Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Student Called Me the 'Child of the Devil' Yesterday...

In class the other day a student, a sixth grader, was frustrated by her work in my Technology course. It was challenging, and my on-going propensity for assigning challenging work led to the following, off-hand comment:

"Mr. Dillon, you're the child of the Devil."

The kid had a smile on her face - it wasn't said in fuming, Holier-Than-Thou hatred. So I decided, to take her mind of the frustrations with her computer work, to redirect and diffuse.

"I don't believe in the devil."

"Do you believe in God?"

"No - I've no reason to."

A couple of students sitting nearby now perked up.

"Wait, Mr. Dillon, you don't believe in God?"


"You're an [some concoction of syllables]?"

"The term is 'atheist'. And why do you believe in God?"

This left them a little stunned (maybe confused?) except the original girl who now thought she could take out her anger towards me in a new way:

"You can't teach me your beliefs! I could sue you!"

I'm thinking 'you're, like, ten, kid...' but I respond cooly, gently pointing out their fallacious reasoning.

"Well, if it's illegal to teach my beliefs then I'm fine. Mentioning that I'm an atheist is a statement that I have no such beliefs."

"I could sue you."

"No. You couldn't. I don't believe in anything! How can you sue me for teaching you my beliefs when I don't believe anything?"

"You believe in atheism!"

"Atheism is not a belief. Atheism says I don't believe in God. It doesn't tell you to believe anything."

At that point something else distracted me in the room and I went to attend to it.

Later in the day the kid came to my classroom and said she felt I had picked on her, and treated her meanly and differently from others. I told her I'd no intention of such a mean thing, and that I was unaware of having treated her any more meanly than the rest of my students. Meanwhile in my mind I'm thinking: "Classic apologist approach - when you have no argument, play the hurt feelings and offense card."

And, once again, this all started when the kid called me "the child of the Devil." I'm the one who should be offended. And now the kid takes umbrage to my mentioning I don't believe in their God who supposedly teaches us to be kind, and not, you know, accuse your teacher of being the spawn of Satan? This after threatening to sue me. It was a disgusting, hypocritical self-righteousness display. From a ten year-old.


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