Friday, January 7, 2005

Time out

When I was pulling into my apartment parking lot, there were a couple of families outside with the kids on bikes and the parents watching. These were little kids. Leaving aside the question of whether a crowded apartment parking lot is the best place for kids to be playing in a city with many fine public parks, I overheard something that struck me as funny.

One of the kids was being selfish, I guess, and wouldn't let his sister ride his bike. Their dad shouts, "Adrian, if I hear you say that again, you're going to go to time out." Something is weird to me about "time out" being a physical place that the kid is sent to, like it happens so often that the idea of losing his play previledges has become institutionalized.

It's like at an elementary school I substituted at once. I guess they were trying to emphasize personal choice and accountability, so the teacher's assistant in this classroom would always use the word "disagree" in every correction to a studen't behavior. Usually, if a kid was acting up, she'd just call his name and say, "I disagree." Sometimes it was more elaborate, like, "I disagree with your decision to stand when we're all sitting," or, "I disagree about you not washing your hands after the restroom," or, "Oh, the class isn't quiet? I disagree with that!" Since when is everything a matter of consensus? I was just waiting for a kid to get smart enough to say, "Well, we agree to disagree, then," and just keep doing whatever it was they were doing.

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