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10-Year-Old Accused Of ‘Talking Back’ After Correcting Teacher’s Mistake During Class

Student raising his hand in class
Alejandra Villa Loarca/Newsday RM/Getty Images

While children are progressing through school, they should not only be learning the curriculum but also how they will participate among larger society.

This includes developing independence and a voice, among other things, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

So when Redditor asdasds343 heard that their son had spoken up in class in an effort to correct their teacher about a point she had made, they were not immediately concerned.

But when the principal demanded that they talk to their son about being respectful of authority, the Original Poster (OP) began to wonder if they were enrolled in the right school.

They asked the sub:

“AITA for not punishing my child after he corrected his teacher?”

A disagreement occurred in the OP’s son’s classroom.

“My 10-year-old son had to watch some Snoopy cartoon in class during which Woodstock eats a roast turkey. The teacher told the class that this is fictional and that birds don’t eat other birds.”

“My son corrected her and said something along the lines of, ‘My uncle trains falcons to hunt other birds at the airport to protect the airplanes.'”

The OP did not agree with the principal and the teacher’s viewpoints.

“The teacher got upset and said he was ‘disrespectful’ and ‘talking back’ and sent him to the principal’s office.”

“I got called and they explained the situation, and that he had corrected the teacher.”

“I said, ‘Well, was he right?'”

“The principal said, ‘It doesn’t matter, this was rude and you need to teach your son to show some respect to authority.'”

“I told the principal, ‘I’m not going to punish my son or make him apologize if he was right. Maybe your teacher should be better educated.'”

“The principal looked a bit shocked and just told me to leave. Fine by me. Really reconsidering this school.”


Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some wondered about the student’s tone of voice.

“Your son is 100% correct but if he said this in a disrespectful manner (tone/volume/eyeroll/etc…), then that needs to be corrected.” – snewton_8

“You can be correct and still be an AH.” – pnutbuttercups56

“The point wasn’t about content. You can make the same point respectfully or disrespectfully based on tone, word choice, etc. It also depends on what else was said when making the point.”

“For example, if I had started this comment with, ‘You clearly don’t know how to read because,’ then the tone would have been totally different even if the substance was the same. I’m not saying OP’s son did anything like that, but that’s why more info might be needed.” – fdar

“The fact that the principal only said that he corrected the teacher, and said nothing about his tone, implies that OP’s son said it respectfully. Granted, OP could have left that out of the story, but, as long as they’re being truthful, I’m pretty sure it was only about being corrected.”

“I like to give kids the benefit of the doubt, though, because I know that there are teachers that are on permanent power trips, and, no matter how respectfully a kid says it, those types of teachers will always be offended when they’re corrected.” – bad-wolf-moment

“The reason OP was given for being in the office was that he was disrespectful and was talking back. When OP was given the context they asked if the kid was right… which has nothing to do with whether he was disrespectful or not.”

“OP said that he/she will not punish little Timmy if he was right about what he said… and was asked to leave. That was an AH move.”

“I feel we are not getting the whole truth and we are missing information about how the teacher was corrected. Honestly though OP’s exchange with the principle makes OP seem like an AH and little Timmy is learning said behavior.” – wngman

But others were more concerned about the push for authority.

“Often times young kids are guilty of ‘well actually’ syndrome. They are so eager to show off their knowledge on a topic, it can come off as smug and condescending.”

“As a kid who was obsessed with wild life, I was definitely guilty of this in life sciences lessons. Luckily, I had teachers with patience for my a**holishness.”

“However, even if OP’s son was a jerk about the correction, the school is still wrong. They are making him apologize for the wrong thing. They are making him apologize for being correct instead of explaining to his how to respectfully address others and having him apologize for being rude.”

“It’s entirely possible that the teacher/principal don’t have the emotional intelligence to verbalize why OP’s son should be apologizing. So they defaulted to the most surface level thing.” – sk9592

“They’re punishing intelligence! What kind of school is this?! Take that poor child to a new nest so he can learn to fly. This is probably where the dodo birds went to school.”

“Definitely NTA.” – tattednip

“This could have been handled so easily by the teacher (‘that’s interesting, Jimmy, maybe we’ll talk more about birds of prey later… anyway, class, about the cartoon…’), with no one being the wiser.”

“Lack of tact on Johnny’s part? Perhaps. But he’s 10 damned years old, and the teacher is the adult and professional in this instance, like kids being know-it-alls is an occurrence that a teacher would never anticipate and plan for?” – Duke_Newcombe

“Your kid sounds cool, and he was sharing some facts with the teacher and class. The teacher got mad because she lost face (in her mind).”

“The principal reinforced that the teacher’s ego was more important than factual information and that students are not allowed to have independent thoughts. Find a new school as soon as possible.” – chickenfightyourmom

“As a teacher, I’ve been corrected by kids for my lack of information or narrow perspective. I thank them for sharing with me and highlight that we all have so much to learn from each other. This should’ve been handled better.”

“As educators, we are not expected to know everything but to teach critical thinking. OP’s kid was demonstrating a skill that should have been reinforced. You’re right, the teacher’s ego got in the way.” – Amy9609

“I saw someone online say before: Sometimes people use ‘respect’ to mean ‘treating someone like a person’ and sometimes they use ‘respect’ to mean ‘treating someone like an authority.'”

“And sometimes people who are used to being treated like an authority say, ‘If you won’t respect me, I won’t respect you,’ but they mean, ‘If you won’t treat me like an authority, I won’t treat you like a person,’ and they think they’re being fair but they aren’t, and it’s not okay.”

“I’d pull your kid if I were you. The fish rots from the head.” – Enlightened_Gardener

A few shared stories of also speaking up in school.

“When my son was in first or second grade, the teacher was talking about the biggest dinosaur being the brontosaurus.”

“My son chimed in that the brachiosaurus was bigger, he thought.”

“Instead of reprimanding him or arguing, the teacher used it as a lesson and had the kids look it up online.” – Workablestink

“I got out-of-school suspension in fourth grade for pointing out that the geographic and magnetic poles are not the same, and not backing down when she ‘corrected’ me.”

“I pointed at the globe and said, ‘Look! they’re right here!’and she told the principal I shouted at her and threw a tantrum.”

“That day out of school was lovely.” – Jaralith

“I got sent to the office because I disagreed with my science teacher when she told us that a flying plane would be affected by an earthquake.” – ivanparas

“This was in the 60’s, but my teaching nun in Catholic school told us that God created the earth to be in the perfect place near the sun. 1 inch closer and we’d burn up, 1 in further away we’d freeze.”

“So little third-grade me raised my hand and asked her what about the hills and valleys?”

“She totally ignored me and turned away. I could hear the other kids laughing, though.” – booksgamesandstuff

“Hello memories of an overly literal adolescence.”

“In fourth grade, I spent several minutes studying the world map on the wall looking for ‘the smallest sea’ on a geography quiz and decided on the Aral Sea. Nope, they meant the smallest of the seven main oceans.”

“And in fifth grade, the first division quiz had all forward slashes instead of division signs and I skipped them entirely, not knowing what they were.” – Catvros

Though the subReddit wondered if there was a little more to the story, like an attitude on the student’s part, they otherwise didn’t see the harm in a student talking to their teacher about a fact they thought they knew that was in disagreement with the teacher’s points.

Rather, being able to have these clarifying conversations is an important skill for any adult, and if they’re asking questions in the classroom, that’s just further proof that they’re thinking critically.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit