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 complimented Timmy:
– 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 suggested.
– 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 Timmy.


Sounds awfully good to me. But I don't think apologizing is quite enough. You might also need to make it up somehow.”
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.
I promise.
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 my promise.
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 care.
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 something.”
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 Timmy.



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