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Friday, November 9, 2012

Teacher Throws Book, Hits Student, to Make a Point

Posted by on Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 1:10 PM

When a high school teacher with a dramatic teaching style is interrupted, duck and cover.

According to the police report, a female student at Nathan Hale High School walked into the classroom "asking for some note cards" when she was allegedly struck with a 500-page copy of Homer's The Odyssey around 9:00 a.m. on November 1. By way of explanation, the teacher reportedly told police, "I was in a dramatic moment of teaching and when I was interrupt[ed], I wanted to show the students how important that moment was."

It's unclear who called the cops—most likely an employee of the school. When police arrived, the girl told them that after interrupting the man's class, "he yelled at her to get out of his classroom." According to the police report, she "thought the [teacher] was joking at first and again asked for some note cards." The teacher "again yelled for her to get out," at which point, the girl "realized the [teacher] was not joking and asked him why he was being so rude."

This pissed him off even more, according to the girl. He reportedly yelled, "Get out!" and then allegedly threw the 500-page book at her, "striking her in the hand," the report states. In his defense, the teacher told police that he wasn't mad when he threw the book—and he didn't mean to strike her, just to throw it in her general direction for "dramatic effect." According to the police report, the teacher said that his kids know that "this is the way I am." The good news is the girl's hand wasn't injured by The Odyssey.

The report states that the two apologized to each other later that same day, with the girl admitting that "she should have known better than to interrupt the [teacher]'s class." Luckily, the teacher wasn't reading something heavier—like a dictionary.


Comments (49) RSS

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Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 1
Wait. What's the crime here? He said that's just the way he is. Seems clear enough.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on November 9, 2012 at 1:22 PM · Report this
theophrastus 2
not to excuse this sort of behavior, but to offer up a "how far we've traveled" notion, when i was a high school student (as it happens at Nathan Hale) ~30 years ago (yes yes i'm old) there were quite occasional incidents of teacher book slamming, object tossing and taking, lots of shouting, shoving (particularly in "P.E." and "shop"), and nothing ... nothing ever was even considered to be worth of reporting about it (unless there was obvious blood).

I guess we're better now..? (probably. ...maybe
Posted by theophrastus on November 9, 2012 at 1:22 PM · Report this
LEE. 3
So he shouted at her to get out twice, and rather than comply she decides to continue screwing with his lecture? It sucks she got hit IN THE HAND by a book, but has anyone considered that this girl has no survival instinct?
Posted by LEE. on November 9, 2012 at 1:47 PM · Report this
LEE. 4
I should add this was the only type of teacher who could actually get me interested in learning anything after 7th grade. My photography teacher in high school would always start out the 1A semesters by spilling his coffee on himself before throwing a camera against a wall, mid-lecture. Those were good times. Of course, there was always the possibility of camera shrapnel taking out a student's eye I suppose...
Posted by LEE. on November 9, 2012 at 1:52 PM · Report this
monkey 5
Great teacher. He just taught a bunch of impressionable children that if someone interrupts you you should become violent. Because what the world really needs are more impatient intolerant assholes.
Posted by monkey on November 9, 2012 at 1:58 PM · Report this
Dougsf 6
So many teachable moments in this one short episode.
Posted by Dougsf on November 9, 2012 at 2:12 PM · Report this
Not defending this but my favorite teaches growing up acted similarly. Shove your face in their smelly shoe. Slam a croquet mallet on your desk. etc...

I learned more from those guys than any other teacher I had.
Posted by BusyB on November 9, 2012 at 2:19 PM · Report this
Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns...
Posted by ejamadoodle on November 9, 2012 at 2:26 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 9
Shades of Brother M in my high school algebra class.

The daily book throwing (for transgressions like not completing a homework assignment) would be followed by the "perp" being dragged from his desk by his tie (we all wore them) and then being pounded by erasers. All of this is true. But the year was 1978.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on November 9, 2012 at 2:26 PM · Report this
the duster 10
I teach in Mississippi. This would not be an issue.
Posted by the duster on November 9, 2012 at 2:31 PM · Report this
Maybe if you paid teachers more, you'd attract better quality people to the profession & you'd have fewer crazies.
Posted by The donut police on November 9, 2012 at 2:40 PM · Report this
A 500 page copy of the Odyssey? My 1918 translation easily fits into a shirt pocket - must be hella footnotes in that one.
Posted by COMTE on November 9, 2012 at 2:44 PM · Report this
Hernandez 13
@5 They're not toddlers, they're high schoolers. Drop the oversensitive "impressionable children" crap.

The book throwing was stupid, especially in today's litigious society. But I don't have much sympathy for a bratty teenager who thinks the world revolves around her at all times. Young people like that grow up to be shitty, thoughtless adults, which we certainly don't need more of.
Posted by Hernandez on November 9, 2012 at 2:45 PM · Report this
rara avis 14
It was way stupid to throw a book but, man, can I empathize. It's her asking "Why are you being so rude?" after she interrupts the class and does not leave when asked that gets me.

You ask a student to be on task, to stop talking, - anything- and this is too often the response you get. "Why are YOU being rude/picking on me/such a bitch?" They never seem to ask themselves the same question.

I know they're teenagers, and I love working with them most of the time. But this can drive one mad. For reals.
Posted by rara avis on November 9, 2012 at 3:08 PM · Report this
Boo fucking hoo her poow hand. We should encourage more book throwing at bratty teenagers.
Posted by matt! on November 9, 2012 at 3:09 PM · Report this
I do not want anyone without passion to be teaching. HS students react well to ridiculous, overblown behavior. it is often the only way to get them engaged in the subject matter (Odyssey...good luck). I always kept some old, beat up copies of the books my students were reading, and would routinely tear out pages, tear up chapters that sucked, throw them in the trash...whatever it took. I had lots of polite teachers who taught me nothing.
Posted by Chris Jury on November 9, 2012 at 3:09 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 17
@13, Winner of Slog for the day
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on November 9, 2012 at 3:15 PM · Report this
One of my high school teachers literally threw a student out of his classroom. The student had refused to cover his 'Happy Birthday Hitler' t-shirt. The teacher (Jewish) did not find the shirt to be clever or thought provoking. And the student was airborne for several feet. Not a problem in the late 80s.
Posted by catballou on November 9, 2012 at 4:00 PM · Report this
Rotten666 19
Ha. Yeah, that sounds like me (without the book tossing). Kids just walk in the middle of a lecture and interrupt while I was in the middle of a sentence. I used to tell them to piss off, I later found it much more fun to silently stare at them until they awkwardly slinked off. Rude little shits deserve to be treated like rude little shits.
Posted by Rotten666 on November 9, 2012 at 4:06 PM · Report this
Agree @4. My high school band teacher would throw his baton at kids who were screwing around when they were supposed to be paying attention. It usually hit a metal music stand with a loud clatter, got the kid's attention, we'd all laugh, and then get back to playing. He was a favorite teacher of most of his students, and we played really well, and we learned a lot.
Posted by brumal dictatorship on November 9, 2012 at 4:39 PM · Report this
I have two teenage sons, they drive me insane at times. Maybe I am too close to this issue. The funny thing about assholes- everyone has one and anyone can be one. It doesn't make you impressive. It makes you look pathetic. Try some wit. A sword maybe more forceful then a pen, but an snarky comment lasts a lifetime. Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell, but make them happy to be on their way. The teacher would have been much more affective by slamming the desk or table he was speaking behind. Pick it up and slam it everytime she spoke a word, then ask " It is quite rude to interupt, don't you think?" Slam the table again when she tries to answer: "does that mean anything to you?"
Embarassment is much more effective for a person who regards their peers opinions more then their own .opinion. Yes, I have instructed upper secondary classrooms.
Posted by pussnboots on November 9, 2012 at 4:42 PM · Report this
Confluence 22

That's how AMERICAN teenagers behave. Not all teenagers behave like that.

@15, 13

Right on! If their parents can't learn 'em, at least we've got teachers who are stepping up to the plate to kick their deserving asses.
Posted by Confluence on November 9, 2012 at 4:50 PM · Report this
Is the book okay?
Posted by jzimbert on November 9, 2012 at 5:17 PM · Report this
venomlash 24
I stand by that teacher fully.
Posted by venomlash on November 9, 2012 at 6:02 PM · Report this
Apparently she's never seen Stand And Deliver.
Posted by Spindles on November 9, 2012 at 6:18 PM · Report this
@21- teachers are strongly discouraged from embarrassing students. it is forbidden to almost the same extent as screaming or threatening. Even light hearted teasing can land in a series of long discussions with the vice principal, who will assuredly not have your back.

Teaching is a thankless, shit-eating job. no one with any common sense will become a teacher...which is why us teacher-types are all so fucking useless at anything but teaching. we all know this, and now you do too.
Posted by Chris Jury on November 9, 2012 at 6:23 PM · Report this
Rotten666 27
@22 Oh get a grip. Teenagers are assholes the world over. Most of the problem lies in the fact that teenage brains are wired to make them assholes.

And then there are the parents. Here in America we have helicopter parents. In China its the "little emperor" phenomenon.…

Same shit, different zip code.
Posted by Rotten666 on November 9, 2012 at 6:39 PM · Report this
Good for the teacher, the only problem I have with it is that he didn't throw the book at her head. Teaching is hard enough without having some dumbass walk in to your classroom thinking that her fleeting needs trump the education of dozens of her peers. Lesson learned, hopefully.
Posted by MR M on November 9, 2012 at 7:00 PM · Report this
A Concerned Parent 29
I recently graduated from Nathan Hale, we're all a bunch of shitheads.
Posted by A Concerned Parent on November 9, 2012 at 7:11 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 30
I'm old, but no one would blink at that at my Catholic grade school. Hell, the P.E. coach's favorite motivator was the threat to shove a softball bat up your ass.
Posted by Free Lunch on November 9, 2012 at 7:22 PM · Report this
I had an instructor in university (ex-Navy warrant officer) who routinely showed up to class with three packs of whiteboard markers. One pack was for actually working things out on the board; the other two were for throwing at students' heads. (Particularly those who fell asleep in his class.)

A 500-page book? Yeah, not so much. There is a fine line.
Posted by DonServo on November 9, 2012 at 8:07 PM · Report this
I am totally freaked out by all the people in this thread who think it's acceptable for a teacher to throw things at his students. What is wrong with you guys? "Someone did it to me" is not a justification. There are multiple issues at play here. First, this sounds like a completely inappropriate level of reaction to the infraction- the student asked for a notecard and the teacher started yelling at her to get out. Then, when the student thought the teacher was joking, the teacher threw a book at her. How is that an appropriate or even rational level of escalation? At all? Second, the teacher is an adult at work. He is supposed to be acting professionally because he's in the workplace. The student is not. Third, the balance of power between student and teacher makes this violence especially inappropriate. When an authority figure who is responsible for you (which a teacher is in a situation involving minors) gets violent, you have pretty much no immediate recourse because that person is in charge of you. Would anybody here be cool with their boss throwing a book at them in a meeting? If not, this shouldn't be okay either. In fact, it's worse, because while your boss has authority over you, they do not have the incredible authority of being an adult while you are still considered a child, and you have the option of leaving their employ. A student does not usually have this recourse.

By the way, for all you "kids are jerks, teaching is soooo hard it justifies this" folks, I am also a teacher. I would never throw something at one of my students, even if they were being much more disruptive than this girl reportedly was. If you find yourself feeling justified in intentionally humiliating, yelling, screaming, throwing things at your students and/or hitting them, it's probably time to hang it up. Even if you have no moral qualms about it (which, btw, is f-ed up), hurting, humiliating, and intimidating your students is not an effective strategy for creating an environment in which they feel safe to actively or enthusiastically engage in the learning process. You know what creates a good learning environment? Stability. Clear and consistent expectations. Boundaries which are enforced clearly and calmly by the teacher. An atmosphere in which it feels emotionally safe to speak up without being afraid of making mistakes. So, you know, volatile and random outbursts of rage and violence? Not particularly good at fostering that environment.
Posted by Sphinx on November 10, 2012 at 12:39 AM · Report this
I'm his student now and he is one of the best teachers that we have at Nathan Hale! If you know Mr.greenway you know not to Interrupt his class, in the beginning of the year he tells you don't get him notes and don't walk into his class room in the middle of class! It's simple!! This girl was rude and why in the world would you take back to him? Oh and the book did not hit her in the hand or head! #freegreenway
Posted by Tays24 on November 10, 2012 at 1:19 AM · Report this
Note cards?
Posted by WenG on November 10, 2012 at 2:26 AM · Report this
Sorry there's news here? Maybe that someone overreacted to the point of calling the cops on what sounds like a non-event. I called this teacher in my mind before I got to the part it says he came from NHHS, where I graduated 7 years ago. That just is the way this great teacher is, and that he flung a small paperback book across the room is literally a non event. Attempting to conflate this by including the dictionary reference is bullshit. I am completely confident, knowing this teacher, that the book he flung had no possibility of inflicting any serious harm, and that it smacking her hand was both an accident and a complete non-event.
Posted by MCllllll on November 10, 2012 at 10:03 AM · Report this
Durang Durang 36
My high school English teacher had a plastic penguin he would throw at kids who weren't paying attention. It was soft rubber, but hurt like hell. No one ever complained. They just did a better job of covering up whatever they were doing.
Posted by Durang Durang on November 10, 2012 at 1:58 PM · Report this
Dear the Stranger,

As a Nathan Hale student, I would like to clarify that the book never hit or hurt the student in any way. It in fact fell a good distance short of the student, according to the 20+ student witnesses in the class at the time. Many efforts have been made at Nathan Hale to bring our beloved, if sometimes zealous teacher, back from his indefinite suspension. I find it unfortunate that a newspaper that I both respect and learn from has inaccurately reported this incident.

Nathan Hale Student #6256143
Posted by Hughy on November 13, 2012 at 2:03 PM · Report this
I was in that class that day and this is not the complete truth. The teacher was frustrated but he DID NOT throw the book out of anger. It was a joke that was taken wrongly. The student was not hurt and there was another student who interrupted before hand. The "victim" was not the one who asked for the notecards she just waltzed in the room and stood there. Further disrupting an already distracted class. She did ask our teacher "OMG why are you so rude?!". My class is eagerly awaiting our beloved teacher's return.
Posted by YonHellCat on November 13, 2012 at 2:22 PM · Report this
I would like to know why the principal felt compelled to call the police?
I have a kid at this school and this guy is an excellent teacher. This has been overblown.
I mean really... the police???? Get a grip. Bureaucrats are big in Seattle Public Schools. A little common sense and good interpersonal skills might have fixed this situation.
Posted by Hortense on November 13, 2012 at 5:14 PM · Report this
I was also in class that day. no more than 4 feet from the student, in fact. It didn't hit her at all, not even in the hand. Everyone in the class, including the girl thought it was funny and I cannot believe how out of proportion this has been blown. He is one of my favorite teachers and everyone in our class is eagerly awaiting his return. #freegreenway
Posted by camille on November 13, 2012 at 8:45 PM · Report this
Former student of the accused here. This man is a fantastic teacher. He is very dramatic, but it makes him all the more enjoyable. I was looking forward to visiting him in class on my break from college next week, and I would even expect him to throw a book at me, and we would have a laugh about it and catch up on recent events. Alas, I won't be able, due to his suspension.

It is sad to see that because of a student who doesn't understand his humor that his job is in jeopardy. It would be a sad day for past, present and future students to lose him. He is a man of character who has done an incredible amount to help kids throughout his career and I feel that myself and others have become better people for having known him. Pity the district only views him as a liability...
Posted by SxeySteve on November 14, 2012 at 11:26 PM · Report this
As a student at Nathan Hale, I can safely say that this man is one of the best teachers I have ever had at any school I've been to. He is an EXTREMELY passionate teacher, and though this one sided report makes it sound like he was at fault, the student at hand wasn't an "innocent victim." She was extremely rude and interrupted an important moment for him teaching.

Not only that, but THE FACTS IN THIS ARTICLE ARE WRONG. The book did NOT hit the girl, even her hand, and every student in the class (in addition to the teacher involved) have testified that it obviously wasn't meant to hit the student, and was meant more to ward her off than anything else.

Next time, call the cops on people who actually do harm, not teachers who are so passionate about teaching that they overreact.

Let him throw the fucking book: no harm, no bad intent, NO FOUL.
Posted by #FreeGreenway on November 15, 2012 at 5:40 PM · Report this
I was in the class when it happened and it really wasn't out of anger why he threw the book. He turned around right after she ran out the door with a smirk on his face. He said, "Was that too much?" we all laughed as it happened. The issue here comes down to the school's and more accurately the Principal's reaction to the situation blowing it way out of proportion. Taking away our teacher is only going to make senior year a LOT more difficult for us.
Posted by LoneWolf on November 15, 2012 at 7:46 PM · Report this
The principal of Nathan Hale, Jill Hudson, strikes me as strongly opinionated and grudge holding. She gives out a very negative vibe and and is not liked by any of the students. In every experience I have had with her, her purpose has seemed to be intimidation. I am a student at the school and even though I did not have Mr. Greenway as a teacher, every single person I have talked to who has had him liked him and thought he was a great teacher. I have heard that the principal has been trying to get rid of him for a long time because he goes against her close-minded view of what a good teacher is.
Posted by anon hale student on November 19, 2012 at 5:24 PM · Report this
This teacher is the very best of what Nathan Hale has to offer. As a recent grad, let me assure you that this article is an ill report of his character. This teacher knows that there is something sacred about the classroom environment. Something that must be respected and preserved: A serious learning atmosphere.

To those students who think that their high school classes don't matter... think again. Pay attention, savor the time you have there, and for heaven's sake, give your teachers the respect they deserve.
Posted by Athena's Messenger on November 20, 2012 at 4:36 PM · Report this
Teachers need parents rights, parents need to learn rights!(from wrongs).
Posted by dads on January 15, 2013 at 1:45 PM · Report this
What a twisted world. Rights to kids? What were you thinking? They exploited it to the point of no rules to their future well being.
Posted by dads on January 15, 2013 at 2:03 PM · Report this
Kids beat adults now, kids tell adults to fuck off now, kids dont work now and kids shit on the education system. Why spend tax dollars on education if this is what we are buying? I'm pissed at all you lazy ass bastards that scream "protect my child" while your off celebrating freedom that the teacher has him for a few hours. Get off welfare and raise your kids right. Work and education go together, in that order!
Posted by dads on January 15, 2013 at 2:25 PM · Report this
The teachers and the schools are changing now. This is reall happens in my family. Since May, 2012.My daugher was 4 and she told me that she was hit by her preschool teacher. I called social services. Social services said I should believe my daughter and they suggest me to call the police. I did. I went to police station. After I done the police report, things start getting strange. 1) Someone collecting toy guns and put them in front of our front door. 2) someone we don't know came to my front door at midnight putting hands in my mail box. Looks like she is trying to get my mails. 3) someone who I don't know sneaking around my front door -these actions are recorded on my home security camera . 3) Someone starting spreading rumors to my friends about my daugher and said how bad she is 4) Someone starting spreading rumors to my neightbors about me and said that I am crazy so don't believe what I say. 5) Someone who I know stating giving me suggestion about " Not mention anything related to the school and my daugher ". 6) Someone who I first met in my neightbor told me that the preschool where we send my daughter to might have SPECIAL BACKGROUND. So,stop mention anything about your child being hit in that school. Am I got threatning ?
Posted by believe in truth on August 4, 2013 at 7:02 AM · Report this

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