Bullying-Words sometimes hurt worse than anything else in the world.

For this assignment, I read “The Misfits” by James Howe. As I was reading it, I thought of my own time in middle school. I was bullied by the other students in my class. I was the first to develop breasts and my period. I was also one of the few students of color in my class. Everyone else was white. I was a little too smart and used words that many of them did not know. I lived in several different states and towns while many of them had lived in the same place for their whole lives. I was different from them and I often shared the things that interested me a little too freely. I liked to read and some of the books I read were books by Stephen King and Anne Rice. I was considered weird and jokes were often played on me in school. I remember a lot of what happened to me and how much it hurt. Even now as an adult it still hurts.

Reading “The Misfits” reminded me how things were in middle school. Making it through middle school and the tween years are some of the hardest years to get through because it seems like everyone who is the little bit different is not accepted. Kids that age can be cruel. It reminded me how easy it was to label someone and have that person just be that label. The girl who is good at sports. The boy who is a freak. People are more than one thing. When Bobby explained how he got the nickname “Fluff” because he ate peanut butter and fluff sandwich is a good example of that. The kids in his class only noticed he ate the samething everyday not realizing why and thinking he was weird. He ate those sandwiches because they were his mother’s favorite and it made him feel close to her after she died. The kids just noticed he was different.

I think it is important for bullying to be addressed. It does hurt and sometimes that hurt does linger. One of the characters in “The Misfits” talked about how easy it is to take the bad things people say to heart. Sometimes it is easier to think the worst of ourselves than it is to think of the best. It might not be true for everyone but a lot of people are more likely to believe the bad then the good. One of the hardest things for kids to develop is empathy. I know that I often have to say and do things to remind my students that the things they say matter and it does hurt someone else to hear them say those things. Even through it is corny, my mother often says we have to tell our students to be kind to each other. I find myself saying that to my students and remind them to treat each with kindness.

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9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. starbatt
    Oct 07, 2012 @ 04:29:21

    I really wanted to read The Misfits for this week, but it was already checked out at my local library. Hopefully the reader got as much out of it as you did!

    I read Holes this week. Bullying is a part of the story, but not really in the foreground. The narrator talks about it, but almost in a dismissive way and certainly doesn’t linger on discussions of how it makes him feel. I remember getting picked on in school too, but for being in marching band, for not being as athletic and popular as my older brother (although I showed them all by playing football in the homecoming girls football tournament and getting MVP- Take that!), and even in the marching band world for being different (I liked old things, old movies and music, vintage clothes, etc.). Maybe it’s getting picked on that we all remember from high school? Or maybe I just haven’t had a conversation about this topic with anyone who ever did the picking and didn’t receive any. Although I’m sure that I dealt out some bullying too. Again, I’m pretty sure we all do it at some point. You said it yourself, kids are mean.

    You mentioning reminding your students about being kind to each other made me think of the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio. It discusses bullying in a very different way and is really well done. One of the teachers in the book urges his kids to remember to be kind. I think the quote he uses is something like “when given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.” I wrote a review of the book earlier this semester on my blog, if you want to read more about it.

    Reply

  2. libr2012
    Oct 07, 2012 @ 16:57:48

    I too was more mature then my classmates in school. I’m 5’10” and I have been since 5th grade. I’m 24 now and I still hate being tall because of all that I endured back in school. I refuse to wear high heels and I tend to hunch over if I’m with shorter people. I often wonder what life would be like if I didn’t get picked on over my height or if I wasn’t so tall. I’m a waitress and I always hear the dreaded question “how tall are you?” followed by “you must have been the school’s point guard.” ( It’s actually frustrating me just thinking about it). I basically hate every aspect about being tall…every one. I know it stems back from my youth, and that’s so unfortunate…

    Reply

    • sjv1983
      Oct 07, 2012 @ 23:57:33

      I am sorry to hear that. It sucks how something that happen years ago can still have power over you. Which is why I think that bullying is a serious issue. That stuff can and does stick with you.

      Reply

  3. SicReads
    Oct 08, 2012 @ 21:22:29

    It sounds like we all know a thing or two about bullying from our personal experiences. It is interesting how other-worldly middle school and high school are so I always enjoy reading fiction based on those age groups. I run a learning center where bullying is something I (unfortunately) deal with daily. This will be a good book to add to our library at my learning center.

    In the Misfits, Addie, Bobby, Joe, and Skeezy are best friends who stick by each other no matter what, partly because they all know what it is like to get picked on. I really enjoyed the part at the assembly where they are able to make a speech about bullying. The kids didn’t win the student council election but I think they won the confidence they needed to move on and move forward. Howe is able to deal with a pretty tough issue by keeping things age appropriate and giving the Gang of Five a bit of the spotlight for characteristics we all got teased about in school. In The Misfits, readers see how weight, height, style, or sexual preference got the kids bullied but also how those characteristics didn’t get in the way of them making meaningful relationships with each other.

    Reply

    • sjv1983
      Oct 08, 2012 @ 23:49:35

      I liked that about the book. These kids were getting teased but at the same time they had each other. What I liked is that they saw each other and accepted each other. I think you should add that book to your library.

      Reply

  4. hiebertca
    Oct 10, 2012 @ 23:41:37

    Your last paragraph about needing to remind others to be kind to one another is very much what the article “Bullying as true drama” (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/23/opinion/why-cyberbullying-rhetoric-misses-the-mark.html?_r=1) discusses. As the article states, we need to teach kids to be satisfied with themselves and to accept themselves and each other and only then can we accept our differences without prejudice. So much easier to say then do – but what you do as a teacher will help them along their road. What you – they will remember for the rest of their lives. It is amazing to see my students walk in through the library door and still recall the time I lectured them or the silly jokes I would tell.

    I think it is also so important to set examples as parents, strangers, teachers, librarians, co-workers, etc. Bullying can happen everywhere to anyone – no age limit. It is key to model.

    I came across an interesting article called “Modifying anti-bullying programs to include students with disabilities.” It is in the journal “Teaching Exceptional Children.” The article discusses how special needs children are at high risk for being bullied. It comes up with some similar points to what our assigned article discussed – teaching kids how to respect others; having students volunteer with special needs students.

    While I can’t say I’ve been bullied, I can relate a little as I (as a little sister) watched while my brother was bullied every year of school. It began to lessen when my right hook began to cross people’s faces – but the torment still took place. My brother was not diagnosed with Asperger’s until much later in life. I often wonder if we had known would things have been different? Would people have treated him better? Do you think things have changed since then for the special needs population or do you all believe that things are much like they were 15 to 20 years ago?

    Reply

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