Monday, May 7, 2007


The Washington Post has an article about a student teacher fired (and not given her degree) because of her MySpace page -- she had a picture labeled "drunk pirate" and was told it was inappropriate for a teacher to publish. The Post listed in their "Offbeat" news section, which ignores how this sort of regulation of a teacher's private life is becoming more common. The rumor in my Atlanta school district was that a DUI would get you fired, for instance. While many agree that this is absurd, others do not. One comment to the Post article suggests that teachers should be held to higher standards, for instance. This, too, is an example of further incursions of the workplace into the homelife of workers in my opinion.

Why do I take issue with this response? I think children can separate the difference between an adult and a child. For instance, their parents say, "don't say *&%!" but occassionally (or frequently) do it themselves. They say, you can't drink until you're 21 when they began drinking at 18. Don't do drugs and ignore the fact that I did (or do). And so forth. In other words, it's important for kids to learn that adults have lives that are separate from their own and that in those lives adults can make their own decisions. Regardless of whether those decisions are considered wise by anyone...including the adult.

Now, does that apply for instance to nude photographs? I think it should. While it is uncomfortable to think of teenage boys doing what they do with their naked teacher on the screen -- or remembering that moment while they are in class -- there are two separate issues involved. First, access. The teacher does not intend that underage students should have access to those pictures (and should make efforts to insure that they are not generally available), thus isn't really at fault here. (Gasp, perhaps the parents should talk to their children about what they see as appropriate and inappropriate.) Second, the teacher has a choice of whether she wants her students to think that way should they come across them. If she can deal with it -- and has placed the pictures on either an art website or one that under 18 should not have access to, she has done all that is required.

We need to stop treating children like fragile creatures who cannot be exposed to anything that is not deemed "appropriate".

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