Writer's Block

The USA is the place I was born. Canada is the place I was raised. Taiwan is the place in my heart.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Is this justice?

Here’s my account of a true story recently reported on in the newspapers and television in Taiwan:

On a day like any other day, in rather unextraordinary circumstances, a first grade student went to school without having done her homework. As is customary in Taiwan, the teacher was upset and disciplined the young girl by making her squat down and jump up, in "frog hop style" one hundred times.

At home the girl made no mention of what had happened at school that day. But it was plainly obvious that something was wrong when her parents saw that she was so sore that she couldn't sit.

The outraged parents first demanded that the teacher apologize but then they went further; they wanted retribution for the physical harm done to their daughter. Things escalated; the principal got involved as a witness and negotiator. The teacher apologized, but the parents wanted compensation. In return for the physical pain and suffering of their daughter, the parents asked that the teacher do one hundred frog hops, but that was out of the question because the teacher herself was pregnant. An agreement was finally reached in order to avoid a full-blown lawsuit, with the principal as witness. The teacher's daughter, a kindergarten student, would pay back the "wrong" by doing one hundred frog hops on a particular date, at a specified time in a public place.

Now I'm sure we can all think of more than one parable or phrase to sum up the absurdity of this tale.

What does it say, that these three parties consented to such an agreement, and to involving a blameless child in the process?

Though it was a lost opportunity for a genuine dialogue on disciplinary practices at school, I hope those who heard about this, find a lesson to be learned in there somewhere.

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