Former nightclub bouncer, former riot control expert - Why do I want to teach? Wanted a Real challenge. -- Knitnan
Stopping violence with more violence is easy. It involves very little thought, and a mindset that makes the punishment more brutal than the crime. Stopping violence before it starts is more of a challenge. Especially when you want to avoid looking like a hypocrite.
The kids called him Mr Tough. He could physically lift any kid at Elementary but only if they asked him. He never dropped a one. And what he was opposed to above all other things was violence against others. Physical. Verbal. Passive-aggression. He didn't tolerate any kind of meanness. He endorsed talking it out. Between the kids. Between the adults. And most importantly, between the kids and the adults around them.
It didn't go well for lots of the adults, who clung vociferously to the concept that they were the grownups and their decisions had to be final. Or that children existed to be controlled.
Which was why Mr Tough held evening and weekend meetings in the school library for parents who were willing to listen.
Even the biggest spanking enthusiasts refused to argue with Mr Tough. But since they'd try to politely argue with him anyway, he started each session the same way.
"If I didn't listen to your instructions, would you hit me?" he asked.
There were universal shaking heads in the room.
And then he'd pick out the smallest kid in the room, who was eager to hang off of Mr Tough's arm like he was a living jungle gym.
"What about if it was this kid?" he asked. "What makes it different?"
Then there were uncertain murmurings. Mr Tough would gently put the kid down and list all the things that he and the small child had in common. They were both humans, to begin with. They were both capable of understanding rational arguments. They both had feelings. They both had a sense of injustice. They both could dot on to blatant hypocrisy when it was presented to them.
"You're not raising kids. You're creating adults," Mr Tough said. "The best way to create a lawless adult is to be a strict parent. How many of the grownups here had strict parents?"
An appreciable show of hands.
"How many of you ended up being incredibly rebellious? Lying, cheating, stealing, getting into drugs, whatever?"
Many hands stayed up.
"Your parents made some lawless adults. You shaped up in the end, and you thought that your upbringing was okay. So you hit fellow human beings when you decide the circumstances demand it." And then he would go on to explain how house rules could be followed if they were followed by all household residents. And demonstrated how negotiating could happen between an adult and a child.
He would also include some recipes that made hated foods tasty. And he would explain why kids hated those foods, and the changing biologies in the growing body.
The challenge that Mr Tough came for was not controlling the kids, but in teaching the adults how to behave rationally.
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