Timmy was caught for having thrown an emtpy beer bottle into
to the school playground over the weekend . The bottle smashed
into many nasty pieces of glass.
At first Timmy tried to deny that he had done it, but when
it became apparent to him that there was a wittness who had
seen him do it, he reluctantly volunteered:
Well, maybe it could have
been me. I don't remember, said Timmy.
-Well, did you, or not? continued the teacher.-OK,
I guess the bottle that broke could have been the one I threw,
Timmy admitted, sullenly.
It is very good that you
admitted that. It will be to your own good. You will be appreciated
for taking responsibility for what you did. the teacher
What does that mean? I have to stay after school, so
what good does that do me? remarked Timmy with a sour
look on his face.
It could be that you wouldn't need to stay after school
if you took responsibility for what you did the teacher
What's that supposed to mean? "Take responsibility"?
Do you mean that I should just tell? But I already did! Is
that it? protested Timmy
Not quite, but it's a good start. You should also be
able to explain why what you did was wrong, and then apologize
for it the teacher explained evenly.
I know goddamned well why it is wrong, Timmy
muttered darkly, and I can explain that any time.
Very good. I thought it
would be a piece of cake to you. You can talk more about it
later, but just give me one reason now why what you did was
wrong, the teacher encouraged.
Because someone could
cut their foot on the glass, offered Timmy, after some thought.
Right! Or on their hand,
if someone happened to fall on the glass. If you want to do
this for real, you might want to write out a list of these
possibilities to show that you really understand why breaking
glass in the school playground is wrong. After that, we could
think together about to whom you should adress your apology,
the teacher responded.
Do you mean that I should aplogize to the Principal?
Timmy asked, dubiously.
I am not sure that she
would be right person, since she wouldn't be the one running
around in the playground. Perhaps you should address your
apology to your classmates? prompted the teacher
Each one? Are you crazy?"
Timmy exclaimed in exasperation
Well, you have to be a
bit crazy to work in this profession you know, the teacher
gently responded, but seriously, you might consider putting
a note on the school bulletin board unless you want to give
an apology speach through the school PA system.
Give me a break! Me apologizing
on the PA - no way. I 'd rather write something for the bulletin
board. I could even draw a picture of a broken bottle and
write the word "sorry" underneath." offered
Sounds awfully good to me. But I don't think
apologizing is quite enough. You might also need to make it
I can clean up the glass.
Is that good enough? asked Timmy, hopefully
Thats's not a bad idea
at all. In fact that is something you could do right after
this talk, but I don't think it is enough. You might also
want to speak with our maintenance man about how you might
be able to help him with with caring for the school yard.
If you help him every day for a week or so, it might do the
trick. If you want I can go with you to talk to him.
And that's it?
I think you also have to promise not to do anything
like this again.
Very good. I appreciate
that, but how can we trust that you keep your promise?. I
understand that you have also promised things before but then
didn't keep your word.
But this time I will keep
That sounds like you mean
it, but if you want to be truly convincing I think we should
make a deal about what will happen should you for any reason
break your promise and do something like that again.
I'll make a deal. I don't
Ok, so on what shall we
agree? What shall happen if you vandalize, or create a dangerous
situation for your classmates?
I will stay after school.
That doesn't sound good
to me. You are so used to detention that I don't think it
has any effect on you. Let's try to come up with something
more appropriate. Why don't you ask you classmates what they
think? (He goes to ask them, and comes back later).
Most of them had idiotic
suggestions but one of them said that if I do something like
that again I should have to come to school an hour early to
help the maintenance man with shoveling the snow from the
sidewalks. I could live with that.
That's fine but that is
something we would have to agree with your parents too, because
otherwise, for sure, you will be sound asleep when the time
comes for you to help with shoveling snow in the morning.
Let's talk with the maintenance man and your parents and write
the agreement down on paper and have everyone sign it so that
the deal becomes more official.
That's OK for me but I
don't intend to ever have to show up on a snowy morning. Never!
The snow is none of my business. Let the maintenance guy do
it, that's what he is paid for!
Alright, but there is
one more thing to be discussed.
What! Is this not enough?
What else do you want me to do?
It is enough, but if you want to repair your
reputation, I suggest that you also do something that will
send the message to other kids that throwing bottles and other
such behaviors are out of bounds in school.
What can I do? I cannot
stand on guard on the school yard all day and night and shoot
everyone who breaks something or sprays grafitti on the school
walls, can I?"
Something like that but
for security reasons you migh want to use a water pistol instead."
I have an air gun.
I used to have one too
when I was a teenager but we are not talking about guns. We
are talking about what you can do to stop others from doing
these kinds of things
I can tell you, or some
other teacher if I catch someone making a mess or breaking
That's a good suggestion
but might not work in practice unless we follow through. I
suggest that we talk about this with the whole class and we
start some a project to improve our class spirit. You might
volunteer to be in the planning committee or something. What
do you think?
That would be cool! exclaimed