Sunday, July 22, 2012

I'm so bad

The first time I got in trouble at school prompted my first incident of writing in earnest.
I was in 4th grade. A classmate snagged me in the girls’ bathroom and reported that a playground supervisor had been mean to my younger brother. I said, “That bitch,” and someone eavesdropping reported me, for I was summoned to the principal’s office and made to look up the word ‘bitch’ in the dictionary. It means a female dog. (No modern dictionary back then.”

As punishment, I had to call my mother and tell her what I’d done. Then I had to read three thick books and write book reports. I can’t recall the books specifically, but they were historical novels meant for upper classes. What I do recall is I loved the books. I devoured them and wrote long reports eagerly.

I had a deadline, which helped immensely. I had three interesting subjects. I could write whatever I wanted about them. I had the satisfying sense the principal realized my punishment was no punishment.

I wish I had copies of those book reports. 


  1. Ana, I love the creative punishments that are created for children. And I don't know that the punishment backfired, per se, since it fostered your love for a great story, and isn't that what education is supposed to do?

  2. Hmmn...making a kid read as punishment?! In your case, it did indeed backfire as you loved the stories and the writing assignment.

    I can see it having a really negative effect on a kid who doesn't enjoy reading in the first place. Being forced to read as a punishment isn't going to foster that love.


  3. I tend to agree with Debra about the forcing a child to read even though it your case it had a positive effect. Better anyway than the punishments we were given at school, like having to write out 'I must not talk in class' (or similar) 100 times. Enough to put anyone off writing!