Sunday, February 15, 2009

A thought 40 years in the making

In 1969, I was in the seventh grade at Highland Middle School, located on Ridge Road in Granger, Ohio. I was thirteen years old, and Richard Nixon had just become president.

Mrs. Leiberman, our English teacher had asked all of us in class to verbalize a "why" question. Everybody had their own answers, and I'm sure I had mine, though I can't remember what this was. This one classmate posed this one-"Why do we have parents?" Most of us, at the time, thought this was a stupid question.

We were asked to write an essay based on these questions. The one who posed the question in the last paragraph wrote simply, "Why do we have parents? The world would be better without them." The essay got a zero and some laughs from the rest of us, though now I wonder why these teacher read it to the class. The one that got the highest grade was about a question as to why there are wars, as the Viet Nam war was being fought at that time.

But back to the one that got the zero. I have wondered during the years if this was actually a call for help, as this boy's mother was only in her late twenties, which meant he was born when she was fifteen. Was he being abused because he was a kid being raised by a kid?

I also wonder if this was written nowadays, if children's services would have been notified?

Update 8:16 PM:In the way of being fair and more accurate I have to add this one correction. The one who wrote the best essay got an "A plus plus", the one writing the two sentence essay got an "F minus minus."

9 comments:

Mike Golch said...

Cliff,that is a troubling thought about your classmate in 1969,I would like to think that yes child services would be contacted.
A personel note in 1969 I was in the tenth grade at Max S. Hayes voc.high school.I graduated in Jan 1971.

Busy Bee Suz said...

Wow. Poor kid. It could be that he was abused or it could be that his parents were very strict and he did not want to live with rules. Very sad either way, especially for his parents.

Ms Hen said...

...sounds like that....

BettyAnn

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

Sad that the teacher gave him a zero. At the very least, she should have spoken with him privately, or made arrangements for him to speak privately to the school counselor.
A 15 year old is ill equipped to raise a kid, that's true now, and it was true then.

SandyCarlson said...

Such is the danger of teaching English! The soul is exposed. I think if I had taught that child I would have encouraged writing a complete essay. Something wasn't making it to the surface, obviously.

Such questions are worth the investment of time and effort. We are all human beings, after all. And when we cry out sometimes all we need is someone to take our questions seriously.

Pat Jenkins said...

if a child receives love he or she may hope the parental nuturing never goes away!... then again they may just hope their parents go away! i know i have asked mine to "go" away far more than i would have hoped!

Frasypoo said...

Its funny is'nt it how we are able to see things differantly when we are more mature.

Shellmo said...

I echo what Frasypoo said - it's when we grow up that we can reflect back and think "wait a minute..." I think for that boy to have written that - things were not well at home. Makes me sad.

CUPCAKE PRINCESSE said...

As I teacher, I would have to disagree greatly with your teacher at the time for giving that student an F on his assignment. My philosophy is that ALL questions that students ask are valid (esp. since it was the teacher who asked the the students to think of a question.... If I were your teacher, I would have had the students introduce their question and open it up to the class for discussion. I think a lot of us were thinking the same thing as adolescents--- I'm sure I was, myself. But, it's sad... kids need to be heard, too...
I had a student of mine in high school confide in me once. She was such a sweet girl and only 16 at the time... She had already attempted suicide and she was telling me that she was still trying to take her life. It was heartbreaking... We got her help, I am VERY big on this... We had such a good talk, she and I... And I can tell it made a positive impact on her at the time... I reported it immediately to her counselor and to the principal b/c as a teacher for the district, we are "mandatory reporters."
I also had new student enter my class because of a failed suicide attempt. I will never forget her- she was only 15 at the time she tried to take her own life- mostly b/c she was upset with her mom... She drank liquid drano and her brother found her unconscious on the kitchen floor. It left her with permanent brain damage and servere physical and cognitive disabilities... Broke my heart in two.... She was a beautiful young girl- lots of friends who loved her, a cheer leader... and very sweet.... Soooo sad! I was glad to have been a part of her life for the time she was a student in my class.