The English Teacher

June 9, 2008, 6:40 pm
Filed under: Reflection

According to this article, there have been several accounts of teachers who were suspended or removed from their positions due to the contents of their websites, including the popular social networking site, Facebook. 

I understand that teachers are considered role models, regardless of whether or not they want to be one, but is it really fair to judge them for behavior that takes place outside of the classroom and has no adverse effects on their teaching practices?

As an educator who keeps an online journal, I have to wonder if it is fair for an teacher to be fired because s/he has a life outside of the classroom.  Obviously, if I post pictures of myself consuming illegal substances or partaking in illegal activities, then I should expect consequences.  However, if a teacher, who is over 21, is shown drinking, maybe even to excess, or if s/he posts risque pictures, is it fair to penalize him/her for behavior that is fairly normal for young adults?  According to one of the teachers interviewed, “my work and social lives are completely separate. I just feel they shouldn’t take it seriously. I am young. I just turned 22.”  However, a spokesman for the school district commented that, as public servants, teachers are held to public scrutiny.

While I agree with both, I also believe that if a person is placed on a pedestal, it’s difficult to maintain balance and he/she must inevitably fall, especially if the teacher is only be a few years older than the students in his/her classroom.  Considering the large numbers of retirees, most of the teachers now are young adults in their 20’s who have just left school themselves.

We all make mistakes.  Some of us are fortunate enough to make these mistakes in private, while others are foolish enough to post them online for the world to see.  Regardless, being young and foolish are not reasons enough to suspend or fire someone because someone is offended by a picture or a comment.  Honestly, in this day and age is there anything that doesn’t offend anybody?


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