The Reality of Teaching
Society is different now than it was 50 years ago. Some things are the same that will not change despite steps teachers take to fortify their classrooms. The human experience does not stop with a structured learning environment but expands to all situations where any type of teaching occurs. This includes home, workplace, playground, cafeteria, internet, etc. The reality of education is it happens no matter if who teaches or intentions to teach it or not. This article contains information that public teachers have experienced as modern teachers in Western culture.
My eight-year-old daughter came home to tell my wife and me what she learned in school one day. Relating to my wife what she learned and where she learned it, her mother sent her to me because it was so appalling.
My daughter spoke to me in a matter of fact manner. "Daddy, Mom told me to tell you what happen today. Todd said that the n-word means Black people." (Real name not used)
Not knowing how to respond to her experience, I gave her some platitude. Her mother pursued by reaching out to her teacher in an email suggesting the student receive a talking to and parental notification, which did occur. Several others have complained about the child in question.
My daughter's teacher is now put in the situation where she has to use a very thin line to teach her offending student that using epitaphs to hurt or malign others is unacceptable. Why a thin line. That eight-year-old boy did not come up with that idea to teach to his Black classmate on his own. It could have been taught in his home, in a friends home, by television, by the internet, by an older sibling or kid, a number of possibilities.
To avoid a political nightmare, this teacher has to determine how best to address the situation. If the principal and school board get involved, it can turn into something it should not. The boy and girl are eight-year-olds. Possibly the boy parroted something he learned, which in turn the young girl parroted.
To correct her students to make a learning environment that is conducive for the education of all class members regardless of religious, racial, political, and any other differences, the teacher has to educate her students. Societal strain on teachers to teach basic education to elementary school kids hangs in the cloud of social justices, freedom of religions, political correctness, state standards, national standards, standardized tests, gender sensitivity, family dynamics and much more.
The reality of teaching is no longer about educating kids alone. It is about teaching manners, social skills, fairness, acceptance, tolerance with some math and science sprinkled in if time permits.
Moral Thin Line
Ethics has become the rule in society today. Politicians can scream all day long about religious freedom and morals, but teachers have to teach ethics. Ethics have a reputation for being above a specific moral code or religious preference. Though that is true to an extent, ethics are not set in stone. Situational ethics. Depending on situations and circumstances in situations ethical standards can change.
Teachers must navigate political waters of ethics having the ability to shift with tides of situational circumstances to avoid accusations that they are trying to influence the morals of impressionable children.
One ethical dilemma a teacher experienced involved a student who had to parents of the same gender. The teacher made a comment that everyone has a mother and a father because it takes a man and woman to make a child. The student raised his hand a bit confused and asked about his situation having two mothers.
All students in the classroom were interested in what the teacher would say. The kids wanted to know how to explain two mothers who actively participated in school and interacted with their class since only a man and woman can have a kid. Their son sat in her class, with no father.
The teacher, of course, found an explanation that satisfied the students. She had to be true to science and nature without making her students feel that the boy with two moms was different or strange. That student was not responsible for his parents life-partner decisions.
The teacher was able to make an ethical decision to let her students know that it was normal to have parents or a parent. She then informed them that men and women give things to help babies grow inside of the woman. Sometimes the man and the woman are together, sometimes the woman is alone, sometimes there are two men or two women, and sometimes the man is alone. Luckily, she did not have to elaborate. The students accept the information she gave so that she could move on the lesson without any child feeling abnormal that day.
The teacher did not agree with the life choices of her student's parents. She was expected to go against her moral compass and facilitate learning for her class without inserting her morals, which she did.
The reality of teaching today involves self-suppression as it always has but to a greater extent than in the past. As society shifts what is acceptable to new definitions, in the US, even the majority shifts how it defines normal.
Getting a degree to teach children is not all it takes to qualify for being a good teacher. Having a passion for teaching is a good start, of course, but there must be more. Teachers are counselors. Whether society wants to admit it or not, teachers are parental figures to their students who are a diverse population in culture and personality. Even in areas where most of the students share the same culture and racial heritage, teachers have to understand personality disorders and student integration techniques. Teachers are asked to do and be so much more than what their colleagues of the past were asked with fewer options.
© 2018 Rodric Anthony