What’s the Matter with Susie?



One man. Two boys. Twelve kids.

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29 Responses

  1. I love this!

    As a tangent (sorry to be tangential on what is probably the first comment), I remember a time in elementary school when we had a sub, and she had us vote once whether we wanted to do whatever the assigned work was, or go out on an unplanned recess. Most of us voted for the recess. At that point she said she’d make us do the work because, according to her, the fact that we voted for recess meant that we didn’t want to do the work, but if we had voted for the work, she would have rewarded us with a recess.

    It was a long time ago, but it still kind of makes me angry. Even if we leave aside the fact that she dangled the more desirable “free recess” over a more drudge-worthy “do the assigned work,” she had basically just admitted that she had decided beforehand to go against whatever we would have voted for.Report

    • I’d be supremely pissed if that was how a teacher dealt with my kids. It’s mean and manipulative, and it teaches kids nothing but to hate school.

      Well, it probably teaches them to distrust authority… so maybe something good can come out of it after all.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Pierre Corneille says:

      That’s legit fished up. I can’t think of a single good reason to do something like that. I’m very much a believer in only giving kids (and people in general) the sense that they have a choice if they really do have a choice. It is why I hate the whole asking-a-question-that-is-really-a-command-but-it-feels-nicer-to-ask nonsense.

      Along similar lines, I sometimes give my kids a particular “assignment” that they must complete at some point during the week, e.g., I want everyone to play this dice game once this week. I tell them that they can choose when they do it but if we reach Friday and they haven’t done it, I will call them over to make sure it is completed. If we are near completion on Thursday, I’ll say, “If everyone can get done today, I can use that space for something new tomorrow.” I make clear that no one should feel compelled to finish it earlier than they planned and do not allow any sort of explicit peer pressure; usually, the stragglers will get it done, which is sort of cool to see how they rally for a collective reward.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Kazzy says:

        “I can’t think of a single good reason to do something like that.”

        Well, she wanted to give them the idea that making the “correct” choice (be responsible, stay inside and do schoolwork) would have been rewarded. But because they made the “wrong” choice, they got punished.

        It’s not *good*, but it’s a reason.Report

      • Avatar Reformed Republican in reply to Kazzy says:

        It is why I hate the whole asking-a-question-that-is-really-a-command-but-it-feels-nicer-to-ask nonsense.

        That has been one of my pet peeves since I was a teenager. Do not ask me “would you like to . . . ” or “would you be willing to . . .” if you are going to make me do something anyways. I will not claim to be perfect, but, when dealing with my son, I generally make my commands obvious commands and only present options if they are truly optional.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Reformed Republican says:

          And it has real world implications, in schools at least.

          That sort of fluffy language is largely the domain of upper- and middle-class white folks; it is far less common amongst people of lower socioeconomic status and people of color. So students from the former group understands that questions asked in certain ways aren’t really questions and respond accordingly. Students from the latter groups might be unfamiliar with that language, so when they are “asked” to do something that they really don’t have a choice in, they risk being labeled defiant or a behavior issue (something they are already more likely to be labeled as) when they fail to comply. Interactions such as the following…
          “I asked you to sit down.”
          “And I said no.”
          “You’re being defiant!”

          It can be maddening. But the confusion such squishy language breeds is not limited to these groups and is why it should be avoided. I actually distribute to parents a handout on “Effective Commands” which includes this and other tips. The ones who scoff at the mere notion of giving kids “commands”… ugh…Report

  2. Avatar Rose says:

    This made my day.Report

  3. Kansas jokes aside, that’s really sweet of Susie.Report

  4. Avatar Chris says:

    There is a game theoretical explanation for this.Report

  5. Avatar Damon says:

    You should give all the kids some candy and then hold a vote on whether or not Susie should have to give her candy to whoever the “democratic group” things should have it.

    Be a good primer on taxes, social welfare, and many other kinds of applications.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Damon says:

      One of my favorite conversations happened a few years back and revolved around the “sleepover” they got to have with our class “pet”, which was a stuffed monkey.

      Everyone got a turn and we had a few weeks left. Initially, everyone got three nights at home. But this time, there wasn’t time for that. There was time for either EVERYONE to get one night or to utilize weekends and some kids get two nights and others three nights. I put the decision to them, articulating how they could decide that everyone gets the same, albeit less, or people get different amounts but everyone ultimately gets more. I made clear that there wasn’t a “right” answer, just different benefits and drawbacks to each one.

      There was some passionate discussion on both sides. Some were very adamant that everything be equal because that was fair. Others wanted the variable plan but with the guarantee that they would be one of the kids to get three nights, which I explained could not be guaranteed and would simply be luck-of-the-draw. I let them each have their say and then we voted. The decision was strongly but not unanimously in favor of the 2/3 night plan (and it should be noted that there is a tendency for kids to pick the “winning” side once a certain point has been reached if the voting is not done secretly). It was really fascinating to watch how they discussed it and what they made of it.

      Similarly, whenever we read the Little Red Hen (“Who will help me bake the bread?”), I always ask what would have been the fairest ending to the story. Really fascinating responses. Next time I do it, I’ll post the replies here.Report

  6. Avatar Damon says:

    I remember the “apple” game in high school. It was my first introduction to economics and, given how hard other’s had with the game on what were clearly simple concepts, I realized we were boned….Report