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Third Graders, Really?

Third Graders, Really?

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

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When I was in elementary, I got in trouble with one of my teachers — let's call her "Miss. X." She had promised the entire class a cookie party if we all got 100% on our spelling bee. So I raised my hand to "share" something with the class, and proceeded to tell everyone there was a silent "e" at the end of all the words.* My punishment? No one got cookies, and all my friends wouldn't talk to me for the rest of the day. I was upset with Miss. X for being so mean, and I wanted to teach her a lesson. So I wrote up a mock report card, and gave her a check minus for Achievement, and an "unsatisfactory" for Behavior.

When I look back on it now, I realize she probably fought hard to stifle her laughter; but, at the time, I felt like I had made my point. I showed her!

Well, it seems times have changed. A group of 8- to 10-year-olds in Waycross, Georgia recently plotted an attack against their third grade teacher, who teaches special ed. Apparently, they were mad at her because she scolded one of them for standing on a chair during class. Armed with handcuffs, duct tape, a crystal paperweight, and a broken steak knife, they intended to overwhelm and stab her. The most disturbing part of this story, though, is the planning that went into it — obviously premeditated, they had a designated "look-out" person, and another person who was responsible for cleaning up afterward. Clearly, they understood the concept of negative consequences. Thankfully, the police were tipped off before they were able to carry out their plan.

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We're all familiar with the usual suspects when it comes to children and violence — television, video games, permissive or abusive parents. But is reality really that simple? Ted Feinberg from the National Association of School Psychologists joins us to take your questions. If you work in schools, or if you're a parent of a grade-school student, what concerns you about this story?

* I really wanted that cookie party.