We’re all entitled to a private life. Ideally no one with whom we’re connected professionally should even care what we do in our free time. Yet, the rules seem to be different for some people, among them, teachers.
A year ago or so I heard about a case in which a teacher was discovered to have acted in a porn movie in her youth. When the saucy details of her past resurfaced she got dismissed. I felt that it was really unjust. Maybe she made a mistake as a young girl who desperately needed money, maybe it was an experience she was proud of, the fact remains that her performing of a sexual act in front of the camera (and I’m sure the dads enjoyed watching the spanking) had absolutely nothing to do with whether she was good or not at her job. I remember parents comments saying that she should be setting an example and it’s true for her behavior at school but I’m not convinced by the argument. Children wouldn’t see her setting a bad example as they wouldn’t watch porn. It’s the parents prudishness that was offended and nothing else.
With the development of internet dating services meeting someone has become easier for many of us. The users differ in age so a teacher can’t really feel safe on the web. A student making fun of a single teacher looking for LOVE and showing pictures to their friends is a possibility. Even worse if a teacher is caught on some sort of service making it possible to meet up with someone and have sex with no strings attached. Using a pseudonym is a way to avoid unpleasant repercussions but students can be very resourceful when it comes to stalking their teachers. Of course there are also teachers being silly and inattentive. I remember the story of a teacher who posted a picture of the class she was teaching as one as her Tinder pictures. That story ended benign with no involvement from the school but the teacher herself deleted the profile.
Last but not least, let’s have a look at the case when a teacher is “inappropriate” in the classroom. Private views are sometimes difficult to hide discovered just six days ago a teacher in a middle school in Michigan. Allison Wint was describing the meaning of paintings to her art students and used the word “vagina” to explain what a flower symbolized. To her surprise she was dismissed for discussing reproductive life without former consent of the higher school authorities. The woman explained that she doesn’t think works of arts should be censored and it was her “libertarian” attitude that got her fired. I find it ridiculous, but it raises an important question. Can a teacher share his or her views with students at all? More importantly can it be avoided and if not should it be punished? What happens if a teacher is an family planning supporter? What if he or she is an atheist? During a literature discussion it’s easy to disclose views on such issues. Can sharing by a person of authority be considered trying to influence the young minds? Or is it just exposing to to ideas possibly different to that of their parents?
I don’t know the answers to all the questions asked but I know that firing people without a possibility to amend or defend their actions is unfair and definitely doesn’t set a good example. Teachers should strive to keep their private and public lives as separate as possible as the guardians of morality are always ready to judge and punish.
What do you think, Dear Rinsers? Can a teacher be a porn star? A prostitute? Is it just to dismiss in the described cases? Don’t be shy, share your views.