Teacher refuses to call my son by his first name - HELP!

mister_matthewNovember 7, 2002

I'm in England and so we haven't got the same school system as yours.

Me and my brother were educated in the public (i.e. not run by the government) school system. After a lot of thought, in September '01 I sent my son (now five) to a state school. I felt that if it didn't work out I could pull him out and send him to my old prep school, where classes start at seven years old.

My son's christian names are Emmanuel Joseph and our surname is Roland.

When he started Reception (the lowest class in England) in Sept 01, his teacher decided that his name was "too religious" for a mixed-religion school and refused to call him by it.

My son suggested that she call him Manny, like my brother Alex does, and she said no because she doesn't "call pupils by nicknames because they are common".

She told my son that in school he would be called by his second name, Joseph.

I didn't go to parents' evening because I am a doctor and do shift work. In his end of year report, Emmanuel was constantly called "your son".

Emmanuel kept quiet about the issue because he thought he would have a new teacher in Year 1.

Unfortunately, the school has changed systems and now the teacher follows a class all the way through infants (the first three years of school).

I wonder whether I should pull him out and wait until he is old enough for prep school in September '04, or try and go and speak to the teacher. This situation clearly distresses my son and I am unsure how to deal with it.

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Talk to the teacher and if that doesn't help, talk to the principal. It would seem a shame to pull him from school without trying to solve the problem first.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2002 at 4:44PM
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What a crazy situation. A teacher who refuses to call a student by his name, saying it is too religious. You need to talk to the teacher, and then the principal or head master. In the meantime, talk with your son about this and help him not be so upset about it all. He needs to understand that the teacher is not disapproving of HIM. The big question is whether or not he is receiving a good education, being treated with respect, and is making nice friends. The teacher needs to learn a few lessons too--about tolerance.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2002 at 8:35PM
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That teacher is insane. What if he was Muslim and named Mohammad, or Jewish and named Elijah - would she refuse to call him by his first name then, those names are "religious"? Anyway, talk to the teacher. If it's distressing your child, you need to intervene with the teacher. The last time I checked, England was still a free country and people can name their children whatever they wish!

I'm having a similar problem with my son in Kindergarten (the first US level). From birth, he has gone by his middle name. The teacher refuses to call him by his middle name and will only use his first name. She said one of the district-wide grading standards for Kindergarten is that a child must be able to write his/her first and last names. My DS can already do this - he can write all 3 of his names. I asked her if he could show her he can write all 3 of his names, would she please call him by his middle name? She replied that when she tests the class at the end of the first term, if he "passes" the name writing segment, he may then go by his middle name. THIS IS INSANE! Other kids in the class go by nicknames, and they are all minority students. I feel like she's "discraminating" against him because he's in the last unprotected class - white male!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2002 at 9:00AM
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Momma Bird- Why does he go by his middle name? I agree that the teacher should call him by the name that he is used to answering to, but I always wonder why people go by middle names. (Is it to distinguish him from his father, who has the same first name?)

If he can read and write all three names, then it shouldn't be a problem, testing or not! As long as he knows what his "formal" name is for official things, like state tests, then the teacher should just call him by his common name!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2002 at 6:43PM
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Oh, please - this teacher is way off the mark. Definitely go talk to her and tell her that she must call your son by his name. It will be interesting to hear her explanation for her strange behavior. And if she continues with this bizarre refusal to call him by his NAME without a legitimate reason, go speak to her superior. She's a bigot.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2002 at 7:11PM
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Wow, with all of the real problems in education I can't believe that some teachers would add MORE by causing this kind of trouble! Seems to me neither of them knows how to act like adults, let alone teachers! Momma Bird, have you discussed this with the principal? Mister Matthew, I know nothing about the school system in England, but I agree with everyone here about going to talk to someone that can help you solve this problem. Children deserve to be treated like people, they are people!!!! What right does a teacher have to "decide" WHAT to call anyone?? Especially a child in kindergarden!!!!!!!! I'm angry!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2002 at 12:01AM
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DH and I had our quarterly conference with the teacher Tuesday night. We discussed the "name" issue. She said that DS showed her that he can write his full name, so she asked him what he wants to be called. He answered he wants her to call him his FIRST name! I asked DS about it, and he said he likes me to call him his middle name but likes his teacher to call him his first name. ARRGGH! Kids can be so maddening!

April, we call him is middle name because his first name is a family name that is very formal and "old" sounding, even though he is the only living relative with the name. His middle name is younger and really "fits" him better. BTW, his hame is Thompson Chase. Chase just fits him to a "T", he's a very high-energy kid.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2002 at 8:32AM
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I find it horribly degrading to call someone by their last name. I went to an all boys high school and some old witch-secretary in the office kept doing it to me. I complained about it several times, including three times to her face, and she stopped. The assumption that it's OK to call a boy by his first name, but not a girl (never happened at the girl's school) is ludicrous.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2002 at 12:21PM
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Momma- Ahh.. I see. I like the name Chase. :)

It's interesting to note that we all jumped to the conclusion that the teacher was just being obnoxious, when it was actually the child's request to go by his more formal name! :)

    Bookmark   November 16, 2002 at 7:49PM
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I had a similar experience. At back to school night, the parents thought that I did not know their child. It took awhile before they asked the full name, and I discovered she had decided to go by her middle name that year in high school, which was news to them.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2002 at 10:33PM
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My daughter goes by her middle name - when teachers called her by her first name, she simply refused to answer. Then when the teacher got "huffy", my daughter would say "My name is not "x", but it is "z". When you call me "z", I will answer you." It worked.

Now, my granddaughter's teacher called her "Susie" when her name, in fact, is "Sally" - "Susie" is not even her middle name. It is the end of November and the teacher is still doing it on occasion. And it's not like there's another child in the classroom with a similar name - the teacher just doesn't care enough to take the time. And my granddaughter does not have the gumption that my daughter had to stand up for herself.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2002 at 1:59PM
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I'm sorry that you're granddaughter's teacher sometimes calls her the wrong name. I'm a third grade teacher. I sometimes call students the wrong name, too. It's certainly not because I don't care or because I don't take the time to learn the students' names. Even when there aren't other students with the same or similar names in the class, I have taught hundreds of students in the past. I may be confusing their name with another name.

I'm the youngest child in my family of five siblings. My mom frequently called me the wrong name and she's the one who named me!

Teachers are, after all, human and we sometimes make mistakes. I am frequently surprised when I visit this forum that people are reluctant to talk to the teacher when there's a problem. It seems like teachers get a bad rap without just cause. (However, in the case of the original poster, I believe the teacher is erring too much on the side of caution.)

    Bookmark   December 4, 2002 at 4:48PM
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Hi,i would think theres nothing to talk about to a person like that i would take my child out of that school,that person is not fit to be a teacher.it cant be good for your son to have to deal with this person who does not except his name everyday,to make a child question everyday why the name he recieved from his parents is not good enough to be used when talking to him cant be good .

    Bookmark   January 18, 2003 at 8:29AM
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