In narrative fiction, there’s certain appeal to a teacher with a fiery commitment to their pupils’ academic development. The strong, dedicated educator who absolutely won’t give up on a kid, and won’t let them give up on themselves, is a celebrated archetype of schoolyard dramas in both animated and live-action formats.
But while fans might cheer as the teacher protagonist of an anime or J-drama shows they care enough to physically drag a truant student back to the classroom, that’s not always the best course of action in the real world, as evidenced by what happened in the town of Handa, Aichi Prefecture.
Sometime last fall, an elementary school boy started showing up to school less and less often, and once winter rolled around he stopped going almost entirely. His homeroom teacher decided she should pay a visit to the boy’s house to encourage him back to go back to school, and so she rang the doorbell of his family’s home on a school day in mid-December.
The boy’s parents were not home at the time, but he himself came to the entryway to talk with the teacher. However, he still refused to go to school and eventually broke off the conversation. The teacher then followed him into his kitchen, picked him up, carried him to her car, and drove him to school.
The boy’s older sister, who was home at the time, witnessed the academically motivated abduction and called her parents, who in turn contacted the school before the teacher arrived on campus, and the boy was allowed to return home without attending classes.
“I wanted to create an occasion for him to return to school,” explained the teacher, adding, “I thought I was doing the right thing.”
The school board, however, disagreed, and last week reprimanded the teacher for “conduct that ignored the boy’s feelings,” and has apologized to the family. It’s even more baffling to imagine what the teacher planned to do if she had successfully made the boy attend classes for the day, but then didn’t voluntarily come to school the day after. Was she planning to repeat the process every morning?
While educational zeal in and of itself is an admirable trait in a teacher, the boy’s dwindling attendance was related to interpersonal trouble with his schoolmate friends, and his mother says that out of respect for his mental state, she did not want to force him to go to school. One could make the argument that at a critical age in a child’s educational development, an extended absence from the learning process can have long-term detrimental effects, but the same can be said about emotional trauma in one’s formative years too.
In this case, if the teacher really was concerned about the boy falling academically, then scheduling a conference with his parents to discuss alternative educational formats really would have been the wiser choice than unilaterally deciding to essentially kidnap him.
Source: Yahoo! Japan News/CBC TV via Jin, Chunichi Shimbun
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