Friday, September 17, 2010

Let's ask the experts

Remember this blog that I wrote this past week:  GOT FIGHT?
Well 23 comments on blogger and 32 comments on Facebook, I realized two things:
1) There is not one "answer" to the things that I was wondering about in this blog.
2) I thought that opinions would be divided into those from an American perspective and those from a "rest of the world" perspective, but that was not the case at all.

OK, I realized 4 things..
3) I should have explained myself a bit better; sometimes I think I am being so clear because I write like I assume that all of you have had the same experiences as I have so SURELY no one will misunderstand me! :-)
4) Unless you have worked in the public school sector around teenagers on a daily basis, it is really hard to imagine many of the things about which I was writing.

I also need to clarify that the Texas high school where I was a principal was GREAT. The community where the school was located was GREAT. Most of the families that I worked with for the 6 years while I was there were GREAT. And the staff at my school was BEYOND GREAT. However, even with all this greatness, I still found myself breaking up fights or punishing kids for fighting on a regular basis...
And that issue is what caused me to wonder. WHY?
Why, even in a GREAT environment, bad things were happening; things that were INTERRUPTING the purpose and mission of a school.... you know, that thing we call learning.  :-)

One of the things that I wish I had done as a principal was keep a running tally; not of the number of fights, but of the number of parent conferences I had (many of which included my campus police officer) in which I found myself explaining to a parent that punching someone back who punched you first is not, according to Texas law, SELF-DEFENSE. IT IS FIGHTING.
And underneath those tallies, I wish I had kept a running tally of how many parents (NOT just dads) said to me (and my campus police officer) something like this: "Well, I have always taught my son/daughter that if someone hits you, you stand up for yourself and hit 'em back."

No, I am not kidding.

So knowing all of these experiences I have had in my "BD life" (before Denmark), I wrote that blog on September 13 trying to figure out why my experiences are so different now. (And this time, Different is GOOD.)

Hence the blog.

However I was not any closer to an understanding about WHY after 23 blogger comments and 32 FB comments, so I decided to consult the experts....
No, not the behavorial psychologists and not the criminologists.
I asked my kids....the REAL experts, in my opinion.

I sent out some survey questions to my 2 classes of third-year students...the ones who I have been with since I began at Herning Gymnasium. They range in age from 18-20 and are in their last year of gymnasium. They come from ALL OVER the Herning area and have a huge variety of background experiences based on where they live and where they went to school before coming to HG. I gave them a link to my blog from September 13 and asked them to share their experiences related to fights at school and then also asked them about WHY they think their experiences are so different than those I wrote about.

The data is flowing in and like a good researcher, I am DISAGGREGATING it as we speak. Ok, my process is not quite that formal, but I am trying to put it all in some format that I can share with you because I think that, as usual, our kids have a lot to teach us.

Their perspectives may solidify some of yours and my theories, but they may also contradict things we believe to be true; however what I hope is that they cause us to stop, scratch our heads, and with a thoughtful look on our faces, say, "hmmmmm, there's something interesting in there....perhaps a lesson for me? for parents? for humanity?"

I don't know.. stranger things have happened..
stay tuned!


Anonymous said...

can't wait to hear the results from the experts - your students!

nettielouise said...

You know, I actually brought this up in conversation with my folks at the pub last night. My dad commented that even when he was in high school, back in 1968, fights were a daily occurance. It is something almost engraved in American high school culture. I mean, you think about it and all TV shows on American high schools and movies also always seem to have fights featured as well.

In a way, it almost seems to go along with our ideas of capitalism ...wonder which came first, our instinctual tendencies to fight for whose on top or our love of capitalism -the chicken or the egg, so to speak?

Alex said...

Man. This is something to think about. In general I've always felt that if someone hits you first, you have the right to hit them back and try to pound the everloving shit out of them.

On the other hand, I don't think a man should ever hit a woman, no matter what the provocation, because the dice are already so loaded, in every facet of life.

But if i were to extend that to other people who work with loaded dice...

I'm curious. How was a kid supposed to handle it in your school if they were cornered and couldn't quickly get help?

I'm asking because years ago I was in that kind of experience. I went to a private co-ed religious boarding school and never saw a fight, but when I was 15 and weighed less than 100 lbs, I was pinned to my chair in the library by a dude who already looked adult. Bodybuilder, mountain climber, muscles like crazy. He pinned me from behind and I had no idea what he was going to do to me. I couldn't get out of my chair because he had his arms around me from behind, gripping my wrists. Dude was like a boa constrictor. No teacher or librarian around, just some kids who were egging it on. So I bit his wrist. Hard. Crushingly. He screamed and let go. And honestly, there's not another thing I could have done other than gone along and waited to see what happened.

Food for thought.