The Bully and the Nerd

Why does the bullying persist in our educational institutes?

One of the points raised by another blogger sparked a new thought. Just this morning, I was discussing the previous head of our institute and his bad policies and I came to a startling conclusion which came to fruition, when I read the reply to my blog. People in education and power often (not accusing everybody but many people are guilty as charged) use bully’s to control dissenters or people with different or more radical viewpoints in order to keep their policies and power over the place. They call it politics, which is all but a civilized term for it.

The case is similar for gifted students. A gifted student is more likely to be targeted by other students (and sometimes by envious or biased teachers) for abusive behavior because he or she may -

1. Ask many questions.

2. Hold different viewpoints.

3. Has an active imagination.

4. Is socially a bit awkward, poor or a combination of other factors such as different color, nationality, religion etc.

These students gifted as they may be; they are harder to control by a teacher or parents; therefore, to indirectly control them bully’s are encouraged to subdue them, sometimes verbally or physically, sometimes financially (through fines) for minor rule infractions or by enforcing new Draconian rules. It only gets worse in Universities where the stakes are higher.

And then we wonder where has all the imagination, out of the box thinking and curiosity gone ? It is gone, because to survive, get an education and a job, majority of the people fall in line and switch off their brains; the unlucky few who don’t, leave (voluntarily for better schools on scholarships), are expelled, jailed, turn to drugs, or kill themselves.

Look around you; similar stories are being played out in our immediate environment; the danger signs are all there. Cases like Amanda Todd were, are and will continue to be ignored till the point that the victims see no alternative other than drugs, alcohol or suicide.

Everyone will spare a moment for her death; they will all give their condolences. None will ever share her pain, except her fellow victims. Open to interpretation!

I was once accused of reading too much! True fact; and I was penalized for it.

 

14 thoughts on “The Bully and the Nerd

  1. sittingpugs October 18, 2012 at 8:24 PM

    I like your assessment of the challenges that intellectually inclined students face. It can be difficult to determine if a student’s questions is indicative of anti-authority tendencies or self-awareness mixed with unbridled curiosity.

  2. Poison Ivy October 18, 2012 at 8:49 PM

    Sasha – Bullying is a cause that deeply concerns me. I wasn’t bullied as a kid, but I credit that partly to excellent public schools with small classrooms, engaged teachers and where the really smart kids were encouraged rather than ridiculed.

    I’ve seen a lot of changes since my childhood long ago and far away. Though I’m a huge advocate of public schools, No Child Left Behind really did a number on our local middle school. From an outstanding elementary education, my stepdaughter went into a NCLB middle school where she, as an “average” student, was never nurtured or encouraged to find the love of learning. The smart kids were ridiculed. School for my SD became a fashion show and popularity contest (she’s a beautiful girl.) We learned she was actually doing her homework (Dad made sure of it) – but failing classes because she wasn’t turning it in. What? Why do your homework if you’re not going to turn it in?!! Because, we found out, the really popular, cool kids didn’t do their homework. If you were seen turning it in, you couldn’t be cool and were ostracized. In the meantime, all the effort by the school was put into passing the NCLB tests. How can a child learn to love to learn in that kind of environment?

    I remember one night over pizza when I listened to her ridicule a couple of her smart friends. “Kids who are good at school don’t have any common sense,” she said, pretty nose in the air. “They just don’t get it.” I took umbrage. “I was an A student – and I have a lot of common sense!” I shot back. “I wasn’t talking about you,” she sneered. “I was talking about kids my age.” Dad and I looked at one another and realized something had to be done.

    Dad pulled her out of that school as soon as he could and sent her to a wonderful, small private Catholic school where the “fashion show” aspect of school was immediately mitigated by uniforms. One distraction gone. In the new school, the popular kids weren’t just the jocks; they were also the smart kids (like in my own public school so many years ago.) After a year of dismay and anger at being ripped from her comfort zone, my SD started to succumb to the “reverse peer pressure.” She started to study. Instead of talking with her girlfriends on the phone all night about fashion and reality TV, we’d overhear her talking about classwork and after school projects. By graduation, she was an all A-B student and is now in her sophomore year at a top notch college which she loves and where she is thriving.

    I bring this up because peer norms have a lot to do with bullying. What is acceptable? I have written in other forums about my feelings about reality TV and how it is eroding kids’ sense of responsibility to others and sense of morality. I’ve worked in entertainment for years and know exactly how reality TV is made. That’s another post altogether, but there are outside influences on the disintegrating empathy among today’s kids that need to be looked at as well.

    May I suggest Jennifer Pozner’s excellent book, REALITY BITES BACK (http://www.amazon.com/Reality-Bites-Back-Troubling-Pleasure/dp/1580052657) as an introduction to these concepts?

    Your blog is outstanding; so glad I found it!

    Cheers, Poison Ivy

    • Sasha Hunter October 18, 2012 at 10:18 PM

      Yes, You are right. I was private schooled early in my schooling. The kids there were meaner and more class conscious than later government funded small public school which I loved to bits. Our teachers were friendlier and more approachable too.

  3. modernteacher27 October 19, 2012 at 12:02 AM

    Bullying has so many levels- in all areas of life. Levels? Meaning from a innocent young age to a higher intensity of continued harrassment. All areas? Age, race, intellect, gender, etc..
    How we react is so important to what happens next. We are shaped by our experiences.
    I was fortunate to be able to work in an inclusive environment where we got to set the culture and the rules to be followed. We all had to work as a community, we were responsible for all children and helped each other as adults. The benefits were two-fold.

  4. julienmatei October 19, 2012 at 8:30 AM

    You put words to my thoughts. Tks

  5. Whit October 19, 2012 at 7:04 PM

    What serendipitous timing! I was just talking to a good friend about this yesterday. We were talking about how much I hated high school and why, and I said I thought it was because I was a “smart kid” and that was really hard. And my friend didn’t understand– she said “but wouldn’t that make it easier because classes were easy?” But no, I was labeled as “gifted” very early in life– around the age of 5 or 6 I think, and it’s a heavy burden to carry. I was picked on and bullied so much in school (also didn’t help that everything from my political beliefs to my sexual orientation was quite different than my classmates), and by high school I was experimenting with drugs, cutting myself, and had developed an eating disorder. Fortunately when I went to college, I found an environment where I felt like I could truly be myself, and it made an immeasurable difference in my life. But those years of bullying were formative for me, and are part of the reason why I feel so strongly about equality in education, as well as the other areas of life.

    • Sasha Hunter October 19, 2012 at 7:57 PM

      Thank you Whit; for sharing your story.

  6. Amanda Embry October 20, 2012 at 9:49 PM

    Reading too much? And this was a teacher/professor criticizing you?

    I have to say, I was bullied for being a geek in high school (at the same time, those people wanted me to help them with homework, or do their work for them), but when I got to college, that ended completely. I never felt bullied or looked down on in college for reading, asking questions, doing my work, or doing well in my classes. I went to a small private college for two years, followed by a small public college. The first only had intramural sports and NO fraternities; the second had only a few sports and service fraternities. Those were important features to me, perhaps because in my school, the “jocks” were the worst offenders as far as the bullying went.

  7. tracyawillis October 21, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    Unfortunately this kind of behaviour moves from the playground to the classroom into the workplace, whether it’s an educational institute or some other kind of workplace. I’ve seen it far too many times. Every time it very much seems to be one or a small group of people having dominion over others who they find outspoken, free-thinking, physically or intellectually challenging in some way. I had a tough time at school and also faced bullying in the workplace at stages in my career. Just for being different – bright, inquisitive, diligent, willowy and a redhead. In my case it made me even more determined to overcome my tormentors and stand up for what’s right but that can be a lonely road to travel, especially in your teens. Like you I also got bullied for being an able reader – when I was 5 years old!

    • Sasha Hunter October 21, 2012 at 2:32 PM

      Thank you Tracy, for sharing.

    • Sasha Hunter October 21, 2012 at 2:45 PM

      I have walked the lonely road for years, Tracy; I am not the one who easily gets riled up. In fact, bullying started for me in the University (while pursuing masters and ongoing because I don’t like the people here much and it is a small town). Still, I learned a lot and that’s what is more important.

  8. Lynne Ayers October 21, 2012 at 9:27 PM

    Bullying is all too prevalent – this week, in my community, at the school my daughter went to, I heard of a deeply disturbing case – daughter was cornered behind the school and was about to be tied to a tree when someone stopped it. The mother herself was threatened that if she went to the police her daughter would pay … Sensibly the school has a zero tolerance for bullying and two students were suspended for 2 months and another expelled … to go to another school and do it there . It’s a mystery how these bullies target their victims and why, and why so many around them hop on for the ride instead of declaring outrage. Another case of bullying this week was stopped – the school had a link on their website (I think it was) and a fellow student reported it.

  9. Dawn Whitehand October 22, 2012 at 9:38 PM

    Unfortunately this bullying transits into Universities where lecturers – worried about their job security – don’t like students getting “above themselves” – have experienced myself!

    • Sasha Hunter October 22, 2012 at 10:40 PM

      I believe it is the attitude faced by countless college students around the world where teachers try to damage their upcoming competitors/colleagues.

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