The Blackboard Jungle

days spent beating back the seeds of doubt

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Many ideas continue to brew and rumble, based around a post below on bullying.

Firstly, an email, from Clarence Fisher (quoted with permission):

I had to write after reading your post about bullying.

I cried.

I've been there as well. I was a kid challenged in school by bullies and I know exactly what you and your young student feel. Living in this small town, I struggled with it up into my mid 20's. Seeing the same people who had treated me so poorly years ago still living here, wandering the streets as working adults.

I know as well what you go through as a teacher. I rarely see it. It just doesn't seem to be a problem; but I know it is....

Now what to do about it.......?

BTW; I really have to tell you that I love your writing. From this small town to downtown London is a stretch, but you bring me across the ocean with your words; it is excellent.
Another email, from Emma Clark:
After I mailed you yesterday I read BBJ, and wanted to say what a fantastic entry that was - because for some reason it reminded me that I was bullied, and how it felt. Which is a very valuable thing to remember if you are teaching.

If there was stuff like this in the TES I might want to read it occasionally (is it me or is it the most DULL newspaper ever? I read the forums online nowadays but none of the content ever...) Do you write for publication? You should.
A thought: I was tempted to ask those who had experienced bullying if you'd tried speaking as an adult - in tones of disinterest, even if feigned - to those who had once been your bullies. One thing life has taught me in repeatedly corroborated detail is that we all bully - to some degree - beyond that which we may have intended.
We simply don't think about others very often, and so fail to realise quite what our words have done.

And then a recantation: I disregarded the idea. I assumed readers would not ever agree with me that we depend more closely on our fellow man than vengeance allows us. Reading Clarence's next mail, I found eloquent confirmation:
Have I confronted them; no. But it is interesting as I lead my reasonably successful life (happy marriage, 2 kids, university educated, economically reasonably sound life) and see those same people around me fight with alcohol and drugs, their spouses, and their children.They know and I know.

It may be crass, but who once said: "The best revenge is living well."

And yet: recantation dislodged, eventually, crumbled by this verse, from the wonderful blogger Oblivio:


Nothing is uglier than
they did it to me

This has nothing
to do with whether

they did it to you,
which I have to assume

they did
Still, whatever

they did, your life remains


When you say they did it
to you

you give your life to them,

You say,
I'm damaged

and you're the reason
I'm damaged

The damage is your proof
It's Easter end of term break here in the UK. Back on the 11th April. Rest easy.