I usually complain that parents don’t take enough interest in their child’s education. Well, I was made a liar today! Okay let me explain. First of all I have an open door policy in my class, which means I invite parents to come sit in my class if they want. I created a website specially for parents and students so they know what we do in class. In fact my class website is located here at wordpress as well. Anyway, I am a firm believer in motivating parents to give me ideas, suggestions, and feedback about their child’s education because I want their input, I want to do the best I can for their child. Now that I explained my view, let me tell you my story.
After school today an irate parent came to the school to complain about me. One of my co-worker (whose son is also in my Advanced Placement United States History class) told me while she was in the office, a dad came in asking for the history department head. So my co-worker asked who was he looking specifically for and the parent said, he wanted to talk to Ms. A (me). My friend told the man, “Oh, my son has her for class, she’s a great teacher!” The man angrily looks at her and said, ” I’m not here to praise her, I’m here to complain about her doing debates in class!” He told her he was upset with me because I was setting his kid up for failure… he said I should be focusing on history. The debate he was upset about was the election issues. On Fridays we do current events, and I told my students we would do debates about election issues until the election so they know what is going on. The dad was upset about this and wanted me to stop doing debates. At least that is what he told my co-worker. Tomorrow I’m sure I will find out the full story.
As a teacher, we are not permitted to talk about religion or political views. I don’t tell my students what my views are on those two issues. They have asked but I always tell them my views are not important but theirs are because they have to form their opinions themselves. In my class, I do not censor my student’s views because it would be hypocritical of me to teach them about the First Amendment one day and the next take those rights from them. It’s ironic, but one of my students had told the class during our discussion of freedom of speech that she felt that students had more freedom of speech than teachers. I had asked her, how? She said, ” Ms. A, it’s sad but I can say what I feel or think about any topic in class, but you are not allowed to because of rules preventing you.”
Are parents threatened by free speech? Are some parents afraid to let their child think for themselves? Are they worried their child will rebel if they are exposed to different ideas and thoughts? From a teacher’s stand point, I believe in encouraging students to express their opinions and ideas without fear or discrimination. Education is not regurgitation… in order for them to be prepared for the “world’ classroom they have to be able to think for themselves and not me telling them what to believe.