Think about that word. How does it make you feel? Is it positive? Productive? Or does it sound hollow?

We have a problem in our public education system in this country. Maybe not in all schools. But it’s in the one my son attends. You want to know where bullying starts? Look at the administration. Look at some of the teachers.

I was sitting where I sit every day while I wait for Gabe to get out of school. A class walked by, and a teacher barked at one child.

“You are in isolation. Do not look at or talk to anyone.”

In front of me she said this as if a child in elementary school could have deserved it.


It’s an ugly word. If you don’t think so, look it up. Add to that a search for symptoms of depression and suicide. And tell me that putting a child in isolation is beneficial. Tell me that teaching other children to shun a child is beneficial to them.


Know what it does? It desensitizes them. It teaches them that it’s okay to isolate someone. If the teacher says to do it, it must be okay. In elementary school they are learning this! And we’re surprised when they kill each other in junior high? Why?

Why are we surprised when some children get shunned by everyone? We have to be responsible and teach our children that people matter. Not just when they behave, but always. Isolation is not discipline. It is torture. Some will think I’m over-reacting, but I’m not. I saw the other kids snub that little boy. They would get in trouble for being kind to him. How sad. How very sad.

I thought about what she would have said if she had actually given the definition of the word. It would have gone something like this.

“You are alone and alienated from everyone else. No one cares for you. What you’ve done has separated you from society and marked you with shame. Lonliness. Don’t try to change it with kindness. It’s too late.”


Teachers, while you’re handing out vocabulary words, please remember that words have power. And look up the ones you use.


~ by Rachel McMahon on October 18, 2011.

6 Responses to “Isolation”

  1. I was that kid..not because I was obnoxios but because I had a learning disability I did not know until I was older. I was impulsive had a hard time understanding directions and finaly stopped asking teachers questions because they would get frustrated be sarcastic and my peers would be the same way following the teachers lead. In 6th grade I remember nit doing my home work right and my teacher Mr Prichard stooped down in front of me, eye level in my face while I was seating at my desk… He started asking me why I did what I did in front of all the students and being so animated and sarcastic that he had the kids laughing… I had a mixture of humiliation, shame but did all I could do to try to hide it and laugh with the others but instead . My mouth would quickly and repetivly go from an extreme smile to an extreme frown due to almost Mr Prichard impersonated my mouth movements mocking me and having the whole classroom busting outloud laughing at me during a very vulnurable time in my life…these things happened to me most of my childhood and adolesence.. I remember praying everyday before I went to school that I would not get humiliated at school and would find freindship.. I saw the world as cold and often felt a feeling of abandonment and lonliness. To be honest I do not have many fond memories in childhood. While other kids were carefree I worried all the time and afraid I was going to do or say something stupid that would cause kids or teachers to scorn me and put me on the spot and my mind would go blank…my heart would palpitate and I would respond in a stupid way with words that I would be reminded for and mocked for the rest of the school year feeling the need to hold my head in shame. It was tough cuz I was naturaly a bubbly sanguine kid but because I was easily shamed I would withdrawl into my own little lonely world, so pent up with anxiety and dread that it seemed I could never translate my thoughts and feelings into words and when I did, I was sorry. Anyway… Experienced isolation and it is very crippling and can cause one to walk with a limp all their lives. I agree kids should never be made to feel isolated but know that even if they make mistakes that they are lovable and do not have to be taught to seperate themselves from their peers or communuties in shame.. They are not duds but in process

  2. Thank you for sharing that! How awful that must have been for you.

  3. Great blog, Babe. You really know how to open eyes. I wish I could send this to teachers everywhere.

  4. I agree! I think there should be a refresher course, every six weeks, for the Teachers to remind them how to react to others! (I know I’m exaggerating on the every 6 weeks) To remind them “why” they wanted to be a Teacher. Some say its their passion. Passion to do what? To make our kids hate going to school, because their bullied by their Teachers! To remind them that not every child is going to be the same. Every year since my kids have been in school, I have fought for them as if “I” am their Lawyer! Every year, every parent Teacher conference, I am there reminding the Teachers that, every day should start out as a “New” day. You can’t carry over punishment from the previous days by putting a child in a corner by himself, because he disturbs you! What good does that do? When you do that, that makes them feel out of sight out of mind. And yeah, they are going to disturb your class, because they are wanting attention & they are bored! The kids have to come to school to learn. So teach them, include them as you do every child. Maybe its the Teacher that should be suspended because he/she isn’t smart /wise/educated enough to get on certain kids level. I am a parent that knows my children are not angels all day, everyday. But I can’t suspend my kid, just because. Oh and by the way, those Teachers that thought they could throw markers or erasers at my kid, to get their attention. Or even pinch my kid, & make it look like you were just directing where you wanted them to go. You thought wrong, didn’t ya! Teachers need to remember, they are kids, not robots. You know the expression, that yes women can give birth to a child, but not everyone can be a Mom. Same goes for Teachers, If you can’t handle the job, then find a new Profession.

  5. Thanks Rachel. Yeah,it was awful but has allowed me to have an open heart to people who have been written off and treated like throw aways of society. Even though I was raised in a majority anglo area, I find a diverse group of people I can relate too and sympathize with.. It is good to not be that kid anymore and be an adult and have more choices and feel less stuck.

  6. Situations like the one you experienced, aggravate me. As a son of a teacher, I know all too well how mindful teachers need to be. Sorry you had to go through that.

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