Why Do Students Want to Take Down Teachers

Teachers

Teachers (Photo credit: iwannt)

In a recent post, I quoted words used in a search that ended up at my blog.  I listed eight incidents of which I had direct knowledge. In each one a teacher had been the target of an attempt to take him or her down.

The first question is why.  As you probably surmised from the list, most these students want to get back at the teacher.  Usually the student didn’t get the mark desired, sometimes the student was disciplined for misbehaving and sometimes there was a personality clash.  Occasionally a student was mentally ill but usually there is an element of revenge when students set out to take down a teacher.

The second reason is because she can.   Without believing she can take down a teacher, a student’s thoughts of revenge remain a daydream, a bitching session with a friend or some complaining over supper.  Thoughts of revenge dwindle over time and the student may come to terms with the source of annoyance.

When revenge is not a reasonable option, a student has an opportunity to learn better ways to deal with perceived unfairness. Perhaps she may acknowledge to herself that the mark or the discipline were earned even if the student thought they were a little excessive.  Perhaps she may talk to the teacher about what is bothering her.  Perhaps she may enlist her parents’ help in talking to the teacher.

However, in England, the USA and Canada, there are many cases that demonstrate students can take down teacher or at the very least, make their lives hell.  And they can do it with relative ease.  How do they have that power?  Why are children able to cause such havoc in the lives of hard working, caring, decent adults?

Initially students are believed when they make a charge of sexual assault or a vague form of harassment.  This is a hangover from the days when the standard belief was that children don’t lie.  This standard was a reaction to a long period when adults refused to believe children who claimed that apparently respectable adults were molesting them.

That refusal was understandable.  Even Freud, who had at first believed women when they described early traumas of molestation and incest, was persuaded by colleagues that the women must be making it up.

1. There is some controversy as to whether Freud did indeed change his mind.  Chief proponent of it seems to be J. M. Masson in his 1984 book, The Assault on Truth.  Freud’s Suppression of the Seduction Theory.

We now realise that if a child can lie about taking a chocolate bar or other things, she can lie about more serious things.  Most children have been brought up to understand how wrong it is to lie and very wrong to lie about serious things. Unfortunately, some children tell the truth, some exaggerate and some do lie.  And some lie deliberately to hurt other people.

Because of the climate of believing children on the subject of abuse, teachers and others are often perceived as guilty until proven innocent.  Whatever happens in the courts, in the disciplinary hearings run by their employers it becomes clear that the burden of proof is on the adult to prove herself not guilty.

All of this makes teachers an easy target.  At the very least they will suffer the pain of being removed from the class while the accusation is investigated.  What more they will suffer, I can only leave to your imagination.

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One response to “Why Do Students Want to Take Down Teachers

  1. Nice article. I agree. In some cases, it’s like a modern day witch hunt. Guilty until proved otherwise. Unfortunately, once accused, it doesn’t really matter the outcome because perception IS reality to most people. The damage has already been done regardless what the teacher can do to prove his/her innocence.

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