The uses and abuses of tape

An Oregon teacher was suspended for taping a nine-year-old boy to his chair with masking tape. He admitted she’d asked him several times to sit down and stay down.

Meanwhile, two Minnesota seniors face 90 days in jail for animal cruelty after bring a duct-taped goose to school. It was supposed to be a prank — just not a funny one.

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  1. Half Canadian says:

    While I disagree with taping a student to their chair, what options would she have if he continued with his non-compliance? Would the principal watch him? What disciplinary measures were available, and would the teacher have any consequences (reprimands?) for using those?

    In any event, this is better than telling everyone in the class what a bad person the kid is, and that no one should be his friend.

  2. Deirdre Mundy says:

    When I was in third grade, the fourth grade teacher taped an especially bouncy student to his chair.

    The parents aparently didn’t mind, and the kid stopped getting up. The tape didn’t really STOP him–he could have broke through…. but it reminded him that he wasn’t supposed to get up… apparently that extra half-second of thought was what the kid needed to stay seated…

    Of course, being taped to the chair kept him from being sent to the principal’s office and paddled, so it was probably a pretty good deal for him….

    But our school district at the time had corporal punishment… it got used maybe once a year, but whenever it did, the whole SCHOOL knew…

    I wonder what happened to the kids who got paddled…. I always assumed they were such horrible delinquents that they ended up in prison….

    umm… OK… 5 seconds with Google tells me that at least one of them went on to go to a prestigious high school, college and became a radio broadcaster…….


  3. Margo/Mom says:

    Half: To be effective, the first question to ask is why was the kid getting out of his chair? Kids self report is that he was bored. Could be (kids don’t always possess a whole lot of self-insight into motives, particularly impulsive kids). So one might check into what was going on. Is this one of those kids who always finishes the assignment and then moves on to find other things to do? That calls for one set of solutions (identifying acceptable “seat” occupations that contribute to learning, perhaps). Is the kid zoning out because he is overwhelmed by the work? This calls for another set of solutions (perhaps presenting smaller assignments, perhaps more intensive support, double-checking understanding before launching independent work, partnering, etc). Is the kid checking the limits of what is allowable (more likely to occur during the early part of the year)? This calls for setting consequences to establish that the limits are firm (recess with the teacher, quiet lunch, extra writing assignment, etc). Does he have some physical proclivity for movement (ADHD?) or other difficulty with just sitting? Maybe additional activity needs to be built into his day, maybe a sandbag sort of thing to hold across his lap as a reminder, or some physical release available (chewing gum, a stress release ball). As far as I know, none of these break any rules that I have ever seen.

    Or the teacher could just keep on telling him, with limited results until s/he loses their cool and pulls out the masking tape in desperation.

  4. But by third grade, Margo, shouldn’t the child also be able to sit still in his desk for limited parts of the school day?

    Sure there are some kids for whom it’s beyond their ability, but staying in your seat when you are told to is a matter of learning self control and behaving appropriately too. Misbehavior isn’t always about legitimate root causes.

  5. Not that taping anyone to a chair is a good practice.

  6. Margo/Mom says:

    NDC asks: But by third grade, Margo, shouldn’t the child also be able to sit still in his desk for limited parts of the school day?

    Are you suggesting that by third grade a bright kid with not enough to keep him challenged should have transcended the environment by learning to ignore the problem (and staying seated with nothing to do)? Or perhaps by diagnosing the problem and pointing out nicely to the teacher that he is bored and needs more challenge? Ditto the kid who is overwhelmed because he is not getting it? Or, by third grade a kid with ADHD knows all the tips and tricks to managing his problems (Excuse me, Ms. Teacher–I think I would have a better time sitting through class if I could have five minute activity breaks scattered throughout the day. Would that be all right with you?)

    Yes, in fact, there are kids who excel at following the rules and exhibiting good behavior, whether their needs are being well met or not. They are more likely to be girls than boys. If they are gifted or have learning challenges, these things are more likely to be undiagnosed. After all, they are behaving.

  7. In regards to what options the teacher would have, I suggest that teachers typically make the mistake of focusing on the symptom and not the cure. How about taking a look about the reasons why the student is wandering and why do we have to suggest that he has ADD when research suggests that every human has the need to get up and move around? Here are some alternatives.

  8. I’m not suggesting that the kid should just suffer with bad instruction, but instead that behaving is actually valuable and that not all misbehavior is caused by legitimate issues.

    I hated math in school. Had it been an option, I would have wandered around the room and done other stuff instead. My boredom wasn’t an instructional issue though; it was just a matter of preference.

    Ideally, we could have made math interesting to me, but really all that had to happen was that I buckle down and learn it despite my boredom.

    I really don’t think any kids should just have to endure parts of school frequently, but unless we go to a system based on one on one instruction, sometimes kids need to be expected to sit quietly and let others work even if they are bored or finished.

    A better system would give them something engaging and instructional to work on quietly instead of just sitting there and your recommendations for self advocacy are excellent, but when a kid gets up and does something else repeatedly without permission and despite verbal correction, it shouldn’t be assumed that it was necessarily the instruction that was lacking.

    It might just have been a lack of self-discipline on the part of the kid, and self-discipline might have to be learned by exercising self-control with external reminders or negative consequences from adults rather than by changing the environment for the kid.

    But again, the consequences shouldn’t involve tape.

  9. I think a lot of times we all forget that we’re not trying to design the perfect education for any one kid; we’re working on a system that will serve almost all the kids at the same time.

    What would be a great solution for a parent to use with his or her kid is harder to pull off when you are instructing 20+ kids at the same time.

    And this may be why homeschooling is growing in popularity.

  10. With institutional learning, some times the kids might have to sit quietly. Period.

  11. Therese says:

    I remember my extremely sweet, elderly, 1st grade teacher putting a large rubberband around the problem child in our class. We had those old time seats that were nailed to the floor. I don’t remember anyone being traumatized by the incident. It was our second grade teacher that would put the bad kids behind the piano, make them stand in the garbage can, make kids eat their papers if they made a mistake, and regularly humiliated us, giving us all daily stomach aches before school – she was the one that all the parents kept trying to get rid of but couldn’t seem to that really crossed the line.

  12. Amy in Dallas says:

    If I taught elementary, I’d have a treadmill in my room to work out restlessness! I teach high school, so I have a couch instead.