Teachers need to please keep their pro-gun, pro-choice, Evangelical, Atheist, Vegan lifestyle opinions at home and leave those things up to parents. After years of watching from the sidelines as people argued over what should and shouldn’t be taught in school, I have a new appreciation for the frustration of thousands of parents with what is taught in school. School is where I send my kids to learn and process information. Math, Science, History, Reading; all areas that are valuable and for which I may not have the skill or knowledge to teach at an appropriate level. But as both of my children are now enrolled in school, I’m becoming all too aware of how often the personal opinions of teachers make it home to effect the world we’re creating as a family. And I don’t like it.
Now lets clarify. I’m not talking about topics that parents try to avoid discussing with their children like sex. I’m talking about topics where the teacher through the teaching of a topic, uses the platform to inject their own opinion. A lesson on government and politics leads to a political rant about the current administration. Or a lesson on STD’s leads to a teacher handing out condoms. There are points where the conversation at school can and should end before proceeding with injecting personal opinion into impressionable minds. I’m okay with teachers planting the seed for conversation and questions at home; “Dad are we democrat or republican?” or “What do you think about gay marriage?”. In my mind if a teacher is doing a good job, a child should be challenged to continue thinking and have those conversations with their parents. But the difference comes when planting the seed comes with an opinion that an evolving mind soaks up like a sponge.
This whole topic came up this week as my wife informed me that our boys were giving her dietary advice while she was making dinner. While my wife and I have been trying for some time to work in healthier options for two picky eaters, we don’t necessarily need those same picky eaters to now go on a hunger strike for only the foods they deem safe based on their teachers lesson plans. If they only realized that the same system they used to eliminate our dinner roast from their dietary consumption also results in the cookie jar being emptied into the trash. If it was an innocent conversation revolving around basic nutrition, I’d be okay. But I’m also aware of other parents and teachers who are more adamant about having their personal views taught at school “for the benefit of all”. No processed sugars, no soda, no video games, no potato chips, etc. etc.. While I appreciate the sentiment, the matter remains that those discussions and decisions are mine to have with my children. Because after all, there are varying levels with which many things are acceptable. Are they going to explain that not all alcohol is bad? That there are studies that not only show that wine is good for you, but also has characteristics for longevity? What about the studies that show that vegan diets cause cancer? Where does the paleo diet fit in when you’re teaching vegetarianism?
I understand that part of the problem has been the failing of parents to take responsibility for the personal development of their students. Teachers see fat, lazy students who drink too much soda, don’t get enough exercise, and don’t care about anything going on in the world. People who become teachers do so to help mold young minds and impact lives. They want to reach out and improve the life of a student whose parents may have no interest in developing a healthy adult mind. But I would also say the best way to do so is in teaching those same children to think for themselves. To know how to ask questions, not regurgitate answers. And if they truly wish to change that life, actively engage the parents. I’d much rather have a note sent home or a phone call saying “Dear Ms & Mrs Smith, your student has asked several questions in class related to ___________. While we encourage your child’s personal growth, we feel that this topic would best be reviewed with you as parents.”
Teachers are heroes. My children love their teachers and I’m glad they absorb everything they say. And I don’t want to tell my children not to listen to something their teacher says or what the teacher says is wrong. It’s better for everyone if the lifestyle choices and personal opinions stayed home.