Friday, March 11, 2011

MA: bullying & derech eretz

Driving to preschool, listening to WBUR's Morning Edition. Marty Walz is being indignant about the failure of Massachusetts schools to comply with the new anti-bullying laws. And the Toddles is rapt.

Do you know what she's talking about?
he blinks. No. But she's not happy with the schools.
Right. She wants them to work on stopping bullying, which is when you make someone feel bad about who they are.

We work through some examples of targets - a Muslim girl in a headscarf, a Jewish boy with a kipa, a kid with food allergies, or when i went to school, a kid with glasses was picked on for having to wear them. The Toddles shook his head. Maybe this is why all of the Jewish kids should go to school together, because then they will all be  the same? 
I grinned. And are they the same, at your school? 
He paused. Shook his head. Looked worried.

Yesterday, Y made me feel bad because of an accident that I did. Is he against the law?

That's a kid getting mad - and there's a difference between being mean to someone, over and over and over, getting other kids to be mean to them, too - and a kid getting upset. Kids get upset! It happens. The difference is the culture of the school, like Marty said. Your school thinks a lot about derech eretz, so even if a kid gets angry once in a while, the teachers are helping them learn how to be good, caring people.

The kid thinks this over.

Then it's good that you changed the school, he says, decisively.

Absently, weaving through traffic, I realize that something didn't quite parse. Wha?

My first preschool didn't show much derech eretz. So it's good that you changed to this one.

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