Friday, May 19, 2006

Lord of the Flies Modernized

I am an elementary school teacher and one of the things I have learned about kids is that if I am ever accused of a crime and taken to trial, I would never want a juvenile jury. Kids can be viciously vindictive and have a horrific sense of justice. Never again will I ever ask a class of elementary school students, “Johnny has failed to do his homework again. What shall I do with him?” By the time the discussion/voting is done, poor Johnny will never again see the light of recess.

“Mr. R., we recommend that Johnny lose every recess for the rest of the year, and he has to do extra homework for the rest of his life.”

They think they learn this from adults. That’s what they feel like adults do to them. Children see their own crimes as small and insignificant. There are so many plausible and wonderful excuses that seem to justify their forgiveness and subsequent redemption. Yet adults will dispense justice with an iron hand. Kids believe their punishment for what they did is horribly unfair; they suffer from Human Nature, so they overlook their sins yet never forget their punishments.

So when it comes their turn to dispense punishment, they follow what they think is the example they have been shown. That means the guilty party must seriously suffer.

“Mr. R., the class’s decision is that since Mary will not shut up in class, she has to sit in the back of the room by herself for the rest of the year, nobody ever talks to her, and if she talks anyway, we cut off her hair and make her eat dirt.”

“Mr. R., the class has decided that since Jim won’t play fair on the playground, he has to do extra homework every day, he can’t go outside to recess for the rest of the year, and he can’t play on the playground forever and ever, Amen.”

One example of Hell: As the defendant in a civil trial, you are found guilty. The jurors are convening to decide the compensation to the plaintiff, and the average age of the jurors is 9.4 years of age.

“Your Honor, we find that the defendant has to give the plaintiff all his stuff and everything he owns, and he has to apologize, and if he doesn’t apologize really politely, we run his testicles through a Ronco Juicer while they’re still attached.”

If you are judged by kids, throw yourself on the mercy of the court. Pray. Cry. Beg. That'll work, hopefully.


tracy said...

And the mantra of every 4th grader is "that's not fair". They can be a brutal bunch when they feel an injustice has been done. I agree with Walter, begging can work, but I would choose running, I think I could still outpace them, but not for long!

Laura said...

And so I remain: little kids scare me.