“The Experiment” – Helping Disruptive Students Become Successful

“The Experiment” by Karen Case Ho-Ching (June 2006 Ensign) describes an experience she had as an elementary school teacher dealing with a disruptive child. Her approach defied current wisdom about special education children. The wonderful results may have been a complete fluke, a rare miracle, but the principle of helping others show love and kindness even to the most annoying among us is inspired and can lead to dramatic changes in all who try this. I’ve seen evidence that cruelty and exclusion by peers can turn bright kids away from academic success. And in the Church, it can turn people away from the Gospel, wiping out many spiritual IQ points as well.

I urge you to read “The Experiment.”


Author: Jeff Lindsay

5 thoughts on ““The Experiment” – Helping Disruptive Students Become Successful

  1. I remember reading that last year; I enjoyed it and found it as beautiful as you did.

    I want to take a moment though and remind teachers and leaders everywhere not only to reach out to the disruptive kids but to the quiet, well-behaved ones as well. I had an experience very similar to the one of the little boy who was the subject of the article. My response wasn’t to be disruptive but to withdraw. Negative attention was definitely not better than none, not for me. As a result, I did very badly in my classes.

    I know teachers are overworked — my husband is a teacher, believe me I know! And I know class sizes make it difficult for teachers to deal with all the kids. But please remember that just because some of us don’t make trouble doesn’t mean we don’t have trouble.

  2. In some ways the article is unfortunate in that it makes changing disruptive students appear too easy.

    In very few cases would it work as it did in your story.

  3. This story reminds me of a movie I watched recently called The Freedom Writers. It was about an idealistic teacher who had decided to give up law school to instead help keep kids from needing defense attorneys by getting an education. She went to a school that had formerly been considered a great school, but because of some reorganization it had become more of a ghetto environment. She got pretty frustrated in her efforts to teach the class of kids that seemed mainly to attend because it was required by law. Then one day one kid drew a caricature of another, and she took the opportunity to point out how drawings like that had been used by one of the most terrible “gangs” in history to demonize their sworn enemies. She compared it to the propaganda the Nazis used against the Jews. That helped her students finally open up to her, and then decided they should start writing journals. If anyone wanted her to read what he or she wrote, they just needed to leave it in a closet she would lock at the end of class each day. What followed was miraculous. You might think this story was an English class version of Stand & Deliver (how one man helped kids become successful enough to ace the AP Calculus test). Like that one, this story is based on a true one, and the real teacher from the story collaborated heavily in making Freedom Writers. I highly recommend it.

  4. Perhaps a little unrealistic? True. But then again, success is often unrealistic, at least any success worth talking about.

    I think that we should enter problems like this with the intent to succeed, not wondering how our efforts will probably be in vain.

    Keep up with the idealism, I say. At the end of the day, it’s just another -ism that deserves a place at the table shoulder to shoulder with cynicism and skepticism.

  5. My youngest son is one of those “difficult” children, awhile back he begged my to rent “The Ron Clark Story” a movie about a teacher is a problem classroom, we really enjoyed it.

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