It Is Not Abuse, If You Have a Whistle

6:05 AM Elizabeth Seckman 45 Comments



 I went to a spelling bee the other day. Instead of sitting in chairs, the students were lined up on the stage, kneeling on one knee facing the crowd in a packed auditorium. 
The moderator paced in front of the contestants carrying one of those long foam pool noodles. The kids were given words to spell and every time they got one wrong, the mediator would yell, "You're a disgrace... a shame to your school! Why are you smiling? You have nothing to be proud of, much less smile about." And then smacked them with the pool noodle. 

Of course, the kids hated it. They complained; the other moderators watching complained; and some namby pampy parents had to throw their two cents in. 

Waa-waa! 

What they failed to comprehend was the glory of the plan: strength building through intimidation.

Pretty awesome, right?

Fortunately, that never happened. But I did go to a football game the other night where players in a huddle were chastised, hit, and bullied. 

And it seems like to many people, that is okay. 

I'm guessing it's because that moderator wears a little whistle, and you know what they say about guys with little whistles...

No, I'm not talking about their tiny personalities. I'm talking about how the little whistle sets them apart and above all
the other childcare workers and teachers in the world. 

They can tell kids they're disgraceful and that they have nothing in this world to be proud of or smile about, and it's okay. 

Because they have whistles.  All their hateful words are magically transformed into "pep talks"; every strike to the shoulder or leg, every jerk of the hand becomes an "at-a-boy".

Isn't it amazing? It's not abuse, if you can call it coaching. 




45 comments:

  1. And yet if you were to take that whistle and shove it up their you know where, it no longer applies.

    Side Note: I've been whipped with a pool noodle before, it hurts lol

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  2. I don't think tearing someone down makes them do better.

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  3. I'm not sure how to take this post. But I love your imagination...pool noodle.

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    1. Take it for a box of donuts...do you have my address?

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  4. Think of all those poor Marines in boot camp struck over and over again with those pool noodles. No wonder they have no pride.

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    1. I'm all for toughness when it makes sense. And I'm all for pushing back when it doesn't make sense.

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  5. Agreed. I played sports and usually it was great, but there were one or two coaches who just tore you down. Same with acting teachers. Some people think it's the only way you'll learn. Those people are wrong.

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    1. I've had good coaches and bad coaches. The good ones can really make a big difference, the bad ones fade in memory over time.

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  6. Wow. I coached youth sports for years, and made it a point to not treat my players that way. I had some parents who strongly hinted they wanted me to, for reasons that baffle me. Now, I'm dealing with a coach that thinks name-calling, physical punishments for opponents scoring, and other methods are just acceptable. If parents speak with him about it, he either dismisses their complaints, or freaks out on them and makes it known they are unqualified to assess his coaching. One parent, who is a teacher, said she'd be fired in five minutes if she tried what he pulls.

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    1. It is a bit bizarre that we don't maintain the same standards in our sports that we expect in our academics. I see sports as an extension of education. Sports offer kids the opportunity to learn time management, team work, and dedication. If the sport is off-message and not adding to the educational benefit, what is the point in it at all?

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  7. Very well put! I knew a guy whose coach told him to kick the guy on the other team in the nuts or he was off the team. Sometime they have no concept of the sportsmanship required in sports.

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    1. And no one can tell me you have to be a jerk to win. I've seen good coaching and I've seen what excellent teams spring from good leadership.

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  8. Glad the first incident didn't happen. I agree that criticizing kids like that doesn't help. Glad my daughter was always into swimming where the focus was on the girls' personal bests and developing into a better person.

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    1. I think all school sports should be focused on character development. No one remembers who plays and who doesn't once they graduate, we may as well let them walk away from the sport with some sort of benefit for later life.

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  9. Wow. Sounds like these people have the Severus Snape approach to teaching. *gag*

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  10. That is bad, how can kids develop under such intimidation.

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    1. They are developing. They got into fights on the field last week. You know what they say- we are their first teachers.

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  11. I'm not a firm believer is knocking someone down to make them better, even in sports, but I know its done. I believe in encouragement. A great coach that is loved can get a lot accomplished.

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    1. Pushing an athlete to do their best is not a problem. Set the bar high and encourage them to reach for it. But random tirades and temper tantrums don't help a thing.

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  12. That's pretty scary, really - those poor kids. But it does illustrate an important point very well.

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    1. I don't even think it's effective. If anything, the kids show more attitude and defiance-- as one mom said-- there's a lot of testosterone flying in those huddles; it could get really ugly one day.

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  13. Wow. That's brilliant. I've never thought about coaching like that, perhaps because I didn't participate in sports as a kid (I was reading). My kids likewise are not into sport, but they do school plays and band/orchestra. I hope their teachers aren't bullies. That's not the way to inspire greatness.

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    1. To them to respect. That is the avenue to greatness.

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  14. I don't think hitting or putting kids down would make them learn. They would probably be scared and ashamed of the peers to pay attention.

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  15. If it's not OK to bully and hit kids that way in one situation (and it isn't), then it's not OK to do it anywhere else.

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  16. No, it's not okay to do that in any venue. Negativity and intimidation have never been proven to build people up. It breaks them. Positivity and rewards always work much better.

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    1. I have seen good coaches. They are able to get kids to work harder and go farther out of respect and loyalty than badgering ever will.

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  17. Dude. Yeah, volatile behavior like that isn't cool. Dang.

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    1. I contend it just makes the kids think you're a little off your rocker.

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  18. Kids need praise not intimidation. Thank you for such a thoughtful post, Elizabeth.

    Gary

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    1. I'd be happy with fairness and well-tempered discipline.

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  19. My children have both participated in sports and performed on stage in music and plays. I have a special needs child. I do not believe that belittling anyone or bullying anyone makes a child feel successful or better than another. When we bully or belittle, it's a lose/lose situation. This is the same in adulthood.

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    1. It's ineffective. People keep saying that these kids should toughen up. It's not a matter of being...it's a matter of at what point are you teaching kids to solve problems with anger? It's just not sensible.

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  20. Grrr. I totally agree with you. I also dislike when it goes to the other extreme. Coddling them is just as bad. Have to find the happy medium...

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    1. I had a chat with a friend of mine who is a mental health practitioner and we were discussing this. I'm not a believer in equal play time and unearned praise. And when my kid messes up in a game and he gets yelled at, I'm not a fan, but that's sports. That comes with the territory. what was so bad about this was that it was separated from the adrenaline of the game. It was after the prayer and was more like an angry fit than a teachable moment. And I know we're all human, but when you're dealing with kids, maintain professional standards.

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  21. I used to coach, and I've seen many good and horrible examples of good coaching. Good coaching makes kids feel more confident an engaged in improving.

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    1. You're right there. I've seen first hand what good coaches can do.

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  22. I was just floored when you first told me about this. Talk about unnecessary action. Good on you for standing up, and it's super good catching up with you again! :)

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