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Teacher Gone Wild


A New Hampshire teacher has been disciplined and is being monitored after issuing a (shall we say?) peculiar essay prompt to her 12th grade class, according to local news provider WMUR.

The prompt in question: "If you knocked your brother to the ground, would you urinate in his mouth?"

Jack Robertson, superintendent of the Governor Wentworth Regional School District, claimed that the teacher designed the question to motivate students to think creatively and improve their writing. He noted that the teacher, who previously had a good track record, did not exercise good judgment by assigning the question to the class. (Ya think?)

"While on the one hand, I appreciate her interest in trying to get kids to write, there are other topics and there are more appropriate prompts that could create that same kind of interest," Robertson said.

The question had nothing to do with the book that the class was currently reading. School administrators discovered the questionable question when a student from the class asked another teacher for help with the topic. That teacher quickly informed the principal of the essay prompt.

(See also: a video report on the story from CNN.)


This teacher, in fact, has shown her ignorance of motivation for writing. How many students would enjoy this topic? Even if a couple of students wanted to write about this, most would be repulsed. Topics that would be more relevant to students would be about issues they really live with and topics about which they have a personal interest in sharing their knowledge and opinions. If this is the best she can do, she needs to find a job in another field and stop causing the teaching profession in general to attract criticism and seem like a joke.

If I had been given that prompt --- ever, I would have said, "No, it is inapproriate." I took a poetry class with a reknowned poet several years ago. It took a great deal for the poet to get it across to many of the "budding" poets that continual yelling, screaming and borderline language caused the audience to lose interest.

One pivotol word uttered once in the poem either loudly or quietly was far more effective than the tirades the class was subjected to by poets who just didn't understand. Teachers who teach writing need to be cognizant of what good writing is as well as what truly motivates writers. If you have any questions about a prompt check in with your team. Again, students look to the teacher for leadership. The leadership role was abdicated in this particular circumstance.

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