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Teachers Calm Students With 'Prescription' Mints

By sandymaple |

pill-bottle-sm250In an effort to calm the nerves of their fourth grade students prior to taking an important test, two teachers at Westchase Elementary in Tampa, Florida reached for the bottle.  The pill bottle, that is. 

The teachers, who have not been officially identified, distributed prescription medicine bottles filled with mints to their students as they prepared to take the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test last week.  The drug bottles were made more realistic with labels that read in part:  “Watson’s Whiz Kid Pharmacy. Take 1 tablet by mouth EVERY 5 MINUTES to cure FCAT jitters. Repeated use may cause craft to spontaneously ooze from pores. No refills. Ms. Falcon’s authorization required.”

The teachers’ unusual calming tactic was discovered by Sandy Young, who was greeted with the sight of a pill bottle on each student’s desk when she visited her grandson’s classroom.  The teacher assured her that the pills were fake and just a lighthearted attempt at reducing the stress of the test-taking students.

Young was shocked that a teacher would encourage students to take pills to calm their nerves.  She complained to the principal, who later met with students to determine that the bottles were, in fact, filled with mints and not drugs.  The students were then told to dump the mints and the bottles were trashed.

Linda Cobbe, a school district spokesperson, said the teachers got the pill bottle idea from a children’s book the students had recently read.  “George’s Marvelous Machine” features a boy who creates potions in an attempt to improve his cantankerous grandmother’s disposition.

The district is sticking up for the teachers and Cobbe says they will not be disciplined as they didn’t intend to promote drug use.  Still, grandmother Sandy Young is concerned about the mixed message this little attempt at pharmaceutical humor may have on impressionable children.

While what the teachers did may not be a firing offense, I agree that it was profoundly stupid. Not only does this potentially confuse children about what might be in a pill bottle, it also sends a message that drugs are an appropriate way of dealing with stress.

Image: Charles Williams/Flickr

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15 thoughts on “Teachers Calm Students With 'Prescription' Mints

  1. Anonimon says:

    In this country it is perfectly acceptable to give children real drugs to calm them down in the form of Ritalin. I think the teacher was terribly creative. With all the pressure that is put on students and teachers in regard to these tests, whatever works.

  2. Larissa says:

    Did the kids know it was mints or did the kids think it was candy? If the kids were aware of the tactic, then they were learning about behavioral triggers and self soothing and the placebo affect, these seem like good things to learn about.

  3. Lisa says:

    The question is were the children involved in the production of these little bottles as an activity or were they simply given to them.

    Oh and I suspect that this violated the testing guidelines… generally, no food, candy or drink are allowed.

  4. Diane says:

    I think it would be very clever to discuss various ways to calm nerves before a big test. Even brainstorming with the kids various ways to mix up “thinking potions.” But involving the kids, and maybe even the parents, in the creative process would be pretty important I think. Putting the mints in pill bottles wasn’t the best way to go here.

  5. Giant Panda says:

    Good Grief – I would have given the teachers extra points for creativity and caring about their class! They had been reading about medicines, and they wanted to give the kids some encouragement before their big test. I think grandma overreacted.

  6. LolaLane says:

    If the kids can read, clearly they were in on the joke too. Over-reaction Grandma! (ugh! sounds like something my mother would over-react to)

  7. Dianne says:

    How many kids did worse after taking little balls of sugar every 5 minutes during the test. This was a terrible idea, not to mention making it seem as though we all need SOMETHING to calm us down. Sorry, nerves are a part of life. Don’t suggest a prescription for something so normal.

  8. Dana says:

    As a mother of four; this is a horrible idea, its just planting seeds that taking percription drugs will help you through tough times. This was oviously not thought through. Im sure the teachers hearts were in the right place. Might as well given them candy cigs instead. I hope we woudnt want candy ever associated with percription drugs!!!

  9. futureteacher says:

    I am tickeled and horrified by this all at the same time. Was it creative, yes, and kudos for creativity! Was it wrong and misguided, yes! While amusing as it would be for upper-level highschoolers who could understand the silliness of it, it can be very confusing for younger students. If the teachers wanted to teach stress coping methods why didn’t they teach some kind of breathing technique? This promotes the use of pharmacuticals, and it promotes the idea of a quick fix. It does not promote the idea of self soothing, or learning non-toxic coping methods. Another great idea for stress releif would be to not place such a great deal of importance on these tests. I understand why they are stressed to faculty, but the students shouldn’t have the stress piled upon them.

  10. Rick says:

    God forbid a Eagle Scout has a TINY pocket knife in his car OUTSIDE the school in the parking lot or a youngster has a miniature toy gun innocently brought in for show and tell? They are shot and quartered, branded sometimes for life, but it’s OK for a teacher to PUSH drugs, fake or otherwise? Think about it. We seem to have a double standard here. Can you say Zero Tolerance…

  11. [...] Teachers Calm Students With ‘Prescription’ Mints [...]

  12. [...] Teachers Calm Students With ‘Prescription’ Mints [...]

  13. Rebecca says:

    This is a hilarious idea, and creative. It was just supposed to be a funny thing for the kids. I remember taking the FCAT and how stressful it is. Many of the teachers tried to do something to help the kids de-stress before or after the test, often involving handing out/playing contests for candy. Never anything this creative though.

  14. Nicole says:

    The idea that a teacher providing a direct mimic of something that the class had read together causing an uproar is ridiculous. The only humor to be found in this story is that the child from the book did it for his ‘cantankerous’ grandmother and this story was fueled by another cantankerous grandmother.

  15. drumeister says:

    Old bitty grandmother Sandy Young probably takes 7 different kinds of meds herself. It’s nice to see teachers being creative and actually taking steps to help their students.

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