Teachers reprimanding students: How far is too far?

Photo courtesy of Vynessah Dasher

“Momma was right, you can be so smart that you’re actually dumb.”

Abe Drisdom, a third year broadcast journalism student, and classmates say this is what a professor said in response to a side-bar conversation involving Drisdom and another student during class Tuesday afternoon.

“I felt embarrassed and frustrated, I didn’t want to participate for the rest of the class,” said Drisdom.

Aside from educating, a teacher’s role is to illuminate paths and help students to solidify their goals. While insulting students may seem like no big deal to some, many others see this as a need for classroom etiquette training.

Despite Drisdom’s apparent frustration and confusion, the J-school hopeful expressed his concern for the professor as well, stating that “everyone has bad days.”

Drisdom, is a community college transfer student from Tampa, and like many other students, just looking to follow his heart, solidify his career goals, and find his place in the world.

Students look to their professors for guidance and reassurance. Negative interactions may impact how students view education in the long run. This can take form as students dropping out of college, adopting the narrative that college is not for them or not aspiring towards higher education at all.

Tallahassee Mental Health Therapist, Etheria Goosby, says that verbal abuse is a very serious matter and many times trigger its victims, ultimately, shutting them down.

“Think about this: when you’re a child you trust the person that is governing you because that person is influential to you,” Goosby said. “If for any reason that person verbally abuses you it is going to shut you down.”

The mental health expert added that in many cases unkind words may even lower the victim’s self-esteem and lead to depression.

Emmanuel Yahoshua, a Tallahassee community college student says that he first experienced trauma in the first grade when his teacher announced to the class that he would be getting held back because he wasn’t as advanced as the other students. This opened the door for bullying from his classmates and hardship the following year when he returned to the same school to repeat the first grade.

“I tend to think about it often, it is a sad moment in my life, but as of now I think about it as a teaching moment, learning from the moment I was embarrassed and downplayed in front of my class that way,” Yahoshua said.

Despite this rough patch in early education, Yahoshua is determined to thrive. He plans to return to Tallahassee Community College where he will complete his degree requirements then transfer to FAMU.

Teacher-student interactions have the potential to impact a student’s life forever. For that reason, teachers have an incredible amount of responsibility to their students. When applying for classes students trust that professors are not only competent, but sensitive to the needs and differing backgrounds of their students.