I taught poetry writing workshops for five years (between 2006 and 2011) at the Highland Park High School Literary Festival and found the students delightfully attentive and polite. Of hundreds that were in my workshop over the years, only four smirking boys, altogether on the back row of a certain class, were inclined to be disrespectful but did not become disruptive.
I attribute the behavior Jamie Ford suffered at the recent festival to the influence of our current president. He has publicly modeled deplorable manners, disrespecting those who disagree with him and deriding those he calls “losers in life.” It is unfortunate for all of us that the president’s behavior gives permission.
To counter this influence parents and teachers must let the young in their care know that our president’s behavior is often unacceptable and is not to be imitated. Failure to do this is tantamount to condoning it.