Not All School Bullies Are Children.

Jim Henson

Dear Miss,

No doubt you have taught so many children in your years as a teacher that you have forgotten us individually. I wish I could say that I have forgotten you but you are unforgettable in the worst possible way.

Allow me to refresh your memory..

‘STAND ON YOUR CHAIR!’, your voice boomed across the room.

The classroom fell silent (as was the case when some poor kid was in for a telling off) and on this occasion the kid was me.

You were my primary school teacher but I could never take to you. It was dislike at first sight.

I remember you as a tall, thin woman with slate grey hair which hung limply either side of your face. You never wore make-up and and your piercing eyes were magnified by those unflattering glasses you wore. I recall you wearing Jesus sandals which drew attention to your man-size feet and unsightly toe hair but most of all it was your unsmiling face which unnerved me.

Why, what’s the matter, that you have such a February face, so full of frost, of storm and cloudiness? ~ William Shakespeare

Some teachers are charismatic but you and your ‘February face’ had the charisma of a wheelie bin. Truth be told, I was scared of you.

I don’t remember any of what you taught me, I just remember you and an incident which stuck in my memory like a thorn sticks in the flesh.

I didn’t like school – it was too loud, smelled of feet and my being there meant that I missed Pipkins. School was all about surviving and my survival was avoidance. It was my safety valve in any situation that I wasn’t comfortable with. However, my strategy would prove to be my undoing on that particular day.

That Day

So, we did craft lessons, and this one was sewing. Our task was to stitch two sides of felt together using a blanket stitch in a shape of our choice. I chose a fish. We were supposed to take our work to you if we made any mistakes. I’d made a mistake fairly early on (I was crap at sewing) but the thought of walking up to your desk made my stomach want to part ways with my lunch. So I stayed put and prayed that the fire bell would go off.

It didn’t.

You decided to walk around the classroom to check on our progress. I knew you were behind me without having to look. It suddenly felt cold despite it being a warm day, though this was probably due to your six foot frame blocking out the sunlight. I froze up from the inside, except for my cheeks, which were crimson. After what seemed like ages, your large hand reached down and snatched my work away from me. Seconds passed, then your voice boomed out..

“STAND ON YOUR CHAIR!!”

The classroom fell deathly silent. You could have heard a mouse fart, it was that quiet!

Every child was looking at me. Me, the child who tried so hard to be invisible. Of course, the problem with trying to be invisible is that sometimes it backfires and you find yourself becoming totally the opposite.

You bellowed, “THIS IS WHAT WE DO TO RUBBISH!!” and in front of the class – you ripped my work to shreds. The wobbly stitching gave zero resistance and with one final act of malice, you threw it at me.

You made me stand on my chair, hands on head, for the rest of the lesson and into playtime.

I was eight years old.

I wanted the ground to open up beneath me. Tears stung my eyes but I refused them permission to fall. There was no way that I was going to give you the satisfaction of seeing me cry! So I just stood there looking at my shoes through blurry eyes wishing to be anywhere but there.

I certainly know of a few children who would have stood on that chair smirking at you and I have been that child when re-enacting it out in my mind. In reality, I was a sensitive girl whose behaviour at school was misinterpreted as shyness or disobedience. My sensitivity made me a target for bullies for my entire school life but that day, I learned that not all bullies are children.

You humiliated me in front of the entire class.

Your lasting impression on me, Miss, was one of fear.

Humiliation damages young children – it undermines their self-esteem.

A good teacher doesn’t intimidate their students. Humiliation isn’t character building – it’s abuse. Humiliation is rooted in power and some teachers need to humiliate children in order to control them. What you did was wrong. It was an abuse of power – I just didn’t know it then because grown ups had to be obeyed. We are hardwired to obey those in control, especially as children, so I didn’t question it. I just did as I was told and tried as best I could to deal with the hurt in order to be able to walk into the classroom the next day.

You were a bully. You probably had reasons why you acted the way you did but it doesn’t excuse you. There is no excuse for bullying. Ever.

As Jim Henson said,

Kids don’t remember what you try to teach them, they remember what you are.

I’ve remembered you for being a bully and the monster of my nightmares.

However, being older and somewhat wiser, I am able to see you for the imperfect human being that you were and the monster fades away into insignificance.

You most likely graduated up into the big school in the sky a long time ago and perhaps after being such a miserable cow to little children, you found a sense of peace?

Maybe one day I’ll find mine.

Regards,

T

Scan5a

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33 thoughts on “Not All School Bullies Are Children.

  1. What a nasty piece of work she sounds! Terrible that people like that get to be in postions like a teacher where they are supposed to be setting good examples. I’m not surprised that memory has always stuck with you :-(. xx

  2. How horrible. You’re so right: bullying leaves scars of the most horrible kind – invisible ones. I’m so glad my kids are being educated in an era where at least this kind of bullying has been all but eradicated. Now if only we could say the same for other types of bullying behaviour …

  3. I feel an overwhelming urge to go all Gene Hunt on her via a handy time machine. What an awful sadistic old bat – makes you wonder why she ever went into teaching. (((((hugs))))

  4. What a horrible woman. She reminds me of Miss Trunchbull. I remember the class 1 teacher forcing me to drink the milk, even though I never liked and still don’t like milk. I tried to tell her that but she wouldn’t listen and I was almost throwing up trying to donw the warm curdled liquid. She was old school and there’s no way teachers would get away with that these days. Thank goodness eh?

    • They were certainly a different breed but there were some good ones who genuinely cared about the children in their care… I hated the smell of school milk. Oh I’m having flashbacks lol

  5. That’s horrible! It’s incredible what teachers used to get away with ‘in our day’ and thank goodness they can’t behave like this now. I had a teacher when I was 10 who hit us over the head – with rulers, his knuckles, chalk… I once saw him hit a child with the school bell. I have no idea what he taught us, but I still remember him hitting us, giving us lines and the exact tone of voice as he did it. I’d assumed he would be dead too, but his granddaughter lives next door to my sister and apparently he’s still alive!

    • She was in her 50’s when she taught me and I suppose it’s quite possible that she’s still around now…
      We had many teachers who liked intimating children. Some were quite violent, as you’ve pointed out and we don’t have to go that far back in history. I think corporal punishment was banned in 1987.

  6. Oh bless you, I am so sorry that you experienced that. I cannot imagine how horrific that felt and it was so wrong for that to be done to you.
    Hoping you find peace soon, you deserve it *hugs*

  7. Tracy this has broken my heart reading this, it’s just plain dispicable, let’s just hope that Karma caught up with her. You send children to school to be cared for, taught and watch out that there is no bullying going in in school. I suppose though this is life, you get these vile people in your adult life at work but to pick on the weak frightened child, well I can’t write the words I feel about this. Today we are more aware of these things going on and something like thus but slightly different happened to my eldest son a couple of years on in secondary school. There we sat, Kevin on 1 chair, Tom in the middle and me in the other end chair. It was a maths teacher, older with a beard, yes if you looked at him, he looked like a teacher. I sat for a few minutes listening to him run Tom down, personally and about his work. I fumed and then I found my voice, I leant forward and he lent back, then I mouth opened and I said…..YOU DON’T LIKE MY SON DO YOU?? He lent even further back and asked why I had said that (a few uncomfirtavpbke shuffles from Tom & Kev) I just replied, YOUR WHOLE BODY LANGUAGE. The bloody ignorant git said well yes, if he doesn’t want to learn, I can’t be bothered to teach him. We got up & left did the other interviews and then I went on the war path. Found his year head and then the headmaster….OMG it was taken so seriously. After an investigation, it was found they had put him in the wrong set. I’m sure it wasn’t because of me but he left the school that term. A teacher is there to help and teach, did he not see that Tom didn’t understand a thing he was on about. All I can say is I was proud of myself, it was all spur of the moment, if I had had to plan what I did, I would have been a nervous wreck. I can’t tell you how proud I was of myself, Kev hadn’t picked up on any of it until I went mad. I was looking after my boy AND I will continue to look after all my family well I have the strength to do so. I HATE BULLIES. Xxx

    • Thanks Sheerie, I’m so glad you stood up for your son, you’re right to be proud of yourself! Sometimes doing things spontaneously is far better than planning them. I’d have liked to have been a fly on the wall that day. πŸ˜‰ Unfortunately, I didn’t tell anybody about my problems and what was going on with me went a lot deeper than a change of set (or class for that matter) but it was the 70’s and I was a girl who hid her problems well. Thank you for the comment dear lady, you’re a special mother. πŸ™‚ xXx

  8. This post brings back some memories. It’s funny how you can’t remember the teachers that were great for you, but the ones that brought fear come flooding back in seconds! This post has also made me thankful I fought for my sons place in the special school, I was worried about other children picking him out because he is different but the right teachers are even more important x

    • As it happens’ I do remember the good ones and they made life a bit more bearable in the classroom but they were few and far between..
      That is a problem with S being in mainstream, he does stand out but at this age (6) it’s just a case of him being different. His peers are used to him and he is accepted but that might not always be the case…but I’ll be ready for when it happens. It’s very important that teachers understand a child’s needs. I slipped through the net the entire time I was at school. Nobody questioned my behaviour, they just labelled me as ‘shy’ or ‘can’t be bothered’. Neither was true. If only one of them had spotted that I was struggling with sensory stuff, my school life might have had a positive conclusion. X

  9. I remember teachers like that too and I’m so sorry you had to go through that. It is a shame they allowed people like that to become teachers but that’s the way it is. I just hope my boys don’t come across someone like that. xx

  10. Sweetheart that makes me want to cry…..what a viscous old cow…..who knows why she went into teaching you were so unlucky to have her when you were young+impressionable.I was brought up in rural Brecon+the school was so small we had one teacher for age 5 til 11.We had a cruel evil teacher as well Mrs Jones who used to put the fear of god into us…..shouting,scowling,making us go out into the cold in winter+scorching heat in summer if we didn’t understand something.One day she noticed a little girl had earrings on + horrifically pulled on the little girl’s earring and ripped her ear open.Everything was hushed up but we didn’t see her again she was replaced by a kind lovely lady who made school a fun place to be love you hugs xxx Franca

    • So sad to read this Franca but not surprised…
      You’d think that teachers would at least like children to want to work with them but this doesn’t seem to be the case with many of the old school teachers. I think they were in the wrong profession.
      Love you too xXx

  11. That’s so sad. I can vividly remember being smacked and made to sit with my hands on my head because my Mum had helped me to make a Puppet – I was 5 years old. I don’t remember ever telling anyone about it but it stayed with me for a long time.
    When my daughter was in primary school (she’s now 23) her teacher victimized her. Melissa was dyslexic and had a support teacher, she generally found school difficult and it was hard to make friends, it was a battle getting her to go in the morning so when she was put in this particular Teacher’s class things went from bad to worse. On one occasion she didn’t have her trainers so he made her run round the field in her socks and just to shame her more he wiped the blackboard with her PE bag. Of course Kids don’t tell you these things (As I probably didn’t either) until something reaches crisis point. I did obviously complain and she was moved to a different class, what was said to the teacher I have no idea. I’m happy to say Melissa went through university and is a qualified nurse. I do believe it’s your inner strength that gives you a mechanism to cope, maybe never accept, but keep moving forward.
    Bullying is totally un-acceptable and from an adult? – Criminal.
    Best wishes to you, Mel xxxx

    • It makes me so sad to read how that teacher treated your daughter, Mel. What kind of teacher bullies a vulnerable child? Making her do things to shame her? What on earth was he thinking?
      I agree with you…you find a way to cope and it does come from within. It’s some kind of self-preservation thing. You cope or you go under. Sadly, not all children cope and, for me, the bullies should be held accountable. Sometimes I don’t know quite how I didn’t go under but the mental scars will always remain with me. This teacher was one of many bullies in my school life.
      I’m glad to hear your daughter went through uni and became a nurse. Good on her. πŸ™‚ xXx

  12. I must have been lucky, I had good, kind primary school teachers. But the girls (oddly enough) had a sewing teacher who was known throughout the school as a battle-axe! I can hear her ranting, now!

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