I have taught sociology at West High for sixteen years with no blots on my record. This semester I was very concerned with the behavior of Miss Charlene Horne in my class. She had been continually disruptive and confrontational. Between her test performance and her failure to turn in the required term paper she was carrying a grade of "F" on May 15. I had spoken to her a number of times during the semester about her unsatisfactory effort, but she was alternately apathetic and testy. On the 14th she spoke up in class and said "I would sooner eat snot than study this stupid crap."
Before class on the 15th I once again took her aside. I pointed out that if she failed my course she would not be able to graduate until she made it up the lost credits in summer school. She became personally abusive and I sent her to the office to cool off.
Looking at her overall transcript, I was struck by the fact that her scholastic performance this year was quite below that of other years, and was at odds with her indicated IQ. I began to think that perhaps the best course would be to offer her one last chance to raise her grade to a passing "D". It seemed unlikely that she would be willing to do anything academic; however, I always have recognized that there are many ways to learn.
I felt that she needed to be "shook up" a bit from her apathetic attitude, and I thought about having her do a little role-playing in front of the class, but I expected that she would most likely refuse since she had made her objection to my class so public. It was then that I thought of Brad Jones, an honor student and thespian known for his level head.
I remembered vaguely a study that had been done years ago in which a group of college students were divided randomly into two groups. One group played the part of "jailers" and one group was "prisoners." I could not remember how the experiment came out, but I thought such a role-playing activity might be just the thing to bring her out of her self-centered funk.
Unfortunately due to time constraints I did not fully think through the instructions that I gave to Mr. Jones and Miss Horne, and especially I did not imagine the ingenuity of Mr. Jones in circumventing the instructions I gave him regarding respecting the modesty of Miss Horne. My intention was to monitor the role-playing, which was held in Room 122 immediately after school on the 17th. Had I not been called away for a meeting soon after the exercise started, there would have been no problem. But I was. As I had a great deal of respect for Mr. Jones, I let the assignment continue without me. A tape recording of the session was transcribed the next day at the 2nd District Police Station.
I deeply regret the incident that occurred after I left the room.
Reginald B. Hansen