Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Knucklehead Of The Day: A Killer Assignment

Today's knucklehead must certainly be the St. Joseph, Missouri high school teacher who asked his students to write an essay about who they would like to murder and how they'd do it:
A high school teacher who asked students to write about who they would kill and how they would carry out the crime has been suspended for a week without pay and placed on six months' probation.

Michael Maxwell, who teaches industrial technology at Central High School, was notified of the suspension Monday. Superintendent Melody Smith said no further action will be taken.

"I'm just very sad for the school, and I'm sad for him," she said. "This has rocked his world, as it has rocked our world."

Students in Maxwell's beginning drafting class were asked to complete the ungraded assignment during roll call last month. It was not required and students could have chosen another topic, district spokesman Steve Huff said.

It was not clear why Maxwell asked the drafting class to write fiction.

"In this day and age with all the school shootings, how can a teacher encourage students to make a death list?" said Tina Bonnett, whose daughter is in the class.

Maxwell apologized Sunday.

"I made a horrible mistake that I regret," Maxwell said. "I want to apologize to my students, my colleagues and to the community."

School officials learned about the assignment May 5 after a parent filed a complaint.
Well... the man has apologized, which I guess is all that anyone can do under the circumstances.

Still... this lapse in judgement could have easily been prevented if Maxwell had only run his assignment by a colleague or two for their input before giving it to his students.

A little professional collegiality can go a long way toward preventing this exact type of problem.

In some parts of the country, Maxwell would have probably lost his job although in some other areas the most likely consequence would have been some sort of reprimand. As it is, he's lucky to have escaped with only a one-week suspension and will be soon able to return to the classroom.

I'd be willing to bet that he's learned a valuable lesson in what is and is not an appropriate attention-grabber to use with his students.

Contributions for this week's edition of The Carnival Of Education are due tonight. Get submission info here; see our latest education-related entries over there.