Saturday, May 26, 2007

Responsibilities of being a School Teacher

School teachers hold a sacred responsibility. Much in the same way that medical professionals (nurses and doctors) do.

When my child is placed in that class room for at least an hour per day with an adult of authority (teacher), then I have every right to expect and in fact insist/demand that this person abide by certain rules and societal norms.

The recent move towards society insisting upon measurable results and accountability is an attempt to move in the right direction. In the long run this also has to be accompanied by a significant increase in wages to those teachers who achieve good results in teaching their specific discipline. Whether it is the English language, reading, math, history, etc.

Teaching children English has always been important in the U.S.A. because we are a country of immigrants. A fairly small percentage of Americans arrived in our country being able to speak a dialect of English, the Irish, the British, and the Scottish. But the vast majority of the people who built America did not speak English when they immigrated. This includes the Dutch, Germans, Chinese, Polish, and the Mexicans.

Having lived almost 20 years of my life abroad I can state with absolute personal certainty: If one does not have virtual native fluency in the primary language of a country, then one will remain stuck in a lower class status. No question about it. This is true in France, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and China. Being able to communicate verbally is essential to almost all parts of functioning in a society.

So high levels of competency in English language oral conversation must be at the top of the list of requirements for any student to leave school and enter society, either as a worker or as a stay home parent. Being able to function on paper is important, but much less so. Hopefully our schools will enable their graduates to both read and write, at least to some minimal level.

In addition to being skilful at teaching their particular subject matter, teachers have the ability to mould the plastic minds of their students. They are viewed as role models and have large amounts of sway over how our children behave, and what our children think.

In most jobs there are certain norms and standards that have to be adhered to. And also in most jobs there is a dress code, whether it is written or not.

My career was in food processing. If one is going to work in a food factory then it is clear-cut that one must wear a hairnet that covers all of one’s hair (to prevent it from falling in the food). The workers cannot wear earrings or other jewellery, and in most cases they may not wear nail polish.

A policeman on duty is normally expected to dress in a certain fashion, and the same with a soldier, or a priest giving mass. Airline pilots, stewardesses, workers at Wal-Mart, highway road workers, and CEOs of large companies all have dress codes. If one is going to accept work and be successful as a waitress at Hooters, then one must dress appropriately.

There is a almost always an unwritten contract between the worker and the company. The company aggress to pay the person (i.e., the pay check will clear the bank) including following the appropriate laws for minimum wage, overtime, child labor, health and safety, etc. The employee agrees to accept the authority of his/her supervisor, and abide by the norms of that particular profession.

Some jobs have extra high levels of societal responsibility, and so more is expected of the these workers. Examples are medical doctors, airline pilots, over the road bus drivers, operators in nuclear reactor facilities, and school teachers.

So for example, if a school teacher has sex with one of his or her students, even if this student is a promiscuous and horny 18 year old slut, it is simply not acceptable to society and cannot be tolerated.

Equally teachers may not intentionally impart to their students their own odd-ball ideas on philosophy or religion.

In the American culture it is not a part of the norm or considered acceptable to forbid women to drive or become educated due to one’s religion. Female circumcision is considered inappropriate, and it is not acceptable for a father or brother to kill a young woman because she dishonoured the family by having premarital sex.

If outside the classroom the teacher wants to be a homosexual neo-nazi who denies that the holocaust took place in WWII and lives naked in a nudist colony, that might be tolerated. As long as the teacher never influences his students to move in these directions by letting the students become aware of his/her personal lifestyle.

It would be completely inappropriate for the teacher to come to work each day dressed as a Ku Klux clansman, or totally naked, or dressed as a WWII nazi officer.

If the teacher is a man it would not be acceptable to wear to work the same Speedo bathing suit which is entirely appropriate for him to wear after work at the swimming pool. Equally, if the teacher is female it would not be acceptable for her to normally wear to work teeny, tiny, micro miniskirts without panties (accidentally giving the students occasional beaver shots) and extremely low cut, see through blouses with no bra on underneath.
Dressing this way may well be entirely appropriate in certain circumstances, but not at work when one is employed in the sacred profession of educating society’s most precious resource.

So liberal Western society clearly does indeed impose various limitations and dress codes on workers. And this is both constitutional and acceptable to the voters in these democracies. The only question then becomes where do we draw the line?

In France and other places in Europe where society is vastly more tolerant, secular, and liberal than in America, the majority of voters have now come to the conclusion that it is not appropriate for school teachers to wear any overtly religious symbols. In fact this is now the law of the land in some parts of western Europe.

Religious freedom and separation of church and state are fairly basic to the norms in America. So if a teacher wants to be a member of some radical religious cult, or a devout member of the Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddist, Shinto, or Moslem faith outside of work, that is normally their right.

But wearing overtly religious symbols to work must not be accepted. This includes female teachers wearing Muslim dress, such as the veil or the head scarf. Sorry, but this behavior is well beyond the line of acceptability.

A woman cannot work in a jewish temple wearing a muslim veil, or in a muslim mosque dressing the same way that a waitress would working at Hooters. It does not fit in with the cultural norms at the workplace environment and is completely inappropriate.

If a woman feels that she has to dress in a religious manner to fulfil the tenants of her faith, then she cannot in good conscience either accept a job as a waitress at Hooters or as a school teacher in America.