What do teachers secretly discuss about students?

Prof. Dr. Kurt Singer

Violence in schools - only by students, or also by teachers?

When it comes to “violence in schools” everyone thinks of violence caused by Students goes out. That is surprising; because the young people report that they have experienced violence more often Teacher behavior as attacks from classmates. Hurting teachers humiliate, embarrass, insult, curse, or ignore children. Students are yelled at, mocked, and found to be stupid. Parents, fellow teachers and school authorities usually keep silent about the non-pedagogical actions of “individual cases”. It is taboo about hurtful teachers open to discuss. I am not writing here generalizing about the teachers, but about the abuse of power singlethat burdens countless young people. It disrupts learning and acts like a pathogen in the school system. Parents could prevent emotional harm if they sided with defenseless children with moral sensitivity and social courage.

Benjamin: School is a psychological war - abuse of power by a teacher

The alarm clock rings. It's a disgusting sound. It sounds like math. Probably after grade 6 ... Teacher Falkenstein says he sees black for my future ... I would be just too stupid ... Lately he's been picking up on me a lot. Because he knows I don't understand anything. That kind of satisfies him. On a normal day of questioning, Falkenstein looks for a victim with a piercing look ... The sweat runs down my forehead. I don't want to be questioned. Why doesn't he say who's going to come right away? Why doesn't he get me a six right away? ... Why does he have to torture me? I hate doing arithmetic in front of class. I always embarrass myself. Falkenstein asks really mean questions.

I'm shivering. I don't know anything anymore, the few stored chunks have fallen victim to the excitement ... My stomach puffs up. Goosebumps flits over my body. My turn It has to be like that. Falkenstein says in a deep, powerful voice: "Lebert, show us what I've been talking about for so long." ... I hate the way he says "Lebert". As if he was going to shoot me. As if he were taking me to the gallows ... As if in a trance I rise to the blackboard ... Why am I standing here? ... Draw a sign. Two ... Falkenstein is not satisfied. He releases me to my seat. After class he says: "You can forget about your degree ... As I see it, we have to be happy if the Ministry of Education does not introduce a grade 8 for you." He grins a big, wide grin. School is a psychological war. (Benjamin Lebert).

The secret violence is not punished - "There are black sheep everywhere"

This sentence mercilessly ignores the fact that offensive teachers injure human life. With Falkenstein's interrogation torture, violence through words breaks through unhindered over young people: not hidden, but public. The secret Violence is hidden in the silence of the school management, teachers and parents. No ethics teacher tells his cynical colleague that he crosses ethical boundaries: where ethics is the break with indifference, one-for-the-other. Everyone looks away. School authorities let mental injuries run wild. The hostility towards children culminates in the sentence: "These are only isolated cases." As if respect for human dignity did not consist in personal rights each Protect child.

Teachers are very important. That can make children small, but it can also make them big: through recognition, encouragement, through the helping relationship. Some grammar schools are named Albert Einstein. Do the teachers teaching it respect his words? “It is worst when the school works with the means of fear, coercion and artificial authority. Such treatment destroys the healthy attitude towards life, sincerity and self-confidence. It creates the submissive subject. It is easy to keep the school free from this worst of all evils: you give the teacher as few coercive measures as possible. Then the only source of the students' respect for the teacher is his human and intellectual quality. " The opposite is often common: teachers are given means of coercion, the worst of all means stir up: the fear.

“It's bad when he embarrasses me” - complaints about undignified treatment

Children complain less about that schoolthan about teachers who make life and learning difficult for them. These laugh at children, let them "hang" on exam questions, threaten and discipline them with bad grades. They read unsuccessful work without the consent of the young people, humiliate them by publicly presenting their weaknesses. Insensitive teachers call on students even when they do not speak up and when it is clear that they do not know the answer and are embarrassed. They frighten children with unsuspecting rehearsals, ask “trick questions”, mostly chalk up mistakes and do not recognize what has been successful. Offending teachers devalue the weak when they fail, instead of helping them when they struggle. In individual cases, teachers injure children so badly that they become mentally or psychosomatically ill - and everyone lets that happen. Many parents who care about their children leave their care at the classroom door.

No way generalize I see individual examples of hurtful teacher behavior. I was a teacher myself and have been working with teachers in supervision groups and individual counseling for decades; I accompany your commitment with respect. The humiliating among teachers are worth mentioning because they are lots Children acted by destructiveness Less Teachers suffer mental damage. The discouragement that happens to some teachers, for example, ten-year-olds who have just finished high school, is depressing. According to the “principle of deterrence”, it hails five at the first extreme of their child's life. As a red battlefield, the students get their work back with such student councils, with the "correct" bad grade. This shock treatment is a terrible "justice". But neither parents nor fellow teachers intervene against the nonsense of learning psychology and the educational injustice.

“Words can be like tiny arsenic cans” - Sebastian's desperation

Sebastian felt haunted by the disdainful question: “What have you you for looking at the grammar school? " - Such ugly words threaten children with the loss of belonging; they act like poison: “Poison that you unconsciously drink and that does its job,” writes the philosopher Victor Klemperer: “Language can be formed from poisonous elements or made into carriers of poisonous substances. Words can be like tiny cans of arsenic. They are swallowed unnoticed, and after a while the poisonous effect is there. " Some of them feel tiny “arsenic doses” for life that hurtful teachers administer to them with derogatory words.

Sebastian lost all courage. At each review of the essay, the senior student council reads out poor work without asking the young people's permission. He looks for unsuccessful sentences and exposes children by name. The return of the work is like a show trial: it takes place in the order of the grades, accompanied by ironic teacher comments. Sebastian is the preferred scapegoat. The psychological torment does not teach students to write essays; they learn how to ruthlessly pillory people with weaknesses. Writing is built on relationship, a means of expression aimed at the other. Despite the realization that children are more inhibited than encouraged and encouraged in their linguistic expression by the fearful climate, the parents' council does not want to interfere in "teaching matters"; these are human rights violations. Everyone is involved in ensuring that the senior university council suspends basic rights. Because, according to Erich Kästner: “The injustice is not only to blame for those who commit it, but also those who do not prevented.”

"The student is too sensitive" - ​​or the teacher unable to feel?

Sebastian, who had never had psychological problems until then, woke up at night because of the offending teacher and fell into a depressed mood. "The child is too sensitive," they said. Does the school push out sensitive people? I will let some "sensitive people" have their say:

  • Michael: School was the worst time of my life (Michael Ende).

  • Heinrich: Being called was a ceremony that made me shiver all my school days. And all these years I dragged the five behind me like a convict with a heavy ball at his feet (Heinrich Böll).

  • Günter: Teacher figures had spread expansively in my dreams. My school days were formative for me. Scars remained which, when healed, still itched. (Günter Grass).

  • Susanna: For me the school years were the worst of my life because of the constant feeling of powerlessness (Susanna Tamaro).

  • Thomas: I went to school like a scaffold. I went in trembling, and came out crying (Thomas Bernhard).

  • Hermann: Our teachers demanded virtues from us that they did not have themselves. School has ruined a lot about me, belittled me, humiliated me (Hermann Hesse).

What parents can consider

As a parent, remembering your own childhood will make it easier for you to empathize with your children. Those who get involved in self-perception do not bring the hard-hearted sentence over their lips: "It did not harm us either."

  • Have you had experiences with emotionally hurtful teacher behavior? Do you remember how you felt when you were at school when you were frightened, exposed, overwhelmed or humiliated?

  • Do you remember the words of the teacher that had an "like poison" effect on you: personally insulting or disparaging remarks? Have you experienced what it is like to be embarrassed or laughed at with weaknesses?

  • Which teachers did you feel lifted up by comments of approval? How did the relationship with the teachers influence your willingness to learn? Which “good teacher's words” have you kept?

Daniel's hurt turned into illness - parents accuse him of the crime

Some power abuse by teachers is not just educational Misconduct, but a criminal offense: insult, defamation, defamation, violation of human dignity. At the end of 2000, the Bundestag passed a law according to which non-violent upbringing is a child's right. It forbids "corporal punishment, mental injury and other degrading measures ”. Daniel's parents would not allow a teacher to damage their child's self-esteem. They took the boy out of class and sued in court; because the school board covered the teacher. The latter insulted the nine-year-old repeatedly, read a mocking letter that mocked Daniel as "stupid", and exposed the boys to the laughter of the class. Because of this insult, Daniel got wet at night. The body reacted to the emotional distress through the exposing teacher behavior with "crying through the bladder".

The judge summoned Daniel's pediatrician as a witness. He dared to touch the taboo of inhumane teacher behavior. He wanted not only to cure the symptom, but to uncover the school condition that caused suffering: the Offensethat made Daniel sick, the defamatory mockery that triggered a neurotic reaction. The court punished the teacher for violating the Basic Law with 2,200 marks in compensation for pain and suffering. That is mild; but the punishment points to the injustice of personal injury by a teacher ridiculing children.

The social apathy towards students - failed teacher training

School conditions that make people sick also arise from a lack of psychological teacher competence. The social apathy towards children is expressed drastically in the lack of teacher training. Students are not considered worthy to train their teachers to teach. Teacher officials, politicians and the university expect the adolescents to have teachers who did not learn how to teach. During their training they did not learn how to engage in learning with students, how to create a learning-stimulating relationship and how to deal with conflicts. For many students, learning becomes torture even though they would like to do it so much.

Teachers learn everything about in their training stuff, they don't learn anything about People. No wonder if they then treat people like things. This is a Cause of abuse of power by teachers; especially since teachers are not obliged to provide further pedagogical training. They could learn through them how to shape the educational relationship in a way that promotes performance. Because them educational If skills are lacking, they use violence. These include short tests like raids, threats with bad grades, public announcement of grades, penalties from a ministerial catalog of penalties that make the school appear as a penal institution. In addition, there is the officially prescribed boredom due to learning content that is far from life and the excessive demands of intellectually less capable children.

State-decreed violation - "Tighten the note screw"

Careless behavior towards students is also rooted in school structures. There is little sadistic Teacher. But doesn't it encourage emotional sadism to discourage eight-year-old children with grades? Discouragement is decreed by the ministry, contrary to educational knowledge. This advocates replacing grades at least in elementary school with individual learning reports. Organized lovelessness hits the weak above all, as if they had no dignity to lose, and as if they did not have to be particularly bad supportedinstead of being discouraged. Power-claiming teachers conduct abuse with the instrument of censorship. They do not even shy away from the language of torture: "Then I have to tighten the music screw."

Other regulations also encourage anti-child behavior:

  • the dictatorship of exams, unannounced rehearsals, and assault-like queries scare children;

  • the principle of selection subjects them to an inexorable pressure of rivalry;

  • the psychological nonsense of the level of conformity overwhelms many: different students at the same time, at the same work pace, with the same method to learn the same thing disregards individuality;

  • Having to sit still for hours in frontal lessons hinders the existential need for movement - including one's own mental movement.

Mental Sadism - A mentally ill teacher makes children sick

Teachers who hurt children emotionally do so out of their disturbed development. The fate of the teacher then becomes the fate of the pupil, as was shown by Mr A.This teacher was feared for his destructiveness. He "finished off the youths", gave them pages of punishment, hit them with "nuts" in spite of the prohibition of corporal punishment, and issued reprimands and arrests on a daily basis. He mocked weak children, made fun of them and exposed them. The teacher "knocked" the students' fives and sixes into the exercise book as if, according to one student, it gave him pleasure. Everyone was afraid of him, several young people reacted with stomach aches, headaches and nausea, others with nail nibbling, refusal to attend school and disrupted learning.

It was emotional sadism: the teacher humiliates Children deliberately, injured she consciously makes pupils dependent, practices violence over her out, she would like subject. A sadistic person torments others because they have "hardening of the heart". He cannot make himself a loved one. He balances this inability with the destructive passion of having power over others, making them suffer or seeing them suffer, shaming or humiliating them. Defenseless children are suitable for this.

"Like him to me, so I to you!" - Re-staging even experienced suffering

This sadistic teacher had to seek psychotherapy for a different reason. It showed that he treated the adolescents as violently as he was treated himself and practiced precisely the Tortures that befell him in his childhood. His father - also a teacher - stifled every independent movement and demanded blind obedience. He fought frequently and forbade the boy to cry during punitive actions. A recurring fearful dream of the aggressive teacher: “A giant is following me; he catches me with expanders, ties me up and hangs me from a tree branch, on which I fidget in panic. "

In his impotence, the child developed an unconscious desire to become like the hated father. Then he could escape oppression and become powerful himself. Without his realizing this, teacher A. took revenge on innocent students for the suffering he had suffered. He actively repeated what he had to suffer passively from the tormenting father. The neurotic career choices made by such teachers - even less disturbed ones - are the misfortune of hundreds or thousands of students. This is made possible by the indifference of teaching staff, school authorities, parents and parents' councils. They neither stand by the children nor help their difficult colleagues. Because of this moral apathy, there is no compelling reason for those “responsible” to examine teachers for their character suitability for pedagogical dealings with children. There are psychological possibilities for such aptitude test, but they are not taken into account.

Personal considerations for parents:

  • Do you let your child tell you how they experienced the teachers? What makes them happy or depressed at school, what they find interesting and what they have learned anew, what they criticize and want to change, what they are afraid of and what makes them courageous? Do you perceive emotional and psychosomatic symptoms?

  • Do children sometimes tell you about incidents in class in which teachers violate human tact? For example, when students are treated disparagingly, insultingly, unfairly or carelessly? Do you take the child's messages seriously without appeasing them?

  • Or do you perhaps find it normal when you, as a mother, experience how children are “badly done”, overlooked, treated unkindly, being reprimanded rather than supported in their learning? Do you “share” the child's school worries instead of leaving them alone, for example with remarks such as “That's not so bad” or “You have to go through this now”?

  • Do you share the problem of mentally hurtful teachers with other student parents? Do you discuss your wishes and suggestions in a parent group that could then influence the school?

Unequal situation and vulnerability of children - vulnerability

Understanding student suffering begins with remembering your childhood as parents and teachers. who yourself perceives himself better with the power of memory, becomes more sensitive to the children he is raising. For adults, the fateful sentence for children does not come off their lips so easily: "It didn't do us any harm either." When parents consider the harmful effects of mentally injured teachers, they don't look the other way so easily - possibly with the excuse: "If I interfere, my child has to pay for it." No: Above all, the children atone for the fact that their parents do not protect them enough from disrespectful teacher behavior.

In the unequal situation between teachers and students, the teacher's power contrasts with the child's impotence. In contrast to other professions, teachers have no equivalent counterpart who can defend themselves. That tempts some to gain power abuse. Because of the emotional sensitivity of the children, the responsibility of the educator is particularly great. Teachers meet malleable young people who are accessible to any impression and whose soul life is vulnerable. You must therefore bear in mind the obligation to treat the children with care and to respect their individual possibilities. Parents should side with powerless children in the face of the power imbalance between teachers and students.

Non-educational teacher - frightened pupils - silent parents' council

Conflicts related to the abuse of power by teachers are seldom resolved. Fears of authority and low emotional sensitivity prevent school parents from protecting their children. For example, the pupils of several classes complained because their German teacher insulted them: "How stupid are you in line again." - "You belong in the special school, not in the secondary school." - "Maybe you will learn Chinese, you are too stupid for German." The students called his dreaded interrogation "interrogation torture": He did not look for that Canbut according to what the students Not knowledge.

The teacher defended himself in the event of parents' complaints: Real school is not as gentle as in elementary school. The students would be grateful if he took them hard. He praised his mercilessness as a boon. Most parents remained silent, although they realized that it is impossible to speak freely and write freely under fear pressure. The parents 'council was loudly outraged at the teacher because he spoiled the students' joy in learning. But the parents' representatives did not dare to actively take the side of the children. One does not want to disturb the school peace - as if not that Teacher violated the school peace.

Matthias' mother risks the conflict and protects the boy from humiliation

She saw herself alone in the parents' council, but now wanted to stand up for her boy when the teacher mocked him because of his slowness: "You boring, you have straw in your head?" - "A snail is a rocket compared to you!" That should be fun. The boy was haunted by the insults while he was sleeping, and he complained of a stomachache: the boy mental Pain of humiliation and fear turned into physical Pain.

Matthias' mother was afraid of the teacher. But she went With her fear in the consultation hour, did not attack the teacher, but let herself be recognized: with her grief and the boy's psychosomatic distress. She said how insulting she found it to be exposing the child and asked him not to do it anymore. - The conversation turned out differently than the mother feared. The teacher defended himself: the boy would see it too dramatically and would be oversensitive. Perhaps he was embarrassed to be confronted with his indecent behavior, because he no longer humiliated Matthias.

So that students can learn better, we need civilly courageous parents like Ms. M .. They would have to raise moral objections when teachers violate human tact.

Why was the conflict productive? - Nonviolent parent appeal

  • The mother let the boy talk, listened, took him seriously. She didn't weigh down: “You don't have to be afraid” and she didn't overwhelm the boy with the claim: “You just have to endure it.”

  • She empathized with the children, imagined their helpless situation and felt pity: the innate reluctance to see someone else suffer. The mother gave in to this reluctance; he strengthened her courage to contradict .. She realized that here human injustice happens and was of the opinion: I have to do something to prevent it. That gave her the strength to stand up for her child.

  • your social courageTo intervene was a special form of moral courage. Ingeborg Bachmann calls it “bravery in front of a friend”: the courage to dare to contradict within one's own group, namely the parents' council. She had to overcome her childhood fear of authority.

  • She led the conflict non-violent: she did not become aggressive, but let herself be recognized and also gave the teacher a chance.

  • She stayed in the relationshipby visiting the senior teacher again later and telling him how happy she and Matthias were that he was no longer laughing at the boy.

  • “You can't beat him,” many said. "You'll burn your fingers there," warned others. "Why should you sit down in the nettles?", "That doesn't help, we have the shorter lever", "This will only harm the boy" ... Ms. M. was not intimidated and overcame her conflict-reluctance to stand up for the good.

Ways to resolve conflicts - parents can help

  • The hurtful situations perceive. Let children talk, listen to them, take their grief seriously. The incidents put down in writing.

  • Conversations with other student parents: about their experiences and views. Get in groups show solidarityto stand up for children together.

  • Parent talks with the difficult teacher, individually and in small groups. Make yourself understandable, let the students' need to be recognized, express your own wishes instead of attacking the teacher and speaking guilty.

  • Conversations between the parents and the class teacher, with open-minded colleagues, the liaison teacher (liaison teacher), with school psychologists and counseling teachers. Point out the non-educational situations and ask for specific help.

  • Convening a Parents meetingthat is designed by carefully prepared parent representatives.

  • Conversations between parents and school management, school council, School authorities, Ministry, based on written information about humiliating, overwhelming, tactless or oppressive teacher behavior; Develop solution steps.

  • Open discussions in the School conference; Strive for an alliance for change, seek common solutions. Educational assistance from fellow teachers.

  • Conflict-processing Conversations of the students with the difficult teacher, together with a trust teacher. Suggestions for changes.

  • Discussion in Parents Advisory Board. Discussions by parent representatives with the defendant teacher, the class teacher, the school management ... It is important to have the exact written form documentation of mental injuries.

  • Publicity produce with the help of the press and other media that draw attention to the learning-disruptive situation.

  • Supervision complaint, supported by education law, school regulations, official curriculum, civil service law, constitution, civil code, constitution, United Nations Children's Convention.

  • Make use of the right of petition, in writing with requests or complaints to the competent authorities, which MPs and turn over the state parliament. Legal action in the event of violations of personal rights.

Questions for parents

  • How do you behave if the children report pedagogically unacceptable teacher behavior? Do you listen carefully to your child and take their side?

  • Does the topic of “hurtful teacher behavior” come up in the parents' council? If not, could you break the taboo and encourage people to protect children from fearful teachers?

  • Can you imagine speaking to the teacher because of a hurtful situation: without attacking him and telling him how inaccessible he is, but: allowing yourself to be recognized with your concern, with your own thoughts and feelings, with the need of Child and your clear wish that the teacher should treat your child humanely?

A teacher stands up for children with social courage

Students in their previous class complained to Ms. D: “Please help us. The new teacher is so strict, she yells at the weak, gives so much homework that we have to sit on it all afternoon. Some children cry because they are afraid of her ... ”Ms. D. consoled her: the teacher is different, they get used to it and should talk to her themselves. That was too much for the nine-year-olds. The teacher noticed how tempted she was, not after hers conviction to act, but to look the other way: the taboo worked. Your student encouraged her to civil courage - and she lacked civic courage herself?

Now she wanted With daring the conflict because of her fear and asked the colleague for an interview. She did not blame her, but let herself be recognized with the sorrow of the children. The teacher defended herself: children would lie and were too sensitive. Ms. D. stuck to her resolution not to attack personally, but to try everything to keep the conversation going. In doing so, she succeeded in doing something unusual. She suggested that the colleague sit down with her and the class to hear about the children's fears and wishes.

The violence-healing power of listening - taking students seriously

The teacher was reluctantly ready to do so. Both agreed, the children only to listen tonot to make a counter-speech. It turned out to be a moving circular discussion. The girls and boys tactfully said what was bothering them. They talked about how it offends them when they are laughed at, how they are ashamed when they are exposed to failure. They complained how bad the weak found it that the teacher established a performance ranking according to which it was said, for example: Monika is the twenty-third of twenty-four. And they made requests: the teacher should address a personal word to them, and have a laugh too ...

Everyone was touched by this kind of listening, which had consequences. The teacher couldn't change her character. But she probably felt shame; because she tried to be more tactful, removed the discriminatory ranking and offended the children less. She stayed in contact with the helping teacher, probably relieved that she was no longer just an outsider.At the beginning of this communication there was listening. Ms. D. broke the taboo of destructive teacher behavior. She helped the defenseless children and showed them how to resolve conflicts non-violently. But she also helped the dreaded colleague; and she did something for herself: she kept her teacher self-image. We would need to break such taboos a hundred times over from teachers, schoolchildren, educationalists and politicians. Then we could alleviate student suffering and create better learning conditions. What were the elements of conflict management?

Important steps in conflict management - "move yourself"

  • Lookinstead of looking away; do not deny how much calamity verbal violence can be caused by individual teachers: words can hurt, "words can kill".

  • To listen: Give students the floor and take them seriously. If you want to feel, you have to listen.

  • Perceive: Don't be appeased, but let yourself be touched by what children say about school needs.

  • pity: Compassion is our strongest moral force; it touches the social conscience.

  • Social courage: When teachers hurt children emotionally, stand up for students with moral courage and enter into the conflict for more humanity in school.

  • In addition, it requires the political commitment of enlightened citizens and politicians who understand "politics as practiced morality". We should intervene for a humane school because, according to Bertolt Brecht: “The sensible does not break out of its own accord. Only as much reason prevails as the sensible enforce. Better than being moved is to move. "

Remove taboos in the case of hurtful teacher behavior - act in a child-political manner

Considerations about child-hostile teacher behavior must also be incorporated into child policy action.

  • The Remove taboosthat lies above non-pedagogical teacher behavior. Using the topic of “abuse of power by teachers”, raise awareness of the problem of human rights in schools.

  • The Protect the student's personal rights. We have to apply the United Nations Basic Law, Legislation, Criminal Law and Children's Convention to schools.

  • More Democracy in school reduces inhumanity: participation and codetermination of students, parents and teachers.

  • The Student rights strengthen. Children and adolescents are able to have a democratic voice: in the choice of material, teaching methods and coexistence at school.

  • Children that Right to criticize teachers and give school. They must have the opportunity to have a say in their “workplace”.

  • The Strengthening the rights of student parents. Parents should have a responsible say in all school issues that affect the well-being of their children.

  • Forbid chastisement. Exposure, insult, devaluation and careless treatment of children is to be punished as a violation of personality as well as corporal punishment.

  • Creating opportunities for children to avoid emotional violence, for example by changing teachers.

  • Neutral bodies for student help create how: contact telephone, independent advice centers that provide effective support for the children.

  • The students and Provide students with free legal protectionif they are treated unlawfully.

  • Lifelong teacher trainingso that teachers learn to teach in a student-oriented manner and can deal with young people in a conflict-processing way.

  • By Student representative - Ombudsman, ombudsman - build a lobby for students. She watches over the observance of the fundamental rights of schoolchildren. The dignity of the student must also be inviolable.


Literature used:

Benjamin Lebert: Crazy (KiWi)