I had a very uncomfortable experience Thursday during class. I think that mutual dislike for one of the students in my class, escalated to teacher condoned bullying today.
The guy’s name is “X” and he’s clearly very sheltered, desperate to prove himself, and a major kiss ass. Allow me to elaborate, the kid asked someone to explain what overtime was, whenever something goes wrong in class he uses the textbook definitions like idle time, waste, etc. to describe the situation in an attempt to get brownie points, and finally this guy only goes to take a smoke when the prof goes to take a smoke. I could go on but I feel those incidents adequately sum it up.
Until today, his sheltered responses in class were met with quiet flabbergasted are-you-kidding-me looks shared among class members. Which made me feel bad for him but it wasn’t overly serious in terms of being offending. And it’s not as if these looks were shared without reason, his responses really are illogical, sheltered or suck up comments. Today however, I was early for class since I had to do a presentation, and some other people were there too when the prof arrived. The prof takes attendance, and fyi when “X” walks in late he usually tells the prof not to mark him absent. So the prof turns to the few of us that are there early after pulling out his file and says “oh look! X is gonna run in and tell me ‘Sir I’m here don’t mark me absent’”. This ended up potentially being the catalyst for bullying behaviours. Out of the people that were early and privy to these comments were “A” and “B” who are the two guys that dislike “X” the most, and the first to spin around with WTF looks every time “X” opens his mouth. So when “X” finally arrives - which was 40 mins late - he without fail tells the prof “Oh sir, I’m sorry I’m so late but I’m not absent” and this comment the prof turns to “A” and “B” and says “what did I tell you?” and then “X” continues with “I’ll tell you a really funny story about why I’m late later”. At this point the whole class realizes that the prof is as fed up and annoyed with X’s behaviour as we are. So for the rest of the class X’s comments and responses weren’t met with quiet shared looks, but audible laughing and chuckling (and in some cases comments).
It’s a really thin line, but I think that it did escalate into group bullying that was catalyzed by the prof making fun of X’s behaviours along with the class. And I’m somewhat torn, I mean I feel bad for this sheltered kid who can’t even begin to understand what he’s doing wrong, but at the same time it’s like DUDE you’re asking to be made fun of!* I mean what’s the right way to deal with this situation?
* (and I know hard-core humanitarians say that no one asks to be made fun of, but until we live in an utopian world there are things that people can do to ask to made fun of - not saying it’s right. But it’s the way it is)
Do you think that this qualifies as bullying or am I just reading too much into it? And how am I supposed to do anything to prevent it from escalating further?