Would you teach students you didn't respect?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Backroads, Jul 29, 2016.

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Would you work with students with a high incident of beliefs/life styles you don't respect?

  1. Yes.

    22 vote(s)
    84.6%
  2. No.

    2 vote(s)
    7.7%
  3. Ultimately depends on the beliefs/lifestyles in question.

    2 vote(s)
    7.7%
  4. Other

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Nutshell story: relative offered teaching job in an area of very high population of a certain religion that relative actively works against and doesn't feel right working with students of such beliefs in a strange combination of feeling the religion is wrong and shame of not being able to respect such students. Otherwise, dream teaching job.
     
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  3. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    If your relative can't respect children because of their religion, she shouldn't be a teacher at that school. Or any other school. Or in any position which requires working with children.

    Sorry.:2cents:
     
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  4. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    If I understand your post, it may be more a matter that the community and culture offends your relative. In truth, children are moldable, pliable, and a book that has yet to be written. I may not agree with the religion, but as a science teacher who frequently has people tell me that that don't believe in evolution, I stick with the facts that the state requires me to teach. It doesn't matter to me whether they believe, as long as they learn the concepts. I want to make sure that if they are going to debate the issue or lobby against it, they at least have all the facts.

    All of that said, if the relative is uncomfortable and miserable, find a new job. Some people are more open to new experiences and diversity than others. I make the distinction that it is the community that he doesn't respect, because our children, the students, are only little windows into their very different homelife, but they have free will. Some will adopt the community "party line", while others will question and take a different stance. I live for those students who ask questions, challenge what they know, and see the big picture. I am also persistent enough to stand my ground without being disrespectful of the culture. I don't know your relative, but perhaps a new perspective would work wonders!
     
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  5. Mr.Literature

    Mr.Literature Companion

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    As a teacher, you don't get a choice. If your relative knows they can't respect the students, then they should avoid that area. But you could teach in any area and end up with a student who doesn't have the same leanings/beliefs as you and what are you going to do?

    I personally could care less what religion my students are. It doesn't affect what I teach them. I LOVE giving my kids diverse texts. I have a special article I read every year with them about the importance of diversity with superheroes. Whether it's more female representation of having other minorities represented.

    If I EVER heard a student say something offensive to hurt another student, I would immediately make sure there were consequences. I don't care what beliefs you have. Everyone is equal in my classroom. This is an issue I have dealt with. My old co-teacher was Christian and had an issue with gay students. Well we had at least 2 of them. One of the boys liked to paint his nails with highlighters or markers. Another liked to wear more effeminate clothing. She made a point of it to tell the one painting his nails to stop that. That it's wrong. I pulled him aside and told him if he ever needed to talk someone, he had me. I told him I liked the color on his nails and that was that. NONE of my kiddos will ever be made to feel as less than. Too many kids end up hurting themselves because they feel like they have absolutely no support from anyone. Especially when they are at the middle school age. It's hard seeing them hurt so much and just wanting to protect them. And if I can do it within the confines of my classroom, they will have that protection.
     
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  6. heatherberm

    heatherberm Cohort

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    If your relative teaches there, he/she needs to be able to put all else aside. Every child deserves a quality education and the best I can give them whether I agree with them and their families or not. Like others have said, if your relative knows they can't do that in that situation, take a pass on the job.
     
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  7. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    I get paid to teach any students who come through my classroom door.
    One of my jobs is to teach them respect.
    (Why so many words spent over a very simple question, I'm not sure.)
     
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  8. Mr.Literature

    Mr.Literature Companion

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    Why does it matter? Different people answer things differently. And I don't think it is such a simple question. I think everyone struggles to a certain extent with how much of our own beliefs to put into our lessons or how to balance everyone's beliefs so that everyone is left feeling good.
     
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  9. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Sarge, the simple answer is we teach. The context in which we teach, and our comfort level is complex. If the discomfort level is too high, leave. But to grow as an individual, we must consider our discomfort and whether or not that affects our job performance. As admin, I would think that would matter to you.
     
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  10. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Since probably 90% of the population has "beliefs" I don't particularly respect, it would be kind of impossible to refuse a job in which I would be in contact with this kind of community. Also just because I don't respect certain beliefs doesn't mean that I don't respect the people holding those beliefs. I've had students and parents of all kinds of beliefs, even ones I feel are reprehensible. I deal with them all professionally, and I deal with the children as children. Young minds who are molded to the ideas and views of their guardians through no fault of their own. I only hope to open their minds a little more to the reality that we live in a world of many different views and ideas all with varying degrees of supporting evidence, and diverse perspectives and ways of living.

    There are parents and teachers who hold the view that the parent has the sole right to train and shape the positions and views of their children, keeping from them certain information or ideas that they dislike, and teachers should have no part in educating the child about these things or asking them to broaden their mind about these things. I disagree with that point of view strongly, and I don't really care what others think about that. People should experience many different ideas, people, and opinions and learn how to think critically about them in order to form their own opinions.

    I will say, I wouldn't put myself at risk choosing a job that is tied to a school advocating a particular belief that is hostile to me and would fire me for my "lifestyle". That's why I don't even bother applying for private Christian schools (well that and their usually dismal pay and benefits).
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2016
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  11. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Your
    Your relative actively works AGAINST a certain religion? Perhaps should consider a new profession.
     
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  12. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    I don't know if we are agreeing or disagreeing but as a parent, I did not want any teacher using their position as a platform to promote or advance any social, political, religious or other agenda. Discussion or debate may be fine but there is a line that should not be crossed (but oftentimes is). If the teacher is strictly a facilitator in these discussions, fine. But to use the position to actively promote ne's own belief system is unprofessional and inexcusable

    To the OP, as a teacher and as one who has experience in other fields, I agree with others here....I would not put myself professionally in a situation where my belief system is not in alignment with the vast majority of the population that I would be working with. Too much potential for stress/conflict and too many opportunities to do the exact same work in an environment that is a better fit for you (which is a huge indicator for job satisfaction).
     
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  13. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Thanks for the discussion.

    It's a public school, just in a community that happens to have a high population of this. My relative doesn't feel he can switch gears from being the person who works and speaks so much against this group to being the necessarily neutral teacher and not being allowed to speak openly.

    I agree, if one is so outspoken, it's probably not worth the stress and risk of putting oneself in that situation only to slip up.
     
  14. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Yes. I have taught students who love political candidates I don't, have parents who are racist, and parents who have different religious backgrounds etc. I won't say it is always easy, but I find that you really can find good in any child. The challenge of finding good in each student makes teaching exciting.

    Before I entered teaching, I had a lot more hate than I do now. Teaching has helped me to be able to be around adults who have very different views than my own. One teacher once taught me something I will never forget. She told me that in any situation, a teacher can always be a role model. He or she can always be calm and professional no matter how poor the behavior of a student. She went on to say that students always remember more what you do than what you say. In every situation we can be a tolerant person in an intolerant world.
     
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  15. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I believe this to be the line as well, except in rare circumstances. For instance a parent who wants their child to be raised believing that black people are inferior to white people, or gay or trans people are evil or predators and should be bullied or treated with less respect. Regardless of whether it is controversial or not, ALL students WILL be taught that ALL people are to be treated with respect and deserve equal rights in my classroom. I have no problem promoting or advancing this "agenda" whether some think it is unprofessional or inexcusable. In fact I think not promoting this "agenda" is unprofessional and inexcusable. Sadly many teachers are too afraid to teach these lessons anymore for fear of stepping on toes. That just makes them ineffective teachers in my opinion. If a parent doesn't like it, they can ask to have their kid transferred out of my classroom. Though my principal has never entertained those requests, so they're likely just stuck with it unless they change schools.

    But in most cases, (for instance we've discussed Trump's ideas and comments in our class, and Democrat ideas and platform) I stay as a neutral facilitator. If I feel a particular voice or perspective is missing from a discussion I will try to guide students into thinking of an opposing idea and the reasoning behind it, gather enough courage to share their voice, or just pose it myself as a hypothetical.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2016
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  16. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    There is a vast difference between respecting the majority beliefs of a community and respecting the individual students. In my classroom, I make it clear that we must be respectful of all beliefs, even if disagree with them personally. To help this along, I have often stated, "In this class, let's avoid the topics of religion, politics, and UFOs." This serves two purposes. One, it keeps students from arguing Jesus vs. Mohammad (this has happened and I had to cut it off quickly). Two, the students get so wrapped up talking about that third topic that they forget the other two. ;)
     
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  17. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I certainly feel for many people who homeschool/private school just because so much agenda, intentionally or not, seems to get promoted. If it comes to having to pick between possibly being overcomfortable in my personal beliefs at school and having my beliefs outrightly attacked and criticized with real bias, I'm probably going to pick the former and I doubt I'm far from alone.

    That being said, a teacher who is able to put his own beliefs and opinions in perspective by way of the lesson and allow for an honest discussion and even debate is an awesome teacher. I remember fondly a high school teacher who was so good at this that no one could even pinpoint his actual religious/political beliefs (I wound up being very surprised when I stumbled upon him deeply involved at one church.)

    In my relative's case, I think he is placing, for good or for bad, more value upon freedom to act against this group than upon being that fair and neutral teacher.

    A teacher ought to try respect a student if not the beliefs (I know I've done this) without turning into some personal mission to "convert" that student.
     
  18. Milsey

    Milsey Habitué

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    No. A male student beat up a girl in my classroom two years ago. I mean, really pummeled her. I put him in the back corner after that and never called on him. I didn't want any contact with him. He failed my class and I think he dropped out the following year.
     
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  19. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    What on earth does this have to do with the topic, Milsey?
     
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  20. Mr.Literature

    Mr.Literature Companion

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    I think it has to do with her losing any sort of respect for the male student that assaulted the girl. And so she didn't call on him or acknowledge that he was in class. So what I'm assuming she means is that you shouldn't have to teach kids you don't respect. But in her case it isn't about religion. It's about an attack on a female student.
     
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  21. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    This is a behavior/anger mgt problem. Putting him in the back corner was hardly a suitable consequence if that was all that resulted. I might have a problem working for a district that didn't handle such issues like this seriously, but other than that this doesn't seems like a beliefs conflict.
     
  22. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Religion and politics set such a huge backdrop of life in America, and in many cases is the reason we're even educating students (in the case of politics) so that they can make informed decisions as adults. I think it's missing out on a huge way of getting kids engaged or providing them real context to their learning or events happening in the real world that they are trying to make sense of if you rule it out of your classroom entirely.

    I believe in the opposite approach of "we're going to discuss it, but we're not going to shoot anyone down, and look at the reasoning and evidence behind every position". Every idea is debated and discussed respectfully and we look at the line of thinking behind every position even if it's one I don't agree with, so we can get into the heads of those who do have these positions and realize that they may have their own reasons for these ideas even if we don't agree with them.

    As the facilitator I just shut things down when something is blatantly disrespectful to a particular group or person. Having this open forum and not being afraid to discuss the elephant in the room humanizes those who have different ideas and opinions than yourself because students come to understand why these positions exist. A huge part of the polarization that is occurring in the country isn't because we are sharing our ideas with each other. It's because we see people who disagree with us as the "enemy". This way of teaching also teaches students to think about their opponents views first and hold meaningful discussions based on those points rather than automatically shooting someone down (usually with insults) just because they disagree and not engaging in any deeper thought.

    I also am not afraid of letting students know my positions. We're humans too and have our own beliefs and ideas. I do my best to not promote anything (except respect and equal rights, as stated earlier), but students need to learn that every source of information comes with biases, including their teachers, and that they should look at the knowledge their being given within the context of the bias that may be associated with it. Purposefully hiding my own beliefs or ideas in a way is dishonest, because it makes it seem like you're trying to lead them toward a specific conclusion while posing as a completely unbiased source, which is never the case.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2016
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  23. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Ah. That makes sense. It addresses the topic, just not the OP question.
     
  24. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I sincerely hope that I will eventually be able to run a classroom where I feel a little more free to speak my own opinions and permit a little more open discussion. However, the culture of my current school doesn't lend itself to that atmosphere. I'd have at least a half-dozen parent complaints before the end of the day.
     
  25. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Speaking your own opinions as an educator can cause students to feel held hostage to such opinions. As a grad student, I was subjected to an instructor's political thoughts, felt it would be reflected in my grades if I offered a differing argument and held my tongue until the anonymous student feedback/class evaluations were due.
     
  26. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I think there's definitely a difference between speaking out your opinions in the middle of class and telling students that your opinions are correct and theirs are wrong and simply responding to a question about your opinion that has been asked appropriately by students. If you are a teacher who has been known to cultivate fair discussion, sharing your opinions when asked in an appropriate way does not make students feel held hostage to the teachers positions.

    If asked about my positions on things I usually state: "Well, I feel... based on this evidence, etc." or "Well my personal opinion is..., etc." making it clear that just because I hold these views doesn't mean that everyone does, and I almost always end with "...but you should form your own conclusions". Sometimes I don't share my opinion about something even when asked. It depends on the context, the issue, the students in my classroom, the climate, etc.

    The only exceptions when I state something as fact is when the issue deals with treating other human beings as "less than". Anyone who disagrees with my doing that can go suck eggs honestly (as my grandmother would say). I don't really care what they think.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2016
  27. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I do think that being allowed to share your opinions has a place in some of our classrooms. However, there are many schools (and teachers, to be honest) who find that sharing an opinion contrary to the school (or teacher) would bring about unfortunate consequences for the student (teacher).

    For example, many religious schools require their teachers to sign morality clauses stating what the organization believes in and what you are expected to believe in and teach. I am assuming you can figure out what specific types of people these schools would not allow. As a human being, I may not share those beliefs, but I certainly can't share that with my students.
     
  28. Mr.Literature

    Mr.Literature Companion

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    I wholeheartedly agree. I wish we had a different environment. But everything we do is under scrutiny. It takes one student being offended for us to have our career in jeopardy. I think teachers are held to very different standards than any other profession. Heck, I'm even careful when I'm out and about just in case I do stumble across a student. We have to censor ourselves in and out of school.
     
  29. Peregrin5

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  30. blazer

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    If you take the money you take the job, simples!
     
  31. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I'm not sure how it could be thought of as a "dream" job if there is concern about not being able to respect the students and, I'm certain, their families. This needs to be a "pass"; let someone take the job who will give their best to the students in their care.
     
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  32. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    I've been doing this for many years. LOL.
     
  33. otterpop

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    I chose yes, but I suppose there are certain very limited situations where I would choose no.

    In some strange hypothetical situation, if I were in a country that had a terrorist group, and that terrorist group had an excellent job opportunity at one of their schools, I'd have a hard time going in and objectively teaching those students. (I'm thinking Nazi Germany, but there are dozens of examples.) In a situation like that, I'd choose to work within my own community rather than take the job.

    I can't think of any situation like that in our present day nation that would compare. However, if your relative feels that strongly that the people at this school are "bad" people, then I don't think it's advisable for that person to take the job. Note that I'm not saying this person's beliefs are well-founded, but if that's truly their feeling, I think those children deserve better.
     
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  34. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    So the teacher isn't rejecting or saying the students are the problem, it is the community? I can see not choosing to be in certain environments, as long as you don't make it personal about each child, when you don't even know them yet. I don't think the relative would be happy in the job, so don't get me wrong. I just hate to think that I would discriminate against a child with differing beliefs. I so understand that there are places that I would fear for my safety - whole different ball of wax to me.
     
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  35. Backroads

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    The latest in this family saga is that he turned down the job. He feels like he is encouraging the practice of this religion simply by teaching them without speaking out against their beliefs.
     
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  36. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Well, he may find it difficult to find a homogeneous group free of "distasteful" beliefs, but that is his right, certainly. Maybe I just choose different battles or different targets - I teach them as they come to me, and trust me, if I got to choose, I would turn away some, but that isn't in my job description. The way I see it, I am the professional in the room, and I act professionally to all students. You have to watch this video if it is new to you.

     
  37. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Out of fairness to this group that your relative is openly against, if he/she cant put aside prejudice then absolutely dont work at that school.
     
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  38. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    This is true. If it's a bad fit on either side, it's for the best.
     
  39. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Im curious about how the relative would deal with the random one or two students of this religion he 'works against' that he might have to teach in ANY school.
     
  40. mckbearcat48

    mckbearcat48 Cohort

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    Since when did teachers (I'm not one currently) get the ability to choose who they teach? I would like to teach anybody.
     
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  41. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I can relate to this post a bit too well. I became a public school teacher where over 50% of families had a religion that was probably the #1 religion that I disagreed with. While I never will agree with that religion, I was so humbled by those families. The students were so sweet and kind. The parents were so helpful to me and to their child's education. I was so changed by that experience. The media often paints a religion or ethnicity with such a narrow brush. Teaching has allowed me to see good in so many groups that get a bad rap in the press. OP, I feel bad for your relative that he/she will miss out on the great humbling experience that I was blessed with.
     

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