I am spending the month of December talking about one of my favorite 2011 books, Hound Dog True, with my friend Jen from Teach Mentor Texts.
Jen and I had this conversation in a Google Doc. Her text is pink and mine is black.
When I read the part about the girl named Star reading Mattie’s notebook, I felt like I was right there with all the hanging-up coats beside Mattie as she watched Star with her notebook and didn’t know what to do. I’ve had that feeling of being so distraught but not being able to say anything. Just being frozen. It reminds me of when someone is mean and then hours later you think of the perfect come back and you wish you could go back in time and respond how you want to respond. I can’t think of a specific time that this has happened, but I know it has.
I like how Mattie says even though it’s only Star saying “og-ree” to her, just that one word, it still counts as bullying. I think that’s important for adults to recognize and for kids to recognize, too. Sometimes we don’t think about our actions and even something so teeny, tiny little can still make someone feel so small. This reminds me of Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why. All those little negative interactions can add up to make someone feel so horrible about him or herself. Plus, everyone perceives things differently. What may seem trivial to one person is the opposite to someone else.
A few weeks ago a classroom teacher shared a bullying activity with me. Students are asked to take out a piece of paper and crumple it up, squish it as tight as can be, stomp on it and then open it back up and look at the piece of paper. Now imagine that piece of paper represents a person. It shows how when we bully someone it makes an impact on them – that piece of paper is still a piece of paper, but it doesn’t look the same after someone has attacked it and it can never go back to the way it was before. That’s the same way with a person, it may not seem like one word that you say to a person can make a difference, but that one word can stick with them forever and does change who they are.
I think reading Hound Dog True, or even just the parts about Star and Mattie and doing the crumpled-up-paper activity would be a great way to start a discussion about bullying. We need to recognize that there are different levels of bullying but that none of it acceptable.
That piece of paper activity sounds intense, but I guess bullying can be pretty intense. It is nice to see a book portray bullying in non lunch money stealing sort of way. I think that people on the outside have a picture of what bullying is in their mind, and they don’t realize that bullying like what took place in this book is a huge issue. The type of bullying that Mattie faced, I feel, is also harder to identify and stop.
I wasn’t ever really bullied in school. I feel very lucky. How about you?
I wasn’t bullied either but there was one girl who was always super mean. I have no idea why this girl didn’t like me, but it seemed like ever since our elementary schools combined in 4th grade, she just never liked me. All through high school she was just rude. I’m not a fan of people who aren’t polite. I’m not saying she had to be my best friend, but she didn’t have to be rude. She would make unkind comments or make weird faces and was just really snotty.
There is a teacher at one of the schools I work at now who acts like I don’t even exist when he sees me in the hall. It might be just him and I passing each other in the hallway and he acts like I’m not even in the hall. I have no idea why it’s so hard for him to even acknowledge that I exist but it reminds me of that same girl from when I was in school. I try not to let it bother me now but sometimes I find myself just wondering why. If I had done something awful to him, I would get it but I can’t think of anything I have done to warrant that kind of treatment.
It’s weird, look how these people can make me feel icky without even having to do anything. Just by ignoring me they make me feel inferior.
I find it interesting how adults deal with bullies differently than kids. You feel icky and maybe inferior, but you don’t react the same way that Mattie does to being bullied. I guess it helps that as adults we get to have a little more control over the people we Internet with. I can’t imagine being a 10 year old and feeling tortured by having to spend 7 hours a day in a classroom with someone that makes your feel so sad.