Would you do something? Can I?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by peachacid, Jan 21, 2009.

  1. peachacid

    peachacid Companion

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    Jan 21, 2009

    The woman who shares my office talks about religion to the students a lot...and just now responded to a student who asked whether it really says gay people are going to hell in the Bible that the Bible says "Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve." I told the student that some people think that because of their interpretation of the Bible's words.

    This is in a reading specialist office; I am the reading specialist, the other teacher is a floating technology teacher. I will be leaving in a week; she has tenure. Should I report her? Can I? How do I? This is a public high school and this is not the first time she has expressed her religious beliefs to the students.
     
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  3. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    As for how, I would imagine the answer would be to tell the principal. I don't know how you wouldn't have the capacity to report a violation of the law. As for whether -- well, it depends. To a certain extent you have vulnerability in case you want to be invited back to teach again.

    Technically, you should not have said that to the student (though on a practical level, I don't blame you for doing so), either.
     
  4. peachacid

    peachacid Companion

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    Jan 21, 2009

    But what I said was objective, no?
     
  5. adventuresofJ

    adventuresofJ Comrade

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    That would be a hostile work environment for me... just to have to listen to it...
     
  6. HMM

    HMM Cohort

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    That doesn't really matter. If a student asks you a question regarding religion you should probably just tell them to ask their parents.

    People can get really p'd off if you tell their child something about religion that doesn't jive with what they believe (objective or not).
     
  7. deazy86

    deazy86 Rookie

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    It depends how sensitive you are to your work environment, it is a tough call.
     
  8. ChangeAgent

    ChangeAgent Comrade

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    peachacid, I'd say your response was appropriate. You were not preaching or even sharing a personal belief. You stated facts about different religions and denominations. I would have said something similar, and not let the other professional have had that final word, especially phrased like that. That statement, to me, would have made the environment in the classroom uncomfortable for students who may identify as LGBTQ or know a family member or friend who is LGBTQ. I don't know what grade you teach, but that is really irrelevant to the comment.
     
  9. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    I disagree. I am diligent about not discriminating against students base don religions or lack thereof, but I don't have a problem explaining "some people believe..." if they have a direct question. The issue would be 1st amendment rights and you are neither establishing a set religion or keeping a student from their beliefs by explaining what another group of people might believe.
     
  10. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Oh, and I work with 2 women like this and it is terrible. They were placed together with another teacher to proctor the state test, and they led the students in prayer before the test started, and a very Christian prayer at that. They were reported by the other teacher in the room and I think just asked not to do that again.

    At a memorial service for 2 students during my first year teaching, one of them gave a sermon and basically said the students would go to he// if they did not ask the Lord Jesus Christ to be their personal savior. I didn't say anything then because it was my first year, but I was really offended. She has also made comments about homosexuals to the kids.

    The other one ALWAYS stands up at the faculty meeting in the beginning of the year and gives this really long speech that I guess she thinks is inspirational for the beginning of the year, but it's really a sermon. I think someone told her to tone it down because she only said "I love God" maybe 5 times this year...

    I think my principal would be the same way if she could get away with it. On her first day, she led us in a very Christian prayer. She had a union meeting later that day and hasn't done it since.

    I think before I would report these behaviors, I ask who are they coming from and who are they affecting. If they are coming from an administrator, or they are affecting students, then I would have to say something. If it is from another teacher just to me, I would probably just say, look, people who are not the same religion as you might find that offensive.
     
  11. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I agree with you.
     
  12. HMM

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    Better safe than sorry. People can be pretty sensitive about this stuff. Just saying what others believe can cause people to become upset. Also, children hear what they want to hear some times. You might say one thing but the child goes home and tells her/his parents that the teacher said that they are interpreting the bible wrong. The safe thing to do is to tell then to ask their parents.
     
  13. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Yes, I'd like to clarify I was talking about prudence more than legality.

    Certain objective statements could be taken as establishment. The teacher in this case, for example, could also make the claim that objectively, the Bible mentions Adam and Eve.

    Also, I would think noting that there are other interpretations when one has just been brought up could be seen as an attack on that interpretation.
     
  14. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    I agree more with HMM. I do not feel comfortable talking to students about religion at all. I would also tell them to speak to their parents about their concern.
     
  15. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    I stay away from religion and politics in the classroom. It's less complicated that way.
     
  16. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    I think it is a shame that some people are afraid to talk about politics and religion with their students. Where are they learning it from, then? Most students only get one viewpoint from their families.

    I am not blaming anyone. I understand there is a fine line between talking about religion and promoting it. But I would be willing to take that risk to teach my students about what are probably two of the most important aspects of their belief systems.
     
  17. HMM

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    Unfortunately, that is the way a lot of families like it.
     
  18. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    I would have to agree with saying something. I teach geography and history. If we don't talk about religion and politics we have a problem. These topics are going to come up and to ignore them is irresponsible. How on earth could a student make an informed decision about world events if they don't understand the role religion and emotion plays?

    I always tell my students that there are always at least 2 sides to an opinion based question but they have to JUSTIFY that opinion. So yes we are going to discuss opinions that their parents may not like. But the key is that it is not my job to tell them what to think, it is my job to help them see multiple perspectives and make informed decisions.

    That said, there are certain things that are simply unacceptable. For example, calling someone "gay" is wrong. It certainly doesn't live up to the purpose of the Charter (of Rights and Freedoms in Canada). So if someone is being homophobic I'm sorry but why bother teaching at all if I'm going to encourage homophobia by lack of action. What if the student asked because they were gay?
     
  19. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    This isn't a post about whether the op handled it appropriately. It is about whether the coworker is stepping over the line and should be reported. I personally would have to tell the P and I would also be asking this same question on the board (legalities wise).
     
  20. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    Yes the coworker is stepping over the line. No, I would NEVER report this to the principal. I would speak to the teacher. If I wasn't comfortable with that I would ask my union rep to speak to the teacher. If it couldn't be resolved at that point then I would file a formal complaint but I expect in my board that anyone who had the union talk to them about this would smarten up.
     
  21. HMM

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    That depends on what you are referring to as an opinion. For most their religious beliefs are not an opinion to them and any inference that it is can lead to problems.
     
  22. strwbrykg

    strwbrykg Rookie

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    As far as I'm concerned, and most laws on the subject are concerned, a public school teacher should not be expressing her personal bias toward any religion with students. Social studies/world religions instruction is one thing -- but a clear instructional bias is entirely different and out of line in public school, especially in our diverse world. The bottom line is that it's not our place to instruct them on religious issues, and if we happen to do so (however unplanned or unintentionally) it's disrespectful to them if they don't happen to share our religion -- not to mention that professionally, we need to maintain and show respect for ALL students at all times.

    I have a student in my class who tells other students that they are wrong about their beliefs, or interjects in lessons or activities in class to instruct us based on his religion at home. The other day he told the children that if they believe in Santa or decorate Christmas trees, they believe in lies. It upset several children who do not share his views, and hold their own very close to their hearts. I have told him on numerous occasions that different people have different beliefs and we're all entitled to that freedom -- but it is not our job to tell others that they are wrong (which he often does very openly in class). I let him know that his beliefs are fine and discussing them privately with friends and family is fine -- but when he's downright disrespecting others who are different than him, that is not fine and that is when the conversation needs to stop (or at least, remain outside of school).

    It's a touchy issue, especially for very religious students/families who do carry it with them and talk openly about it with others. I try very hard to respect and honor the different religious perspectives in my classroom, but one thing I won't tolerate is students disrespecting/attacking one another based on their religious beliefs.

    That said, to answer the question (yes, I'm long-winded), as a professional, if we don't let our kids to that to one another, we certainly shouldn't be doing it to them or to our peers. I would first go to the teacher who expressed the bias to the student and try and resolve it privately, respectfully, and professionally. But if it recurred, I would then report it to the administration. If it continued to happen after that, I would go above administration. These kinds of things shouldn't be said in public school.
     
  23. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    HHM if the word opinion would offend those in your neck of the woods (it wouldn't in mind) one could use the word belief. You are allowed to believe what you believe, but others may have different beliefs and if you plan on presenting it as the "correct" interpretation (and hence other views as less so) you have to be able to justify it.

    The teacher's response to the over the top comment seems very appropriate. She wasn't expressing her view, she was clarifying that there was a range of views.

    If I ever get to the point that I have to choose between letting kids know that there are multiple viewpoints and that everyone may not think the same as me or as them or as their parents then I'll leave teaching. I won't be pressured into letting kids leave an institution designed to teach them to think critically and rationally with the idea that beliefs can't be questioned.
     
  24. HMM

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    I'm not sure that it would, but I'd rather not find out. I avoid anything that has to do with religion (it usually doesn't come up anyway).

    I think one need to be careful. There are kids that are conditioned by their parents to believe that their view of the world is correct and that others are wrong. If you start putting thoughts in their head that there are other ways to view a particular item you are undermining all the hard work that the parents put into brain washing their kid. Some people get really upset when you do that. I'd rather not have to deal with those people.


    Again, you need to be careful. The very religions (and others) don't like to have their faith questioned.
     
  25. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    While I understand your concern, the area you live in is clearly very different from where I live. Rationality and questioning is the cornerstone to the educational model. I know that I'm definately within the realm of acceptable practice up here. And anyone who really didn't want their faith questioned to the degree that they don't want their kids to hear that other people have different opinions would just send their kids to Catholic school or private school so here in the public system we are safe to say things like "some people would think that is what the bible meant while others disagree." I don't know if this would or wouldn't be a problem in the Catholic system as I don't teach in it. However, in the public system, as long as I don't express my opinion and simply let students know that different people view this differently it will all be fine. But like I said, if we ever get to the point that questioning is challenged to the degree you seem to be suggesting I'll find another occupation because when we stop questioning we stop learning.
     
  26. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    Jan 23, 2009

    gosh HHM I actually agree with you on this, must be the "Data" Avatar

    I have always said as long as there are math test there will be prayer in school
     
  27. Missy99

    Missy99 Connoisseur

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    I am the product of a liberal Catholic education, and the best advice I ever received was from a priest who told me to question everything, including what he told me.
     
  28. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    Missy,

    I almost posted this idea too. I also have a friend who is a Minister and he would say the same thing. However, I can recognize that depending on the school it is possible that in a religious school this might be a problem.

    As for prayer in school - definately does not happen where I teach!!
     
  29. Missy99

    Missy99 Connoisseur

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    Not too much of a coincidence. I was taught by Basilians, whose headquarters are in Canada :)
     

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