Back in my day…

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Tonight at youth group, a couple teens shared a story about school today. I’m sure I’ll mess up some of the details in the retelling. When it came time to put away the ipads for the day, one turned up missing. Students were accused of theft, lockers were searched and there was much yelling about laughter not being the appropriate response to such an expensive thing missing.

You k now what happens next.

The ipad is found on the cart, underneath something else on the cart. Nobody took it. It was there the whole time.

“Did the teacher apologize?” I asked the teen telling the story.

“No. We just got yelled at again for laughing. They said ipads are expensive and it was serious.”

Back in my day, we didn’t have ipads. Our high school had just gotten the internet but nobody was allowed to use it because they didn’t know what policy they need to have in place or what forms would cover their liability if we stumbled upon naked people or naughty things. We didn’t mind so much; we were still enthralled with the tvs that Channel One had put in all of our classrooms. They all had cable, which meant we could watch MTV if the teacher was cool or not in the room.

A couple of kids who were up to no good, started making trouble in the neighborhood. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.) One kid found out if he brought his remote from home, he could turn the tv on and to MTV without needing the teacher’s remote. He did it during class. We were all warned of the consequences for doing such a stupid thing.

Shortly after that, the history teacher was trying to start one of his intriguing and educational videos. He hit play on the VCR (I’m so old. Stay off my lawn!) and it started playing and then stopped. The tv kept cutting in and out. The teacher restarted it twice before FREAKING OUT on us.

He yelled. He swore. (Teachers rarely swore at us in the mid 90s.) He started searching backpacks. He assigned extra homework. He gave us a pop quiz. He was livid and we were in trouble.

The next day we showed up to class and the mood was very somber. We were scared. Friends of ours in the next door classroom told us that their teacher had stopped class during that period the day before. The yelling was so loud it almost drowned out the laughter of the government teacher who wondered what had his colleague so mad. We were still scared.

Our teacher walked in and immediately started passing out a paper. Surely it was a quiz. And then I started reading the words.

It was an apology. Handwritten and photocopied, the letter to us apologized for the invasion of privacy and the accusations. There had been no remote. The cable was loose between the VCR and TV or something like that. It was a connection error or a video tape error.

I don’t know about the other kids in that class, but I never looked at the teacher the same again. The fact that he respected us enough to apologize meant the world to me. He treated us like humans worthy of respect. He had violated our trust and he took steps to restore it. I took every class I could with him because I knew he cared about us and wasn’t so prideful that he couldn’t admit a mistake.

I wish the teacher(s) involved in ipad-gate had apologized. I’m sure the kids came across as disrespectful, but I bet it was nervous laughter from the teens in that class today. Ipads are expensive “learning tools” but trust and relationships between teachers and students are worth so much more.

One response »

  1. What an awesome story about an awesome teacher. He taught you such an important life lesson about being an adult, owning up to your mistakes and apologizing for them. That was probably more important than any of the history you learned in his class. Too bad he wasted that valuable class time not teaching you something that would make you do better on a standardized test, right?

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