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Tearing pages out/tearing up children's work - surely outdated, or is it acceptable?

(25 Posts)
Averille Mon 02-Oct-17 11:47:56

I'm aware I've only got my son's take on this so far, but I wanted to check whether I was reacting in a reasonable way (obvs MN is the place for this!)

Son has told me that his teacher has repeatedly threatened to tear up, or tear out from their books (not sure which - perhaps both) the children's work.
I remember this happening to me and other children back in the early 1980s and the feeling has never left me.
My thoughts are that public humiliating of children is to be discouraged; that it would be unacceptable in an adult workplace; that it is contrary to an atmosphere of respect for the children, and does nothing to encourage them to look past minor mistakes, which are inevitable; and that it is cruel and unkind.
The same teacher taught year 5 last year and my son's friend was in her class then, and said that she had actually done it, and so it isn't just an empty threat - she means business.
Son told me it's to do with presentation as well as errors, so if you don't write very neatly, or if you miss out a couple of full stops, she will enact the punishment.
I think it's ridiculous and it's made me angry that she's ruling by fear, rather than using a better method of encouraging effort and tidy work.
Have written to HT to say so.
Have I been an eejit or is this a totally rubbish teaching method?

OP’s posts: |
CallMeDollFace Mon 02-Oct-17 11:51:16

Hmm. I've torn pages out occasionally, but more in a kind way because they've made a bugger of something by accident (or completely not listening to the instructions 🙄) and there's no other way to fix it.

BUT not as punishment (or threat of) and not when a lot of time and effort has been put into the work.

Averille Mon 02-Oct-17 11:51:26

Oh I ought to say, this is Year 6 - and also I'm not unbiased: the same teacher has already tried to bluff her way out of a completely uncontentious question I asked her, and has also told my son's other friend, who is being bullied relentlessly, that crying in Y6 is unacceptable, that they are crocodile tears, and that he needs to work on managing the bullying, rather than it being stopped by an intervention from her.

So I am at screaming point tbf.

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Averille Mon 02-Oct-17 11:52:22

Crossed posts. Thanks, yes I can see as a paragmatic manner of dealing with untidy work and starting again, it would be OK.

But as you say using it as a threat and a punishment seems really unorthodox to me.

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Averille Mon 02-Oct-17 11:52:39

sorry for typos. You would not think I was a copy editor

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CallMeDollFace Mon 02-Oct-17 11:54:37

^ just seen you've written to the head. Have you sent it? I'd say it's better to go in and ask her about it directly. I'd be very surprised if she's really tearing out pages over a couple of full stops?! (There would be no pages left if my class are anything to go by 😂)

Averille Mon 02-Oct-17 11:58:02

Ha. I know - it seems very silly and DS does sometimes misreport stuff (not deliberately! Very truthful, ASD, overcompliant type)

He said if you miss out three full stops she will tear out the page.
She seems to be using it as a pretty ubiquitous threat, and has said it in various guises several times according to him.

The thing is yes, some kids do mess about, or don't try, but when they have put in a lot of effort and just missed out some punctuation it seems awful then to go and destroy their work.
Much of the work so far this term appears to have been about drafting work and then copying it out again - so all about tidiness. They seem to have little else to do - having done their Kent Test, it's kind of slipped into weirdness.

I appreciate your input: thanks again.

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Averille Mon 02-Oct-17 11:59:12

Oh and no, I really don't want to ask her directly. When we spoke on the phone she was less than direct, avoided answering the simple question, (about secondary admissions) and was generally disingenuous.

I don't think we would get very far and I'm afraid I might have to stifle an impulse to be impolite

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friendlessme Mon 02-Oct-17 11:59:49

Yes I would talk to her directly first. It is an awful thing to do - children need to feel free to mess up and make mistakes and then learn from them, not live in fear of doing so. Also public humiliation is crap teaching in my opinion.

CallMeDollFace Mon 02-Oct-17 12:00:50

How odd. Definitely worth investing further. Good luck!

CallMeDollFace Mon 02-Oct-17 12:01:06


pinkingshears Mon 02-Oct-17 12:04:00

OP are you me???
My ds is also ASD overcompliant unable to lie etc.
His SENCO no less was tearing pages out in front of the class, Y7, when he has a dx'd hypermobility issue with hands which makes 'neat' handwriting difficult.! I was really angry.
She 'apologised to him' apparantly (eventually) but now he has stopped writing at home completely sad

Averille Mon 02-Oct-17 12:06:58

Thank you all. I will report what the HT says though he tends towards defending his staff (obvs) and you have to read between the lines.

Pinkingshears I'm so, so sorry to hear that. It doesn't sound as though his SENCO is very good. I would be angry, too.

Your poor boy.

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Celticlassie Mon 02-Oct-17 12:08:51

Maybe they have been taught repeatedly how to use full stops, practised, demonstrated that they are now able to use full stops, and now their omission is nothing but sloppiness and a lack of effort?

There’s a difference between making the odd mistake, or a case where they genuinely don’t know what they should be doing, and a failure to make sufficient effort.

Averille Mon 02-Oct-17 12:11:27

Of course, CelticLassie, though I don't think punctuation has been a significant part of their learning so far - not enough to offend a teacher if it's forgotten, anyway.

Regardless of effort/not effort, do you still think it a reasonable manner in which to manage such a thing? I mean if I had a child in my class who was writing poorly because he or she didn't much care to try, I'd not be looking at a top-down punishment like this but at ways to make them want to do it better.

I cannot see an instance in which using this as enforcement would not make the child cry. It does no good.

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Perigord Mon 02-Oct-17 12:40:20

I have a policy when contacting teachers of not going over their head and phrasing things as a polite question. So I'd have approached it from a "ds is worrying as he thinks if his work isn't neat enough or he misses out a couple of full stops his work will be torn up. I know he sometimes gets the wrong end of the stick, so would you clarify what the rules are on this."
I find i then always resolve things amicably without needing to go over their head.

Averille Mon 02-Oct-17 12:50:32

In most instances I would do the same, Perigord. I don't want to antagonise her. But in this ase, it seems as though there is very little doubt that she is making the threats, and asking her what the rules are about it might give her the impression that I agree with it in some circumstances, which I really don't.
Also my experience with her so far has been quite negative and I don't want to be cynical, but I'd not necessarily believe what she said about it if we discussed it.
It's been going on, as far as I can tell, for longer than my child's tenure in her class and as such I'm curious to know the HT's position on it.
That's basically what I've said to him: does he think its appropriate, and if not, would there be any way in which he might be able to stop it from happening?
I know it isn't ideal to go over her head about it, but I can't think of a way it will be resolved if I don't. She would just say 'Oh well DS's work is normally very good so he needn't worry' or similar - and that's not the point.
Hope that makes some sense.

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Averille Mon 02-Oct-17 14:09:22

HT has responded: he went to observe the class (on the case - impressed) and also spoke to the teacher about my email.

Apparently he found a harmonious working environment, which is reassuring, and she told him that she only removes pages at the children's request; sometimes, she said, she makes a joke out of it by being dramatic; the implication is that my son (with ASD) has taken it to be a serious threat, when it was never intended as such.

I don't really know what to make of this. Clearly a teacher will behave well when being observed by the HT, and she is unlikely to say, 'Yes, I do this thing the parent has complained about'.

It's quite possible that DS has misunderstood, but his reports of what his friends have said support his initial understanding of it, and those friends are less likely to struggle with social inference.

So I feel as though I've been written off as over-concerned, and DS's ASD has been cast as the culprit.

I think all I can do (aside from apologising for making the HT investigate something that he considers a false alarm, which I have done) is to watch and wait, and hope that it was, indeed, a misunderstanding.

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user789653241 Mon 02-Oct-17 14:30:26

I think you got a good results either way. Now the teacher knows HT is on the case, she cannot possibly lie and threaten children ever again!

Averille Mon 02-Oct-17 16:45:53

Well that's one way to look at it - she might not have done these things, of course, but it's hard to know either way, because I wasn't there.
But if it were the case then yes, it might prevent her from doing it again, at least for a while.
And if not then I've just made myself look daft smile

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Celticlassie Mon 02-Oct-17 20:41:37

I don’t actually think that’s an acceptable way to treat childrens’ work, to be honest, but was just playing devil’s advocate to suggest why the teacher may have done it in the first place.

In the situation I mentioned I’d probably ask the pupils to redo the work without the careless mistakes, in their own time, but leave the original poor work to demonstrate the improvement. (Assuming there was WAS an improvement!)

Out2pasture Tue 03-Oct-17 04:01:04

And then there is me who thinks it’s perfectly fine to have children redo messy work....

derxa Tue 03-Oct-17 06:13:24

Ofsted place great store on children's book work atm.
It is a rubbish teaching method. Anyway full stops can be added.
I'm glad I'm not a teacher any more. Especially in Y6 where the pressures are horrendous.

Ttbb Tue 03-Oct-17 06:22:05

Children really shouldn't be missing out full stops in year six. She just sounds very old school and rather harsh. For a certain kind of child this kind of 'teaching' style would work very well but for most children, softer children in particular, this wouldn't be helpful. How old is this teacher? Maybe she is just completely out of touch and rather quite past it?

ilovesushi Tue 03-Oct-17 07:51:54

I've had this. A teacher tore up my DS' work in Y3, and my DD has told me of various teachers who do this to her classmates. Seems it is generally the kids who struggle with school work that get this shaming treatment. Totally wrong, totally unacceptable on so many levels. Glad you didn't let this rest OP.

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