Did you hear that story recently about the teacher in South Carolina whose naked picture was posted to all her students by a boy who stole her cell phone? The young man was not punished until there was an outrage by the public. In fact, the teacher was blamed and almost accused of corrupting a minor. She was pressured to resign. What is going on here?
I was a high school teacher for a hot minute. Actually for about a year. I also kept my iPhone on my desk, but I had a password to unlock it. I didn’t trust my students completely. I too have some racy photos on my phone. Don’t judge. It doesn’t make me a porn star. It makes me a modern woman living in the millennial century or whatever we call this.
What I think is ridiculous in this case is that the Superintendent was upset at the teacher and almost charged her for violating a teen. He called the picture, “inappropriate material.”
I’m sorry, perhaps she didn’t realize that in her personal life she wasn’t allowed to send her HUSBAND a naked photo for Valentines Day, as she later reported. This is about more than just teachers and students, this is about women and the way we perceive them. Any woman who is comfortable and free with her body is looked down upon. I mentioned in a previous post about how an indecent man sent me a picture of his penis. THAT is inappropriate because it was unsolicited. In the case of the teacher, she was doing something completely natural in her private life. It is not a sin to be naked for god’s sake. I think it is a sin to give high school kids the impression that she made a mistake by taking the picture in the first place. Violating someone’s privacy is a mistake and should be a felony. If my husband was looking at my cell phone without my permission I would be upset, much less some punk kid.
I was hesitant to mention here that I have pictures of myself in my bra on my phone. I was afraid I would be judged, but how many women have pictures of themselves in a bikini? What’s the difference? You don’t need to know why I have these pictures, you just need to know that this is my business. My private business, that I would expect no one whether it is a student or member of my faculty or family, to abuse. And honestly, if you are judging me for my personal life, get a life. If I had naked pictures of myself I’m sure you would look at me differently. However, you stare at art all the time that depicts the nude human body. What’s the difference?
I teach in college now and I don’t lock my phone, I don’t know why I forgot that young adults are also not to be trusted. I will lock it now. Looks like the world is a lot dirtier than I had thought. Let’s be clear in this case: the student was dirty not the teacher. It is not ‘illicit’ or even illegal or immoral to have any kind of picture you want on your personal phone.
Are we still in puritanical times? Why was this student not punished immediately? I will tell you why, because he was a boy. And boys will be boys, won’t they? It’s like the Superintendent was saying the boy could not help but post those pictures to other students. He could not help but invade her privacy and then publicize her personal business. The student also threatened the teacher by telling her, “Your reckoning is coming.” That is a form of harassment.
Where are this boy’s parents? Why is he allowed to breathe anymore? My parents would have put me in a room where breathing would have become very difficult if I disrespected my teachers this much. In India, teachers are considered gods. In fact the word ‘Guru’ means teacher.
I show this particular cartoon in my college class every year when we talk about visual images and their arguments. What is this image saying? I ask my students all the time and I get some interesting answers. This is the way it is now, teachers are perceived to be sluts while students are perceived to be valiant.
You know the reason I don’t teach high school anymore. I will be completely honest: It was too hard. That is it. The hours were outrageous; I got to school at 6:30 in the morning and usually was working on lesson plans until about 7:00 at night. The kids were out of control. I would get paid shit, and I was teaching students who I know for a fact were making fun of me behind my back.
I mean the intellectual level wasn’t where I was comfortable teaching, and that may be a big reason I quit. But more than anything, it was too much for me. I am more than grateful and impressed with teachers. They are giving their lives for these students and we don’t even respect them enough to give them decent wages. On top of that, we blame the failure of our educational system on teachers. They may be the only people in this system that are not failing.
Schools and education, in general, is going down because of Superintendents like this one who took the side of some idiot kid over a responsible adult teacher. When are we going to understand that respect is due to teachers and discipline is due to students?
My parents were whacked with belts as kids. I am not suggesting that we should beat kids by any means. I don’t even believe in spanking. But I do think that authorities in school should demand some common decency and respect.
Kids who don’t respect teachers will probably not respect their bosses and will probably therefore not advance much in their careers. Boys who are taught to ‘sexualize’ teachers will do the same for all the women in their lives who have authority.
I am aware that there are some isolated incidences of teachers who have illicit affairs with their students. These cases are so few and far between, that is why they get so much press. If this were happening every day, no one would find it interesting. Of course, we should be appalled by this behavior, but this behavior is not even close to the norm.
If there is such a thing as selfless service, teachers are doing just that. They put in excruciating long hours and are getting less and less respect from their students. But they keep on going. Why? Most of them care. Yes, some of them are just doing their jobs, but most of them are actually concerned with students’ learning and welfare.
Any nitwit with a degree can become a college professor. However, there is a long arduous process to become a high school teacher. There are so many checks and balances in this system that it is rare that an unqualified person is hired.
Teachers have some of the highest rates of quitting their jobs, more than almost any other profession. Why do you think that is? They are not valued. They are not respected, by their students or by society at large. In Finland, teachers are paid a much higher salary and only the best in their field become teachers.
“In Japan, for example, teachers are held in high esteem and normally viewed as among the most important members of a community. There is suspicion and even disdain for the work of teachers that occurs in the U.S. Teachers in Japan typically are paid significantly more than their peers in the U.S. The profession of teaching is one that is seen as being of central value in Japanese society and those who choose that profession are well compensated in terms of salary, pension, and respect for their knowledge and their efforts on behalf of children.”—Psychology Today
That makes sense to me. This is not some second rate job, but teachers in the United States do not get paid much more than the new minimum wage of $15 an hour. They are getting paid less then garbage men, who are also government workers. Why do we value our garbage more than our students?
I’m glad I’m not a teacher because the modern day teenager is not someone I can deal with. When I was teaching at a high school, I became very close to set of jocks that were in one of my classes. At first, I was very disciplined with them, because they would screw around.
However, I built a certain relationship with them that started with respect. They knew I was not going to be easy on them, but they would come to me and chat with me before and after class. They trusted me and genuinely treated me the way a teacher should be treated.
Once a certain football player who I had become close with started to sexually harass a young woman in my class. I was livid. I sat him down, looked him in the eyes and told him this kind of behavior was outrageous and unacceptable. Then in my passionate moment of anger, I actually said to him, “You can jack off on your own time.”
OK, I realize I should not have said those exact words. I saw my entire career flashing in front my eyes after I said that. And if he had reported me I could have been fired. He stopped harassing the girl and we never spoke of it again, we went on as if it never happened.
I happen to think that I made a huge mistake, but I think it is ridiculous that speaking to your students in their own language could make you lose your job as a teacher. I was working in an uptight neighborhood. But teachers are constantly given a hard time, no matter what the situation.
Think about this: teachers create professionals of every other sort. Without teachers, we would not be able to have an educated society. Teachers are more important than the inane politicians we spend our time reading about. Let’s give a little attention and gratitude where it is deserved.
Hats off to you, teachers. You do something that most of us could never do.