DS was marked low for a poor design of a spoon and a wonky print out - neither of which are a result of colour blindness.

fait Fri 28-Sep-12 08:50:08

sashh - he is colour blind and thought he had drawn a green line. It was not - it was grey.

In the past he has coloured roman legionnaires in with green bodies as he thought it was pink. He ended up in front of the headmaster of his last school for being "naughty" for this one despite the number of times I had told them about it. Fortunately the headmaster remembered and reminded the teacher ...

For those who say "speak up" - he comes from a school where no excuses were accepted. You just dealt with whatever the teacher said. No argument or discussion (he saves this for home ...) so certainly at the moment, just a few weeks into his new school, he would not even consider telling a teacher that it was not fair, could not do it, needed lunch etc etc.

Crayloa actually have the colours written on their pencils but he didn't have these pencils in the class at the time.

WelshMaenad Fri 28-Sep-12 08:57:12

So he was put into detention because he cannot differentiate between grey and green - he HAD drawn a line?

That's not 'unfair', it's disability discrimination!

I'd be having words.

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