A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 172

Ve haf vays of making you ...

The biggest non-basketball crowd to hit the bleachers since the Planning Board tried (and failed) to ban peacocks from downtown was recently treated to a captivating movie on Assertive Discipline, which, in turn, spawned an equally fascinating question from the assembled ranks of the parental infantry.

The evening began briskly with newly-promoted Memorial Drive Elementary School Vice Principal Mike Lee (ex-athletic director Mike Lee, that is) welcoming the gathered multitudes to an unveiling of the school's bold plan to make children obedient, well-mannered and attentive.

Off go the gym lights, on goes the projector, up cranks the sound-track to full tinny volume. The throng is treated to slides of Mr. Lee (no relation) Canter, co-inventor of Assertive Discipline, making an impassioned speech to a group of seated adults. For some odd reason he is shouting at 'em.

"WHAT A TEACHER SAYS MUST GO!" says Canter, and this loud and clear remark is greeted with such fervant approval that one instantly suspects the audience on the screen is entirely composed of teachers, or that mass hypnosis is a factor.

The audiotrack is a continuous monologue, but the visual portion comprises a long series of stills (many depicting Canter yelling) which change to the accompaniment of an echoing "ping" sound, reminicent of that in WWII U-boat movies when the action is 100 fathoms under the North Atlantic.

"Ping. KIDS ARE HARDER TO HANDLE THAN EVER BEFORE!? asserts Canter, while the muppet-style audience cheers its agreement.

"Ping. BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS ARE TEARING APART THE FABRIC OF SCHOOL TODAY!" avers Canter at the top of his voice in the next frame. More clapping. He's on a roll. Even people in the Burtman-Rondeau Auditorium are now peering up at the gym rafters to see if the Tiger basketball banners have succumbed to the mayhem of small American children.

The cavalcade of pinging, negative consequences, clapping, more pinging, exhortations to praise one's offspring when they've done good ("well," the ancient adverb is as extinct as the woolly mammoth in American schools) and even more pinging, finally peters out and the lights come back on in the hall.

"Any questions?" asks Mike Lee, and before you can say side step (slide down) consequence Manny Krasner, attorney, town moderator and chairman of Farmington Democrats, has his hand up.

At last a man of courage to slash and hack aside the undergrowth of sociological jargon. A gallant hero to rescue that same side step (slide down) consequence and carry it into the sunlight of general comprehension. But wait! Krasner is asking a question of such torturous profundity that the bleachers are awash with dismay. If some irreducible circumstance, Krasner wants to know, is juxtaposed with something every bit as entangled (and just as forgetable), what would be the consequence?

Mike Lee, a man of lightning reflexes, defers at once to school counselor Ms. McEachron.

McEachron, it seems, understands the enquiry and responds in similar Greek. Says something about trying to remain flexible without being rigid. Hmmm! That sounds tricky. Then, out of the blue, good old Mike Lee seizes the ball, runs 50 yards and scores a touchdown for common sense and plain speaking. He gives a real life example of assertive discipline with a negative consequence!

A small boy on the way home from school the other day kicks a small girl on the ankle. (No - that's not Assertive Discipline, that's an Aggressive Action.)

Small girl tells teacher. (No - that's not Tattletelling, that's Reporting.)

Teacher tells Mike Lee. And Mike Lee tells the small boy that his name is down in a big book, and they agree upon what will happen if small boy goofs up again. And they tell his parents.

And the parson told the sexton, and the sexton tolled the bell on the subject of Assertive Discipline Consequence Procedures. Maybe.

Footnote: Would the young scallywag who let the air out of the tires of cars parked out back of the school during the Assertive Discipline workshop please step forward?

Gopaleen na Lander news

A writing workshop will be held in the Goodwin Library by Milli Gay. This time Milli will handle only six students, so those who feel they could use the help should scurry to Dorinda's desk by Saturday Oct. 6 and sign up. Three Saturday morning sessions will ensue - on Oct. 13, Nov. 10 and Dec. 1. The courses will be held in English. Those preferring the more fashionable Mongolian, so in vogue with educators and child psychologists, should contact Professor Francis Cleaves in Alton.

October 1, 1990

FC4 Home       Previous       Next