Mean Spirited v Bullying

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by killoban, Apr 13, 2021.

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  1. killoban

    killoban Rookie

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    Apr 13, 2021

    There is a lot of emphasis on zero-tolerance regarding bullying in children's peer groups, and rightfully so. However, that perhaps gives way to a reverse bullying known as "cry-bullying" where one can claim to be a victim with little substance, possibly triggering a chain-reaction that leaves ever more on edge.

    One wonders if "bullying" really is the main form of suppression in a learning environment; is not "light ribbing" a catalyst for progression? Is is not mean spirited behaviour that drives down the thirst for learning, over being scolded for not knowing something that one should ?

    Is it not mean spirited behaviour that is the real bullying ?

    A zero tolerance on mean spirited behaviour ?
     
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  3. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    A one time of being "mean-spirited", I can see, but repetition is bullying. "Light ribbing" once, ok. Repetition is bullying. Maybe not to the extreme but the pattern is there.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2021
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  4. killoban

    killoban Rookie

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    Apr 14, 2021

    Repetition is the key to perfection, if someone continuously gets something wrong without correcting it, then they pull everybody back with them, surely.

    At that point, global humiliation might be needed to jerk them out of that routine ?
     
  5. Guitart

    Guitart Companion

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    Apr 14, 2021

    Our foster daughter graduated from Army bootcamp about 3 years ago. By a school standards, they are "bullied" as a unit. They never got touched. Screamed at = yes. Humiliated = yes. Repeatedly = yes. Punishment = they got smoked. Smoked = forced to perform PT for screw ups. Later into the training, when individuals are lagging or continue to make mistakes, the DI's singled them out and only smoked them.

    Her bullying experience was necessary to motivate these young men and women to work as a unit. Did it emotionally scar her? Not at all. In fact, she's as spoiled, privileged, and cocky as ever today. Translation: CONFIDENCE!
     
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  6. killoban

    killoban Rookie

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    Not the environment I was referring to, but still the hypothesis seems to scale.

    If working toward creating a team then mean spiritedness should surely forbidden. While "checking someones privilege" i.e. letting themselves, and the group, down, is singled out and corrected, where possible.

    I think what is mistaken for bullying, where the individual can escape self-criticism claiming to be a victim, is in reality the individual simply not working smart enough.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2021
  7. MrTempest

    MrTempest Companion

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    Apr 15, 2021

    Are you talking about when fatties get upset for being called fatty because they are fat?
     
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  8. killoban

    killoban Rookie

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    Apr 15, 2021

    I know what I think.

    However, I am here for genuine debate on the matter i.e. for those with opposing views.
     
  9. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Apr 17, 2021

    I'm glad your foster daughter had a "good" experience at boot camp; my son did in the Navy boot camp as well.

    I would point out that this is very different from the sort of bullying that happens in school, though. School bullying is indeed geared towards a particular goal, arguably of unity, but the way it achieves unity is by the exclusion of the victim.

    I would also point out that one can quit boot camp, and many do.
     
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  10. killoban

    killoban Rookie

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    Boot camp is not normal school, in that case the conscious choice to choose one over the other is at least recognition of an/the issue. As you point out, their choice to leave (unless pushed to) is also at their disposal, so it's not those people that fall into the category I am concerned with.

    My concerns are ring-fenced to a "normal" school environment, as most understand it to be, where all concerned are on a journey. The issue may well be that a school's intake is too broad, as it is well understood that selective education is successful in reducing irreconcilable differences, I wonder how much bullying occurs as a result ?

    I wonder therefore if an easing in victimisation could be achieved from a wider range of selective schooling, with the priority on the school's culture being paramount to all refusal disputes, creating a more relaxed and natural environment e.g. a school just for obese children, or those gifted in music ?
     
  11. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Comrade

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    Apr 17, 2021

    There may be some merits to the idea, but where does it end? People have overlapping identities in different categories. For example, I was a gifted student in core subjects with musical talent who is also vision impaired and extremely petite. Out of those 4 categories only, in my entire life I can only think of about two dozen other people who fit that even 3 of 4 matches. It's completely unfeasible to specify that much. Humans are infinitely diverse.
    Within the much more practical single category characterization, kids who would be bullies in a mixed setting will just bully based on a different category. At a school for gifted musicians, I would still have been picked on for being small.

    Where I think you are correct is that it's easier to build a sense of community in a group with shared core values, interests, or identities. It's easier to be inclusive when the group is mostly homogenous, but there's more value to teaching tolerance and inclusion across diverse groups.
     
  12. killoban

    killoban Rookie

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    Apr 18, 2021

    Oxford boast of the highest pupil-to-tutor personal time ratio in their field, they know what works, but that can be boiled down to resources versus money. What I am arguing for is a naturally forming culture that creates a learning environment with the least amount of upfront resistance to those in attendance - in that light there are no differences too great that would drive a wedge between pupils.

    The very act of "teaching" "tolerance" is useless as nothing natural ever needs to be explained, some people will just never fit together. In fact "teaching tolerance" is only ever effective when backed up with legal consequences i.e. forcibly taught. It's actually a facist concept and has no positive lasting effects once stopped i.e. leaving the learning environment, it's pointless.
     
  13. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    The thing is, she signed up for bootcamp and the "bullying" as you call it. Kids HAVE to go to school and NO ONE signs up to be bullied in public or private schools. Mentally, not everyone is made for the miliary's "bullying" and cannot handle the typical bullying that goes on in school. Translation: suicide or mass murder - not confidence. Bootcamp and school... apples and oranges.
     
  14. killoban

    killoban Rookie

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    As I said, the choice was taken by those of whom needed to make that choice, they are on their path to success, however, my theory is for the normal classroom.
     
  15. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Apr 20, 2021

    We certainly have a society now that can't handle any type of negativity from others, but kids shutting down in the classroom has happened for a very long time. Very few schools have all of their classrooms working as teams and students comfortable expressing their views or answers even if they may be wrong.

    I don't think you can just say "bullying" is the issue or even that "light ribbing" causes this. While I agree it does contribute to the situation, there are so many factors to lead to suppression in the learning environment. Some comes from what kids bring in to the school from their environment, some comes from the adults in the school, some comes from miscommunication expectations, some comes from students seeing inconsistencies in treatment or on the flip side zero-tolerance with no willingness to see what led to an issue, etc.

    There is so much that leads to suppression in the learning environment.
     
  16. killoban

    killoban Rookie

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    I concur on that point, which suggests deeper segregation in the learning environment than we have now i.e. disbanding the notion of equality.

    Selective educational environments work best then ?
     
  17. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Apr 20, 2021

    To answer the original question, according to stopbullying.gov, there must be an imbalance of power as well as repetition of the "mean-spirited" behavior in order to move it into the realm of bullying behavior.
     
  18. killoban

    killoban Rookie

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    That definition assumes that all parties are equal, which is a false concept.

    The idea that there should be a balance of power between all artificially restrains those with greater ability, which indirectly casts the slower stream child/children in an unfavourable light. It gives the less capable the permission to hold back the more capable.

    That definition is a fully loaded political concept that only reinforces the idea of victim status.
     
  19. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Apr 21, 2021

    How do you reach that conclusion?

    To me it means that an action or words done or said to an equal is not the same as an action done when there is an imbalance of power.
    Two people who are on equal terms (for example friends on similar social standing in the class) may be able to say things to each other that would be considered bullying if the power was imbalanced and it was said to a person who didn't have the same social standing, wealth, or abilities.
     
  20. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Agreed. There is nothing equal about "imbalance of power".
     
  21. killoban

    killoban Rookie

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    Apr 21, 2021

    For there to be an imbalance of power, then there needs to be the concept of a balance of power i.e. "equality".

    The teacher/lecturer will always have more power than the pupil, there is the inherent imbalance. If they scold the underperforming pupil, as is expected, then their actions could be used against them i.e. cry-bullying, which causes a further imbalance of power, and not in a productive manner.

    At peer level the idea that two pupils are the same is a folly of thinking as there would not be the need to define such a case were it true. Without imbalance there would be no examples to learn from.

    The issue here is the manner in which the recipient infers the situation.
     
  22. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Apr 22, 2021

    Maybe that is part of the issue here. You think scolding a student for under performing is expected. What is your definition of scold?
    Scolding definition is angry rebuke (sharp disapproval or criticism) or a reprimand (rebuke). Assuming here that the sharp also modifies criticism.

    If teachers are actually scolding for under performing on a consistent basis, it is possible they are bullies and the students are not cry bullies. There are ways to interact with students in which you teach but are not rebuking them. It is also very likely that students in an environment where rebuke is an expected reaction, they shut down or they become hyper sensitive to negative reactions from anyone.
     
  23. killoban

    killoban Rookie

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    I think you highlight the issue in your reply, assuming the worst, portraying vicim status. As we have discovered, there is a natural and desirable power imbalance in the learning environment, why then the contention on the matter of discipline ?

    No matter the command issued by the those in charge, if the recipient is looking to be offended by it then they will, consciously or not.

    There is no question in the classroom of the authority laying firmly in the hands of those most responsible: the adult. Of whom is expected to behave responsibly, and so the scolding issued will be up to them, the adult placed in charge of the care of the children in his class.

    In my experience the quicker the plaster is removed the quicker the pain goes away. With such large class sizes these days it is not possible to devote too much time to those holding everybody back, so it is best to be conscience when disciplining a child i.e. firm, or to scold.

    I refute the idea that a child becomes hyper sensitive from that form of direct criticism, I think it is clear that the human mind becomes hyper sensitive as a result of others going out of their way to not “offend” them.
     
  24. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Apr 23, 2021

    I did not assume the worse. You chose a word that indicates bullying. You go further to defend scolding. It is possible to teach or provide constructive criticism in a manner that doesn't abuse the imbalance of power. However, as you have further explained, you've got no time for that.
     
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  25. killoban

    killoban Rookie

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    There comes a point where patience runs out.

    Either work harder to understand and keep up, or be singled out.
     
  26. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Apr 24, 2021

    Very enlightening.
     
  27. Tired Teacher

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    I think this is very true. In my corner of the world, everyone tip toes around problems instead of calling it what it is making kids and parents very easily offended.
    As for bullying, I learned so much about it over a long time span. We need to teach kids to stand together or stand alone when needed.
    They need to learn how to cope with people and situations of all kinds. Teachers need to step in if the kids do not know how to work it out. First, we need to give them a chance and the tools to do so. ( Parents are slacking when they feel their main goal is for their child to be happy at all times, so teachers have little choice.)
    I got to a point where I no longer used the word "bully." The reason being, parents and kids would call any unkind act bullying and it was a royal waste of time.
    I remember a time where kids learned some things from their peers about what was acceptable and what was not. A simple example: If parents had not taught their kids that picking their nose was uncool, their peers would tell them it was gross and the nose picker usually stopped. It would be considered mean here nowadays to tell the nose picker that their actions are gross.
    I saw a super interesting video years ago about a Japanese school. ( I don't remember if it was experimental or not.) The point of it was US teachers intervene too much and don't let kids solve problems. ( We tend to worry more about a kid getting hurt.)
    In the video, a little boy slapped a little girl in the face. The teacher purposefully turned her back as if she did not see it. The girl went to her seat and cried. A few minutes later another girl came and consoled her. She told the girl, " He is mean and hits, so why were you playing with him?"
    The documentary went through a time span of the school year. At 1 point, the boy who hit people had no one to play with and the kids told him why. Within a pretty short time, the boy learned not to hit if he wanted to play with others. It seemed a bit extreme to me when the teacher turned her back b/c it was so engrained in me to intervene. It was interesting though to think how not all cultures intervene as quickly as we do.
    I have had my share of bullies over the yrs and 3 extreme ones stand out. Maybe b/c they were ones who did not change for the better one ounce and wreaked havoc. They all 3 came from some of the most messed up families I have ever seen. ( DFYS should have taken those kids out of their homes, but did not. Extreme home violence and mental health problems...)
    Anyways, I agree with the philosophy of not letting kids feel like life long victims. They may have been a victim of an unpleasant or hurtful event, but they can and need to learn from it. If they can learn in a supportive environment, it will prepare them for life. The knowledge and confidence of knowing how to deal with bullies is much better than feeling like a victim.
    As adults, they will have to deal with all kinds of people without as much support. It will give them empathy and the skills to stand up for what is right.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2021
  28. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Connoisseur

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    I think if the criticism is direct ( without an emotional response), it can set clear boundaries for kids who do not "get it" with the group. Criticism like scolding are words that I think we probably all have different connotations and reactions to. You should directly be able to tell a student what they are doing wrong and what you expect.
    I had a very negative picture of the word "scolding"- finger wagging in face and screaming, demeaning for some reason. 1 of my 1st years teaching I saw the word "scolding" on a teacher's consequence chart. I was like : "Whoa! She is pretty extreme!" It turned out my picture of what she meant by the word was very different.
     
  29. killoban

    killoban Rookie

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    Much of what is taught is from previous experience because it is the easiest to remember, while much of what is academically taught for the role as teacher goes out of the window as soon as it proves ineffective.

    Different children respond in different ways and that's why segregation is important, as many can all to easily be influenced, and not for the better, so best reinforce best practices with a pool of likeminded and able talent.

    So there is no single rule but that ones that work, respectively.
     
  30. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    (added bolding to quote)
    Could it be that you actually know the definition of scolding is angry rebuke opposed to the person who wants it to mean something else? It is interesting that many adults in our society are afraid to tell another adult when they wrong.

    Here is one from Meriam-Webster to go along with my other ones. "to find fault noisily or angrily"
    Cambridge "to speak to someone angrily because you disapprove of their behavior:"
    Oxford Learners "to speak angrily to someone, especially a child, because they have done something wrong"

    An aside:
    This is why the whole "language changes" drives me crazy. You feel like you were somehow incorrect in your understanding of the written word because another adult does not know the meaning of the word that was used on his or her own chart.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2021
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  31. killoban

    killoban Rookie

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    Substitute the word that fits your system best, but it's largely academic.

    It's the system that matters, and for me that is one of tough love. There's nothing mean spirited about being brutally honest, when dealing with a one-to-many relationship it undeniably gets the intended results.
     
  32. Tired Teacher

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    OK Yeah, I know after seeing the definition that "angrily" is a part of scolding. ( The finger wagging in a face was my own picture of it.) I think you need to take emotion out of it if you have to directly tell someone what they did wrong and what you want. In defense of the other teacher, :) English was not her 1st language. I probably would have told her it sounded "harsh", but I did not know her very well.
     
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  33. killoban

    killoban Rookie

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    Multiple languages in the classroom is a different issue because that directly introduces a different, and potentially incompatible, class culture.

    My original point entirely rested on there being a harmonious group to best create a learning environment that reduced, or eliminated, mean spirited behaviour, of which a multicultural class could never hope to achieve.

    Would a mono-culture makeup therefore be the optimal solution ?
     
  34. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    No. Either or both can exist in a classroom. Either can suppress learning. Ultimately, regarding only actions/behaviors in a classroom, it is the authority figure in the classroom(s) that drives the thirst for learning by how they handle interactions between them and the students, between other students (not allowing one student to humiliate another) or identify when an issues is building, and the work that is provided to the students. When the authority is the bully, it is so much worse than bullying among the students.
     
  35. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    I think, as a profession, we have to get better at being able to tell a co-worker when something is incorrect, especially when you have proof such as a definition of a word. Continually defending the mistakes of others, thus allowing the incorrect information to be out there, does nothing to help the students.This is in no way judgement of your decision at the time. I fully understand the situation you were in. There are complex social issues with pointing out a mistake to a co-worker in many school environments and many other professions. I see this as a big problem.

    I understand there is the social dynamic, but the reason we don't correct others is because we see mistakes as a reflection of character which is a big problem in our culture. I wonder if it was years of scolding by authority figures when you didn't know something that caused adults to carry the shame of making a mistake. Hmmmm.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2021
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  36. killoban

    killoban Rookie

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    Schools currently stream children according to displayed ability, this can take a couple of years at the secondary level, but is not enough to form a cohesive class ready to be taught by teaching methods that will be well received by the majority.

    The teachers themselves, likely tired from the slog that is spreading themselves too thinly, and working in an environment where many do not respond well to their particular skills set, should gravitate toward such a sculpted model, in fact even be a part of it, which should remove the need for them to vent out frustrations that otherwise can get the better of a human, adult or adolescent.

    That kind of mean-spirited free environment, a realm of "equals", would negate the mean spirited culture at the adolescent peer level that is the true hurdle to academic self development, where everything just falls into place.

    I think it is clear that some of us will never agree, and that is where segregation is needed, only deeper, to appease all, and let each person self-select.
     
  37. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Apr 26, 2021

    Agree to disagree.

    The end.
     
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