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Diatribe: The Teacher Who Touched A Student With His Banana.

05/22/2013

bananaI’ve spent some time in a classroom.  When I went to college, I studied to be a teacher.  I’ll never forget the first time that I was left alone with a classroom filled with students.  It was fifth grade mathematics and the class had just begun to study units of measure.  Their teacher left me with her lesson plan and her textbook told me “Teach them something.  I’ll be right back.” and quickly left the room.  I spent a quick moment looking over the lesson plan and another ten minutes making sure each of the students had a ruler.  This exercise was enough to fill the entire time that she was gone.  I can still feel the knot in the pit of my stomach when I think about it.

My “student teaching” experience remains, pretty much, a blur.  I do, however, remember quite vividly catching a twelve-year-old boy selling marijuana out of his backpack in the hallway between classes.

As part of my training, there were many classes in psychology, sociology and childhood development that were required before I could receive a teaching certificate.  Along the way, I’m reasonably certain that I was taught to never rub a banana across a student’s neck.

Apparently, Jonathan Hampton, a former Teacher of the Year at North Marion High School in Marion County, Florida, didn’t receive any anti-banana training.  Hampton was recently suspended for three days without pay for touching a female student with a banana during a psychology lecture.  Although the incident happened three months ago, the student’s parents didn’t report it until May 6th having determined that the teacher had crossed a line.

Hampton’s attorney reportedly said the banana was simply part of his client’s lunch, he only tapped the student to get her attention and no student in the class complained about the incident during the following months.

The school district concluded that the teacher-student contact warranted the suspension for professional misconduct even though “Freudian” discussion is part of the curriculum in the college-level course.

Still, there is outrage.

“That is disgusting, very disgusting.  I don’t think he should be allowed to teach kids.  You don’t do stuff like that and get away with it.” – Dale Johnson, Grandmother

Seriously?  I agree that what Hampton did with his banana may have been in questionable taste and showed a lack of good judgement but I hardly think it was reason for a suspension.  Clearly, as a former Teacher of the Year, he’s proven himself to be an educator at the top of his game and an asset to the faculty.  Furthermore, students in a college-level psychology class should be mature enough to address the situation on their own.  Since none of them objected, and only after three months’ time did a parent voice concern, it seems to me that the matter has been blown significantly out of proportion.

If this is the worst thing that happens at North Marion High School the students, and their parents, should consider themselves lucky.

What do you think?  Did the school district make too big a deal out of Hampton’s banana?

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13 Comments
  1. So I guess the lesson is that other teachers shouldn’t have bananas, carrots or cucumbers for lunch. Do you think they would have complained if he had been eating a pretzel stick?

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  2. He shouldn’t have done it, but for the parents to wait three months to complain should carry some weight also.
    If they didn’t feel, during those ninety days, that is was worthy of a complaint then they should have keep their pieholes shut.

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    • I had a teacher in high school who would throw erasers at us to get our attention! They hurt like mad and made a mess of our clothes. Parents thought it was funny. How times have changed!

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  3. I had teacher get so frustrated with a routine cut-up (actually a friend of mine in the class) that he said “I am not going to throw you out the window; I am going to throw you through the window.” It was funny and got the class back in order. Were his words wrong to say? Of course. Were they harmful to the student? No, because it was so outlandish not to be taken seriously. Yet, if it were reported, he would have been suspended for a threat. People need to get real. If the teacher had held the banana emulating a private part and touched the student, then that would have been out of line. She and others would have reported that. If he tapped her to get her attention, then that is different matter, at least to me. Sorry for the ramble. BTG

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    • I think parents should be required to spend time observing a classroom. Most have absolutely no idea what a teacher goes through on a daily basis to simply maintain order in a classroom let alone actually teach something.

      Ramble away! I always enjoy your point of view.

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  4. Of course, it appears to be an insane and over the top reaction. But, do we know exactly how the teacher did it? Was it a tap, or was it a longer stroke with more pressure? Were there any Freudian associations to bring into it? Would the parents even know what that means? Hell, would the administration know? Any more, I’m amazed by the shallowness of school administrators
    and the outright ignorance of school boards. All parents should be required to run a classroom for a day. If they did, this sort of incident would soon die a quiet death.

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    • I completely agree. If not run a classroom, at least observe one!

      While we don’t necessarily know exactly how the teacher did it, we do know that the students didn’t object and that it took three months for a parent to have a problem.

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  5. I agree. BTG (aka Rambling Man)

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  6. Anonymous permalink

    Go to Catholic school with nuns in the 70s who had free reign to beat the living ;$,”. Out of you. A banana would be a welcome change of pace.

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  7. I don’t understand why the teacher would have had part of his lunch in his hand to begin with, but I really don’t think it’s such a big deal. Teachers used to crack our knuckles with yardsticks, etc.

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