Today I finally got through to Arthur, at least on an emotional level. Arthur suffers from a severe case of CryBaby Syndrome. That kid can miscalculate a fraction reduction and he'll be all red-faced, teary-eyed, gulping air, and unable to work for half an hour.
Today he graded one of Paul's tests and gave him a U, which at our school is equivalent to an old-fashioned F. Paul seemed concerned because his paper looked high quality, and I agreed. So we went to Arthur and asked him why he gave Paul a U. He explained that it wasn't a U, that it was an A. I told him that it was a U, and he needed to correct the grade by improving his handwriting. Well, Arthur did that, but he started bawling and got pretty teary eyed. I decided to do something about it and kept him in for recess.
I made him write a sentence ten times. The sentence was Alexander Pope's famous quote, "To err is human, to forgive Divine." I explained the meaning of the sentence before he wrote it, for he didn't know what "err" or "Divine" meant, but I explained them. After he had written the sentence ten times, I asked him what it meant to him. He told me that he didn't forgive himself for making mistakes. I told him he understood, and I added that he didn't seem to ever forgive himself for simple, unimportant errors that shouldn't bother a person. I sent him on his way, but he missed almost the whole recess.
Later that day, the kids were moving desks around, and Arthur spilled the entire contents of Alan's desk out on the floor. I told Arthur to pick up the contents of the desk and to be more careful. He did it with no tears, and I told him, "Good job, Arthur!" Alan said, "He did a good job? He dumped all the stuff out of my desk!" I looked at Arthur and said, "Arthur, what job did you do that was good?" Arthur grinned and said, "I forgave myself." I winked at him and said, "To forgive is Divine." I think the others were a little confused, but Arthur understood.