Last year I was the study hall monitor for our high school. In an effort to reduce costs the school eliminated that position and reassigned me. This year I’m the permanent substitute. An oxymoron, I know. Kind of suits me. Because we are a k through 12 school the general feeling is that there are enough teachers who will be out on any given day that it makes sense to have a person on staff full time to fill in. Even when there’s nothing to do there’s stuff to do. Paperwork, records updating. You name it, they’ll give it to me.

Today I was the high school biology teacher. Not a bad place to be. The room isn’t stuffy and the kids are pretty good. And there are labs, which everyone finds interesting. Well maybe not everybody, but most people at least participate. At the back of the room is a large fish tank full of gold fish that run in size from a couple of inches long to seven or eight inches long. That tank is a boy magnet.

Every period I had to admonish the boys for tormenting fish. They would scoop them up in the net, chase them through the water with the siphon, blow air at them with a dropper. At one point we had boys surging to the back of the room before the other class had gotten out the door.

I have a problem with tormenting creatures. I suppose we could debate the level of awareness fish have of abuse, but they are aware of changes in thier environment, and show response to stimulous so I’m assuming they feel stress. And I just don’t like it. There is no reason for it. I think that we should be aware of how we treat living creatures and act according to our conscience.

But these boys, I don’t know what they think. They’d probably poke a stick in the cage if there was a lion at the back of the room, just to see what it would do. I don’t think it has anything to do with being bigger and stronger, or the lack of danger the fish represent. I think it’s pure curiosity mixed with the boredom of being in school. They are compelled to Torment the fish.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate September 19, 2010 at 1:23 pm

It bothers me too, Julie. I spent the whole day telling kids they weren’t allowed to torment the fish while I was in the room. They were quite unhappy with me!

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Julie September 18, 2010 at 1:09 am

I have noticed this phenomenon myself, and it annoys the living shit out of me. Property desctruction and senseless fish poking like that just send me over the edge. I cannot figure out what the draw is for kids like this. I wish I could, I’d devote my life to it.

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Kate September 17, 2010 at 10:47 pm

Have you ever tried putting Mentos into Diet Soda? We have a dent in our ceiling at School!

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inkgrrl September 17, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Wow – teaching biology or science would be a dream job. All those opportunities to blow things up!

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