Okay actually, Frazz…

Cidu Bill on Nov 13th 2017

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You can stop encouraging his pain-in-the-ass disruptions of Mrs. Olsen’s class. Yes, we get that you and Caulfield both thinl you’re smarter than Mrs. Olsen.

(And it’s unfortunate that Mrs. Olsen doesn’t seem to be able to control her classroom)

I was Caulfield when I was that age — and if I had one of the school’s adult authority figures goading me on, I’m pretty certain Mrs. DeBeech would have had no choice but to have me killed.

Filed in Bill Bickel, Frazz, Jef Mallett, comic strips, comics, humor | 24 responses so far

24 Responses to “Okay actually, Frazz…”

  1. James Pollock Nov 13th 2017 at 11:50 am 1

    I think you missed the point.
    Caulfield is disruptive in class because it amuses him.
    It amuses him (in large part) because Mrs. Olsen wildly overreacts.
    Therefore, it isn’t Frazz that’s encouraging him to act up, it’s Mrs. Olsen.

    Frazz isn’t really encouraging Caulfield to be disruptive. He encourages Caulfield to be himself, and most of the time he’s suggesting that maybe this can be done without needlessly antagonizing her.

  2. Cidu Bill Nov 13th 2017 at 12:33 pm 2

    James, I did assign part of the blame to Mrs. Olsen.

    But not only do I consider Frazz to be encouraging him, but what Mrs. Olsen asked Frazz to do (and which Frazz insisted he could not) was DIScourage him. Which yes, Frazz could do if he didn’t prefer to feel he and Caulfield are part of the Smarter Than Mrs. Olsen Club.

    You can “be yourself” without being a disruption: that’s something adults teach children. I learned this without becoming any less “me.”

  3. Ron Nov 13th 2017 at 04:40 pm 3

    Frazz is the janitor. Since when is it the janitor’s responsibility
    to straighten out the students?

  4. Winter Wallaby Nov 13th 2017 at 04:52 pm 4

    Ron #3: In any organization, it’s nice to help out when you can, even if it’s not your “responsibility.” And even if you’re the janitor, maybe you have a responsibility not to encourage the students to be jerks.

  5. Kamino Neko Nov 13th 2017 at 05:03 pm 5

    Any adult who acts as a mentor for a kid (as Frazz does for Caulfield - and the other kids, but especially Caulfield) has a responsibility to encourage good behaviour.

  6. Carl Nov 13th 2017 at 05:33 pm 6

    It was made clear a few years ago that the adults are in a half-hearted unspoken conspiracy to encourage Caulfield, though.

  7. James Pollock Nov 13th 2017 at 06:21 pm 7

    ” I consider Frazz to be encouraging him, but what Mrs. Olsen asked Frazz to do (and which Frazz insisted he could not) was DIScourage him. Which yes, Frazz could do”

    Frazz routinely and repeatedly counsels Caulfield to not antagonize Mrs. Olsen. This demonstrably does not work. Now, this is partly because of the restrictions of the medium; there isn’t room for much character development in 3 or 4 panels. Caulfield and co. do not age, so there isn’t much in the way of larger character arcs, either.

    “You can ‘be yourself’ without being a disruption”
    Not if what you are is disruptive.
    Public schools, and everything about them, are designed to serve the big part of the bell curve. People who are at either end tend to be poorly served. Caulfield’s problems in the school, such as they are, don’t come from the fact that he thinks he’s smarter than Mrs. Olsen (more on that coming up), but the fact that he is, objectively, smarter… a LOT smarter… than his peer group. Consider the viewpoint from the old Pink Floyd song “The Wall”… the purpose of mandatory education is to scrub all traces of originality, creativity, and non-conformity off the children before allowing them to join society). There’s a reason this viewpoint is popular amongst original, creative, non-conforming kids (of all ages)… it resonates with their experiences and memories.
    It takes time and considerable effort to learn how to remain original and non-conformist WITHOUT causing disruption to those who are not, either because they never were or because the schools have already successfully scrubbed any hints of these traits away. It’s not (and never has been) as simple as having a trusted/respected adult say “hey… don’t do that.” Caulfield WILL learn to be himself without being disruptive; it’s going to take long enough that Mrs. Olsen is very unlikely to see this result, much less enjoy it.
    And, contrary to your assumption, my assumption is that if Frazz were to more forcefully command Caulfield to change, Caulfield would immediately tune Frazz out. My reading is that Frazz believes he is already doing all he can to moderate the natural force that is Caulfield… attempting to cause Caulfield to change faster would have the effect of losing the slight moderating factor he IS having, thus making the problem worse.

    I raised a disruptive child. Some of the teachers she had along the way handled it better than some of the other teachers she had along the way. Her “Frazz” wasn’t the janitor, he was the fifth-grade teacher who cast a HUGE shadow of influence over the children (including mine), whether they were in his class or not.

    This is based on the Frazz of the first three collected volumes of Frazz strips, because I don’t get the daily. It wasn’t in the local paper when the local paper was my principal source of daily comics. I don’t think Caulfield thinks he’s smarter than Mrs. Olsen… I think he acts like the disruptive antics are part of a game, and games are only fun when both sides are roughly equal. Going meta, I think the conflict is between Frazz (who understands and respects the children) and Mrs. Olsen, who needs something from them.

  8. B.A. Nov 13th 2017 at 06:24 pm 8

    This has been bothering me for a while, and Frazz is close to being dropped from my mandatory daily reading list.
    Are we supposed to be rooting for this conspiracy? It’s one thing to take down somebody who deserves it, but here they’re just being… well, insert words that Bill probably won’t allow.

  9. B.A. Nov 13th 2017 at 06:34 pm 9

    Really? I got sent to +×÷=% moderation anyway??

    James, “if what you are is disruptive”, to the extent that you’re depriving your classmates of the opportunity to learn, you either can or you can’t control youself. If you can, then you should and anybody in the position to encourage or help you control yourself should. If you can’t control yourself, then you have a problem that might require professional help. My first step as principal, though, would be to move him to a different class: That might be the simplest solution.

  10. James Pollock Nov 13th 2017 at 06:43 pm 10

    “If you can, then you should and anybody in the position to encourage or help you control yourself should.”

    Duh.
    And, for the third time, Frazz routinely and repeatedly suggests to Caulfield that he should not be intentionally antagonizing Mrs. Olsen. What he is saying here in THIS strip is that while he does have some influence over Caulfield, he cannot fundamentally change who and what Caulfield is.

    “My first step as principal, though, would be to move him to a different class”
    Which means that A) Caulfield is now in the class of a teacher even less able to contend with him, and B) now he has to work harder to antagonize Mrs. Olsen. It seems likely to me that he’d consider this an additional challenge rather than a preventative.
    “That might be the simplest solution.”
    Does “simple” mean “it wouldn’t work” in this sentencee? If so, I agree, it’s a simple solution.
    There is only one solution… passage of time. Lots of time.

  11. Winter Wallaby Nov 13th 2017 at 06:50 pm 11

    B.A. #8: I’m not sure about the specifics of this “half-hearted unspoken conspiracy,” but yeah, I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to root for Caufield, not think “ugh, what a little *&!*”

  12. B.A. Nov 13th 2017 at 07:11 pm 12

    James, if Caulfield is unable to resist being, as Winter put it, “a little *&!*” in Mrs. Olsen’s class, why do you believe moving him to a different class wouldn’t work? It’s certainly worth a shot before drugging him with Adderall. And yes, that is a popular suggestion for kids who can’t help being disruptive.

    Simply “letting Caulfield be himself” isn’t in anybody’s best interest.

  13. Ron Nov 13th 2017 at 07:24 pm 13

    Moving Caulfield to a different class is exactly what both he and
    Mrs. Olsen need. Caulfield needs an advanced class that challenges
    him rather than a boring class where he can cover all the material
    for himself in a week. Caulfield would find no need for games to
    fight off boredom in an appropriate class.

  14. Cidu Bill Nov 13th 2017 at 07:35 pm 14

    And maybe he simply needs a teacher who deals with his sh-t in a different way.

    Once during my run as a substitute teacher, I was given a class that had literally made the previous day’s sub cry. And I’m not saying I did anything brilliant: their regular teacher presumably handled them just fine. But my approach was different from the other sub’s, and that just happened to be what was called for.

  15. Ron Nov 13th 2017 at 07:36 pm 15

    I also disagree with the premise that Caulfield is a disruptive
    student. If you think so, I believe your threshold for disruptive
    is unduly low. He annoys Mrs. Olsen, but he does not actually
    interfere in the classroom or stop the schoolwork from being
    presented. I’ve seen disruptive students, and this isn’t one of
    them.

  16. Cidu Bill Nov 13th 2017 at 07:48 pm 16

    Ron, there are levels of “disruptive,” no? You have kids like Caulfield who interrupt the teacher’s lessons for no purpose other than their own amusement, and you have kids who set fire to desks and their fellow students.

  17. B.A. Nov 13th 2017 at 07:48 pm 17

    When I was in second or third grade, there was a boy who kept trying to look up girls’ skirts anddresses (in the rare cases where girls wore skirts and dresses). Rather than deciding it would eventually blow over, or that this was simply his nature, he was told that this was unacceptable behavior.

    Unfortunately, he grew up to be president.

  18. Seth Nov 13th 2017 at 08:08 pm 18

    I recall there is a teacher in this strip who can handle Caulfield - ah “Mr. Uhrmann”, a substitute teacher. I remember a few strips where that teacher is shown verbally vollying with Caulfield, and seemed to enjoy it. So it’s definitely possible to see Frazz and the right teacher getting along with mutual respect.

  19. Seth Nov 13th 2017 at 08:11 pm 19

    Oops. I meant *Caulfield* and the right teacher. Though I suppose that applies to Frazz, too.

  20. Cidu Bill Nov 13th 2017 at 08:47 pm 20

    The weird thing is, Frazz does seem to respect Mrs. Olsen now, and has told the children on a few occasions that when they get older they’ll understand — which makes this nonsense with Caulfield a bit inconsistent.

  21. James Pollock Nov 13th 2017 at 10:12 pm 21

    “why do you believe moving him to a different class wouldn’t work?”

    Well, for the two reasons I gave before. First, because changing his surroundings won’t change who and what he is. Second, because antagonizing Mrs. Olsen amuses him, and likely would continue to do so even if he has reduced access (He’ll just have to first build a ruse to get out of his own classroom, so he can go be in hers. Does anything in the history of the character suggest he’s not up to that challenge?)

    As I said, what WILL work is the passage of time. The schoolwork will change, and is more likely to challenge his capabilities; his interests will change, as new things capture his attention; his desire to fit in will (likely) increase as he learns the value of fitting in. Given enough time, he’ll reach a point where his respect for Mrs. Olsen increases to the point of avoiding needlessly wasting her time. But, that isn’t a “next week” passage of time, that’s a “years and years” passage of time. Hence the second half of Frazz’ advice: Enjoy what can be enjoyed, and endure what must be endured.

    “And maybe he simply needs a teacher who deals with his sh-t in a different way.”
    Go back to those early strips, and you find that by the time he’s reached Mrs. Olsen’s class, he’s already “famous” in faculty-room discussions, presumably reflecting the experiences of the other teachers he’s had previously.

    I was the bad parts of Caulfield without the good parts… I was fast… I could read very fast, and I did math very fast, so I didn’t need much classtime to finish all the work. So I’d get the assignment, work through and finish it, and then look up for something else to do. This is disruptive to all the children who are still working, and still need help to master the lesson. The first attempt to solve this problem involved giving me more work to do, to keep me busy through the end of the time alotted for the lesson. This was not the right approach. The reward for completing my assignment is more work? That feels like punishment, and so instead of finishing quickly and becoming disruptive, I would instead skip the work, and become disruptive. I went through several years of elementary school like that. They finally hit upon a solution that really worked… give the assignment, set aside class time to do the assignment, and anybody who is finished with the assignment can go down to the library or to recess early. I got that in sixth grade, and then, of course, left elementary school for junior-high school, and a whole new dynamic.

    Caulfield is in Mrs. Olsen’s class because she is best-equipped to handle him.

  22. fuzzmaster Nov 14th 2017 at 05:30 pm 22

    I was the kid at the high end of the bell curve. It didn’t take a long time or any particular effort to understand being polite and respecting others. Caulfield’s a jerk in the classroom, always determined to be the center of attention, constantly trying to pull Mrs. Olsen away from the lessons that the rest of the class needs.

    Using “I’m smarter than the average bear” as an excuse to act up is no better than using “I don’t understand” or “I don’t think this is important.” We’ve seen no sign that Mrs. Olsen is trying to turn her students, Caulfield in particular, into soul-crushed robots. She’s trying to teach; he’s trying to distract her.

    You’re bored? Fine. Ask for more challenging work. Offer explanations when other kids are stumped. Daydream. But don’t turn every class into the Caulfield Show.

    That’s the lesson Frazz should be imparting: It’s not all about you. Show some respect to your classmates by letting them learn.

    That’s not squelching his creativity or individuality. It’s teaching him that the world doesn’t revolve around Caulfield.

  23. Cidu Bill Nov 14th 2017 at 05:44 pm 23

    It’s always been my strong belief that bullying somebody because you’re smarter is no more noble than bullying somebody because you’re stronger.

  24. zbicyclist Nov 14th 2017 at 08:59 pm 24

    Frazz has been running since 2001, over 16 years.

    He desperately needs a new character. The strips are getting both repetitive and increasingly obscure.

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