The Blackboard Jungle

days spent beating back the seeds of doubt

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

There's power in disclosure. Power over others.

A kid in my class is spending his lesson working on an essay in my room, because he knows if he goes to Science today he'll punch someone. He has major anger management issues, and I reason that this, certainly, is a way to manage.
He overhears me making a personal call on my mobile, and asks me what's wrong with my mother, why I'm calling a hospital.
I tell him she suffers from long term terminal condition, how she's also undergoing an operation for something unrelated this weekend, and I need to make sure I visit her.

The disclosure on my part prompts a disclosure on his.

He tells me about his mother's IBS, how when he was fourteen, he saw her in the throes of an episode, so to speak, standing in the kitchen, and she was unable to move in time to protect him from the sight of her losing control of her bowels in front of him. He describes in the plain factual tones I recognise of anyone whose family has grown used to long term unmentionable illnesses, how he carefully took his shoes off, tiptoed around the edge of the kitchen, and helped her, cleaned her, put her to bed, then made the room clean again.

There's a power in disclosure. A power over others.

A day later, he tries to trick the staff into modifying his timetable, to remove the lessons he dislikes, and have more of those he does. Taking his timetable and cross checking it with the school's timetable, I notice he's given himself eleven hours of maths a week, with a variety of teachers, seven hours of english, and little else. He's annoyed I've spotted his adaptations are unauthorised. Knowing his previous anger management problems, I duck the issue, somewhat, send him to a colleague to get permission for his changes. He screams and punches the wall next to her head until there's a hole in it.

Disclosure is a trickily negotiated process with troubled students. It's a form of coercion at times.
I usually avoid it.