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Clearly, these are classrooms populated by students who aren't interested in being educated. The teachers are either substitutes or very stressed educators who are probably not supported by their administration when needed. The bigger issue to me is whether the states in which these recordings took place would view this as an illegal act. In most states, you cannot record another without his/her permission. These students are all probably breaking school rules for having their cell phones on and out for use, but they may also be breaking federal and state voice recording laws.

Martin Weiss

It is saddening to watch these videos, and the students wasting opportunities given to them.

On a wider scale, I definately do not think it applaudable to post these videos on YouTube - or anywhere else. Besides the obvious infringement against privacy protection, these videos have more potential in getting other students to film even worse situations, so they can boast about them.

John Gross

I think probably all of these classes would be just ecstatic about project based anything. Say what you will, some kids do not belong in a school of any kind. It's illegal and unconstitutional to do this type of taping and IMHO the people who video taped these really need to be disciplined, perhaps expelled for the remainder of the year or permanently. I've responded several times about how no matter what we do in education today, it isn't going to work with all students. I've been in these situations many times and unbacked by a helpful supporting administration the kids will run the school. I even hate to mention corporal punishment in a post but....Now that ought to start something. For heavens sake don't be allowed to touch the little darlings.

Wonder why teachers are leaving the profession by the bus load?

chris morgan

Riveting post--wonderful for discussion. If I were to show these videos in class, I'd be sure to stress the notions of context and construct--especially with that last one (could it be scripted?).

I'd talk about how we do not have to see these actions as EITHER something to be punished OR something to be applauded. I'd caution them on the dangers of making judgments before knowing all the important information. Then, I'd watch them again! :)

Dave Sherman

Whether these acts of disrespect are recorded on video or not, this is taking place in too many classrooms across the country. Please note that I have not stated who was being disrespectful to whom in these videos. That is for you to decide. I am a little unnerved, however, that some of the people commenting about this so quickly and easily blame "administrators." The issue here is not legal or illegal videotaping. It is about bad teaching. It is about bored students. It is about disengaged learners. Why is it that this behavior only happens in some classes and not others? I bet that most of these students do not act this way in the classrooms of the teachers who understand the importance of making learning engaging, real, and authentic. The teachers in these videos should be blamed for this. Their behavior sickens me. They are adults who have lost touch and who have forgotten how to relate to children. Yelling and swearing at children is never the answer. Corporal punishment, John? You have got to be kidding. The only administrators who should be blamed are the ones who let these pathetic teachers get tenure in the first place.

Doug Johnson

Upton Sinclair cleaned up the meat packing industry with the publication of The Jungle in the early 20th century.

Is this the classroom's version of The Jungle? Might such citizen journalism result in instructional reform (or at least anger management classes for teachers who need it?)

What really disturbs me is that as a young classroom teacher, I've had moments similar to these. Tough to look in the mirror at times.

Fascinating post, great questions and intriging comments, Scott!


Scott McLeod

FYI, discussion on this is strong at my blog, Dangerously Irrelevant:


and also here:


There are a number of posts linking to this one or the one at Dangerously Irrelevant. Here are two good ones:



John Gross

No Dave, I'm not kidding. It's the inability to do anything to restore some semblance of order. Do a little real time research and find out when this lack of respect began.

It started when parents and schools took the discipline out of the home and classroom. My career spanned both, discipline and none. Parents quit kicking kids asses, schools stopped kicking kids asses , and parents stopped kicking kids asses when they got their ass kicked in schools, respect disappeared altogether. Respect for parents, respect for authority, respect in general, gone. Maybe it was fear rather than respect but we had control and the good, decent, law abiding kids learned. Let's face it, and we'll obviously never agree here, but there's nothing like a modicum of fear to instill a little respect for authority.

I agree totally that kids are bored, tough sh*t life isn't always exciting either. I'm not so sure if schools will ever be able to please everyone. I also don't care what the schools do in the way of change, some of these kids will be disrespectful anyway, no matter what the school attempts to do for them. Personally, I get a little tired of the schools being blamed for today's societies' problems and ills.

You never addressed why teachers are leaving the profession by the bus load. Watch the videos again and it's obvious to me.

Doug Johnson

I expanded by comments here:


Great post and comments, Scott.



These were so sad. I think it is wrong to post these on youtube because students (including the ones taping them) think this is funny and socially acceptable but I guess freedom of speech allows them to do this. Of course, I plan to show these in the course I'm teaching new teachers to explain the importance of having control of your class. I also have made it a point to act in my classroom as if anybody could be taping me at any time or any parent could walk into my room at any time without an appointment (I wouldn't want them to but they could). I think this thought kept me acting professional most of the time which I don't the teachers in these video did. I felt embarrassed for the teacher in each of these videos because I didn't see any respect between the teacher and the students.


I think these would be excellent teacher preparation material as the poster above me mentioned they'll be using them as. Should the students be applauded? I think to an extent yes. They should be in that they are standing up for themselves and not accepting sub-par instruction. But they should be taught what would be an appropriate response once they have these recordings should be. That's where teaching "digital citizenship" comes in. And once again the "just because we CAN, SHOULD we?" comes into play.

Lina L

Wow. So much to say to this. Of course the comments could go either way, but I agree that it is hard to pass judgement without knowing all of the facts in each situation. Some were obviously substitute teachers. Others, yes, stressed.

I am increasing saddened by people who say that the teaching is horrible and that any "good" teacher would be able to keep students engaged and excited. Well, I would beg to differ. I teach high school English (for the past 9 years) and it is not always possible to keep the students engaged and excited about the content. If technology isn't working, administration is letting you send kids down for being disruptive, parents don't call you back, and kids have IEP's for behavioral problems that must be dealt with delicately, a teacher's patience can be pushed to the limits.

I have experienced that frustration level, but always managed to temper myself a bit, I think. I have talked, cajoled, spoken sternly, redirected, stood silent, talked one on one, planned exciting hands on projects, you name it. If the students have a different agenda that day, they push it to the max. Unfortunately, I notice the "good" students even take pleasure in seeing the class get off task.

I think we have to be careful by saying that students need to learn how to listen to an authority figure and that's that. Respect is still a two way street. I get very far with my students when I have actual class discussions about life and right and wrong. When I let them voice their concerns and opinions without putting them down for their views, the atmosphere just shifts a bit to a better place; but not every day can be that way. Sometimes, the very next day the students forgot they liked you yesterday and all bets are off.

I do not exactly applaud the students that recorded these situations. In fact, it means that they sat by passively and somewhat enjoying the "fun" as indicated by much laughter. I know students who have said that they try to get a teacher upset just to tape them and post it.

In my personal, and professional, opinion that is sick. There really is something wrong with a society that is raising our children to think someone else's pain is funny, or to see people get stressed and frustrated.

It really isn't a wonder why teacher retention is becoming more and more difficult.

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