Who Cries for the Mega-Hater?

Practical decision making in the Negative Zone.

Practical decision making in the Negative Zone.

In panel one, the Mega-Hater is really pointy looking and aggressive. In panel three, on purpose I gave his headgear, or spines, or whatever, a more wilted appearance, to suggest that he feels badly, and is crying. I wanted the Mega-Hater to match his Emoticon. This particular piece was drawn with real purpose, during a boring meeting, to make a strong point.

The school year is into endgame, and from my recent posts, it’s pretty clear that behaviorally, the students are “off the chain” in grade seven. Misbehaviors reported in our computer system are on a consistent rise, with the infractions more than doubling in volume over units of measured time. There are several serious repeat offenders, who make up an aggressive block of those infractions. In many ways, teachers are given contradictory advice on how to deal with such repeat offenders.

On the one hand, we are told to document everything, and enter as much as possible into the computer system. This is to provide the most evidence possible for when a response needs to be made by administration, and is logical on its face. Evidence would need to be in the system for actions to happen…that’s the very idea of due process.

However…it gets to a point, often, where a student making these massive numbers of disciplinary infractions becomes BEYOND the system itself. If this hypothetical student were to make constant threats against teachers and students, be relentlessly truant, and already have a record in the law enforcement system, you would think that evidence is in place, and the school could easily act to protect the needs of the many. Instead, what happens is a kind of dysfunctional “coping mechanism” by the adults, who lack any real authority in the situation.

Advice comes from administration that sounds like this: “Yes, he isn’t in uniform, and sure he was cursing at you, but he hasn’t threatened anyone today…that’s a good day, that’s improvement.” Or…”we can’t BE sure he stole that iPad, it seems like kids just give them to him….so you need to let it go.” It gets to a point where you are encouraged to both report and ignore, where out of classroom personnel tell the story of, “sure…he’s a problem, but he throws things at me, so I can’t deal with it.”

This is, of course, a hypothetical student, True Believers.

Let’s imagine that I didn’t have this hypothetical student, that he was on the other team of teachers’ line of students. Then I am encouraged to report and ignore, to simply not engage the student for the fear of escalating the situation. When you consider that context, the conversation above concerning Mega-haters becomes clear. There’s no motivation for teachers to act outside their own balliwick of students, their own zone of control…only a series of passive aggressive psychological deterrents.

When asked about the students moving forward to grade eight, I found myself needing to be honest. I spoke to statistics instead of judgements, setting the direct tone for the conduct that we have empirically seen. Late in that speech, I got to my opinion about next year for them, in grade eight.

I said, simply enough, that I felt that a significant number of them would “become meaner over the intervening months. That the Crucible of Time would distill them to a purer kind of evil, through the loss of the waning innocence that guides them now.”

Really quite poetic, huh? I have my moments.

That, in turn, inspired this late night sketch:

Awww...a chibi baby hater!

Awww…a chibi baby hater!

That’s pretty much what I was thinking of….the idea of when cuteness “wears off.” Several of the students are still cute, still use the lexicon of emotions that are related to being small, and adorable. For some, that lexicon of interaction has already needed to change, as they have growth spurts, and voices change. As that process happens, the anger and frustration of the teen years will take hold, with no real learned consequences to contain the young people…for there haven’t been any.

It’s a depressing outcome, and to a significant degree, the school’s fault. Given the staff turnover happening, there’s a good chance that the teachers receiving this purer breed of hater will be philosophically and professionally unable to handle them.

Going back to the Mega Hater in the lead art…you’ll note that he looks sad, like he’s going to cry out of his giant monster eyes. Suffice it to say that was inspired by at least in part by an imposition of reality that I was privileged to witness the other day. I was glad to help set it in motion…

…even though that Mega Hater wasn’t in our quadrant.

Next Issue: The Last Clone!

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