An Unpleasant Memory

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Role model?

I just happened to think of one of the more unedifying experiences I had, teaching in a public high school. I deem it wisest not to say which school.

In this school there was a set of kids, all boys, who wanted to be… er, convicts. Jailbirds. That’s what they wanted to be, once they’d finished high school. They were getting a start on it by learning prison slang and trying to dress like convicts–you know: with that thing on your head that makes you look like a condom (credit my wife for the witticism).

The normal kids were afraid of these kooks. In one classroom there were only two normal kids, a girl and a boy, and all the rest these Rahway Prison wannabes, and I think if you were to tap either of those two normals on the shoulder, they’d jump out of their skin. They were that scared.

I have absolutely no explanation as to why the school allowed this. As for the Convict Kids’ parents, I suppose it’s possible they didn’t know. In most households in this school’s district, both parents had to work full-time to pay the bills. It wasn’t a cheap neighborhood. So maybe they didn’t know. I’m trying to be charitable.

But the school teachers and administrators knew. And did nothing. Maybe they kind of liked the slogan, “From the schoolhouse to the Big House.”

About leeduigon

I have lived in Metuchen, NJ, all my life. I have been married to my wife Patricia since 1977. I am a former newspaper editor and reporter. I was also the owner-operator of my own small business for several years. I wrote various novels and short stories published during 1980s and 1990s. I am a long-time student of judo and Japanese swordsmanship (kenjutsu). I also play chess, basketball, and military and sports simulations. View all posts by leeduigon

20 responses to “An Unpleasant Memory

  • Unknowable

    It staggers the mind, just how quickly civilization has deteriorated into something unthinkable, just a few decades back. The generation born since 1980 or so, is inscrutable to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leeduigon

      I wonder if “thewhiterabbit” has encountered this in his school. But he lives in a less benighted region of the country than I do, so maybe he hasn’t. We shall see.

      Liked by 1 person

      • thewhiterabbit2016

        I have the luxury of substitute teaching because I want to, not that I have to. I see it as a way to be immersed in society while retired. In my school district most of the teachers are Christian women. We open the school day with a moment of silence, and above the American flag it says “In God We Trust.” In three years I have only seen one fight. I am not racist, but the minority students are the worst ones (Asian students excepted, but not too many of them). Arkansas is a Bible Belt State. If you are looking for a more Christian place to live, the Natural State is a good choice.

        Liked by 1 person

  • Erlene Talbott

    The only way I can even approach an understanding is to remember that the Scriptures warn us about the last days. We know our enemy, satan, is pulling out all the stops to do as much damage as he can before his time is up. Playing upon the weaknesses of the flesh, he has a lot to work with and those kids who were and are not privileged to be brought up in a God fearing home and really victimized and are used to victimize as many others as possible.
    When I was in school, there were some rather bad apples, but they knew their boundaries, and that the majority of the community was determined to keep them in check. They did some sneaky things, but did not dare be so blatant.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leeduigon

      Well, at least they had an easily attainable goal. It can’t be all that hard to become a convict.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Unknowable

        About thirty years ago, I took some technical courses and was surrounded by students 10-15 years my junior. I was appalled by their conduct. They were egocentric, would cry foul instantly if contradicted in any way and were quite willing to allow blame for their mistakes to fall upon the shoulders of others whom were innocent in the matter. It was a striking change from what I had experienced in my high school years, and my generation were by no means angels. If this is extrapolated into our day, the high school age children must face some frightening characters and the school officials are probably not much help.

        Liked by 2 people

  • marlene

    I may be older. We all received milk and cookies in the morning, went to the auditorium for prayers and Glee Club, both of which I was an active member. I’m Jewish and Christian and went to church with my grandmother on Sundays and to Schul with my father on Saturdays and sang in the school’s Christian Choir. Christian Choir in public schools?? I feel ancient!

    There were only 2 girls in school who had had sex and the whole school knew who they were – I befriended them but never went anywhere with them, although I invited them to parties because I felt sorry for their, uh, situation. It seemed we were all “smart.” Our biggest envy were of those who had new clothes. Our biggest pastimes were loading up in a HS guy’s car and going bowling, then to HoJo’s. School was easy, safe, and fun – yes, fun! Probably because it was easy and safe. Then came Bandstand and some of us became “stars.” RIch kids, poor kids, we all mingled and although there were cliques, I belonged to all of them, depending on who was doing what where. I loved those years, but hated kindergarten.

    However, my son’s experience was entirely different. I had to fight to get him out of the class on islam. As well as get rid of a teacher who tried to touch him. Gangs started to form. Kids were bused in from different neighborhoods and were bad, like the ones Lee experienced. Today, my grandchildren go to private schools, at great expense, but for the greater good. I fear for the youth of today, but fear more for those who will be subjects of their future political leadership.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leeduigon

      In our sixth grade class, the Jewish kids got out early, one day a week, for religious instruction (so did the Catholic kids). On those days they used to bring their Hebrew text books with them–and I thought those books were really cool. The Jewish kid who sat in back of me used to let me look at his Hebrew book.

      It was a vanished world. And a better one.

      Liked by 1 person

  • cassandra41

    In high school I wound up in a science class like that and I was questioned by the “school psychologist” if I though it was FAIR to remove one good student from that teacher’s class. I could smell the trap, so I answered with what he wanted to hear — though why a student should be concerned about the “fairness” of the matter vis a vis the teacher is beyond me.

    Liked by 2 people

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