Today my students and I are writing on the word ‘ostracize.’ I’ll go first.
I’ve always had a heart for the outcasts, the underdogs, the ugly ducklings. When I was growing up there was a boy in our church named Harold, a loner who was tall and lanky as Ichabod Crane. His face was so pockmarked that the other kids said it had more holes than a golf course.
One day I saw him sitting at the end of a pew all by himself and wondered if I should go sit beside him… but I didn’t really want to go that far, I mean, what would people think?
So I came up with another plan to inform him that someone knew he existed. I pulled a stick of Spearmint Gum from my prized pack, marched straight down the aisle to where he sat, and held it out to him. How embarrassing when he shook his head ‘no,’ he didn’t want it.
Fast forward 10 years to the school pariah at ENCSD where I taught P.E. Cassie was so obese that all the other children made fun of her. She waddled when she walked and was clumsy and inept at sports and most everything else she attempted.
No one gave her the time of day. Whenever we played competitive games like kick ball or held relay races, none of the team captains chose her. She was left standing alone while all the others stood together on their individual teams, gearing up for the fun.
And so I made Cassie my official pet and assigned her the role of captain so she’d get to choose team members instead of being automatically swept to the sideline. When we lined up to go back inside the building I placed her in front of the others and said, “Follow Cassie, the leader.”
This psychology actually works. Children are not oblivious to the treatment others receive, and they tend to follow suit when another is well esteemed. When they were with me on the playground the other kids began showing respect for Cassie, and eventually stopped poking fun and ridiculing her altogether.
Then there was the Christian blog group that ostracized me because, apparently, only pontificating was tolerable, and if you didn’t preach to the choir they didn’t want you. Their motto seemed to be, “You tell me what I know and I’ll tell you what you know.”
When have you encountered ostracism?