Thompson: Teachers Should Model Democracy
I was going back and forth, agreeing with whoever spoke last, while listening to NPR Talk of the Nation's "Should Teachers Be Disciplined for Online Lives?," when law professor Johnatan Turley made two points that placed the debate in a larger context. Turley had argued that teachers do not sign up for "a fishbowl existence," and he condemned the chilling effect that occurs when you punish them for opinions expressed on Facebook. Education professor Elizabeth Meyer had countered that teachers must be role models and that students cannot distinguish between the private lives of teachers and their public role. Callers added good points for both sides of the argument. But then, a light went on as Turley spoke the hard truth that, frankly, the purpose is intimidating teachers. As with so many other current educational "reform" controversies, the bigger issue is teacher-bashing. And that leads to Turley's most important point. Educators are being lousy role models when we do not stand up for our rights. We are showing "students how you need to be furtive." The worst part about the chilling effect is that "we're reinforcing it not just with the teachers but with the students." The same is true about teachers conforming to standardized testing, teaching only what is on our aligned and paced curriculum, and giving up our due process rights. We are not modeling the strengths needed to be citizens of a democracy, but we are instead teaching kids to cower and conform.- JT (@drjohnthompson)image via.