May 23, 2010
Is it Ethical for a Current Teacher to Publicly Write about their job?
Yes, it's ethical. Teachers should write about their jobs, not as journalists but as biased humanistic observers. It's unethical not to. With the recent outlash against teachers for not reaching the bar, teachers more than ever should write about what they do in the classroom.
Not just about education, but cliques, trends, clashes and what works and what doesn't work in the field. The department of education is cheering about the new trend, crowdsourcing.
Since education is failing, the Department of education wants to champion this idea of great educators sharing ideas in the cloud. The problem is the bad teacher don't benefit from crowdsourcing. It's enough to teach most teachers how to update lesson plans.
I began to write about teaching, not as a criticism, but as logotherapy, two years ago. I've clocked 23,000 words on the subject. A book? The nut graph is this: teachers are not like Mr. Holland's Opus, but more like a beleaguered Yoda after the fall of the Jedi.
The first amendment protects my right to free speech but doesn't protect how people respond to what I write.
Can I get fired? Sure. So, I guess it depends on the writer. Can your students find your website, your article, or your blog? Sure. They can choose to agree or disagree, dispute or support. If someone disagrees isn't it the egalitarian nature of the web at work? As long as what you post is not slander, dishonest, hate speech, or intentionally set out to harm someone (like cyber-bullying) then I think it's ok to post.
For me, I write publicly. It's pretty easy to trace my real identity. I do not claim to hide who I am.
If I were to write for a zine, a blog, a newspaper or a book, I think I deserve to be transparent.
I teach, "write to be heard" so I try to practice what I teach.
I do not include real names of other people unless these people give me permission.
I sparingly include images of my workplace, students, logos, or anything that identifies my school. I try to write in a humanizing manner, and not merely to harrangue on my own institution.
I will mention identifying information I I think such whistleblowing is for the greater good. But, I would write about the whistle-blowing and not use my website as a whistle. Proper channels should be used to expose corruption.
People are afraid of the power of writers.
The printed word is potent.
At the coffee stand, yesterday, the world geography teacher and I commiserate. He says I don't commiserate enough. I tell him about my writing. He says, "You know, I'm tired of this gig. The kids. You know. They're like robots."
His remarks strike me as remarkable. Here's a fairly intelligent guy, good looking, head on his shoulders, but I see the same dispassionate face in him that I see in my own face.
It's pretty rough out in the field. I don't see as many teacher bloggers as there are librarian bloggers. No teacher friends commiserating on the web. We need to represent. I'm sure our students write about us on the web, so we need a national writer's project upsurge to write about the class.
In France, a teacher wrote about his experience as a suburban French teacher in Paris. His story was made into a film, "Entre Les Murs" (The Class). It's a sobering chronicle. He does not represent himself as a champion in the classroom, but rather as a beaten down, yet prodigious, educator. Like my coffee buddy and I. All of us intellectually curious. But what beleagueres us?
When we writers write about the world we live in, our passion is to provide a lens by which to view the world. One writer's lens is one lens. His words are not apodictic truth. Have we gone now to the view that the word ipso facto equals reality? Words represent, not reify.
What we write, whether it be prom or final weeks, is unfettered from the thing itself. It becomes archetype.
The teacher who writes about their experience is not a journalist. He is writing a memoir. Not reporting a story. Feeling will flow. Words can be misconstrued.
It's because meaning has vanished. Teaching is passé. In the future, there won't be the same educational system we have now. Teachers in the flesh will serve more the role of "librarian."
Media will teach. People don't want mentors anymore; they want information.
I am an educator and a writer. I was born in Louisiana and I now live in the Big Apple. My heart beats to the rhythm of "Ain't No Place to Pee on Mardi Gras Day". My style is of the hot sauce variety. I love philosophy sprinkles and a hot cup of café au lait.