Thursday, August 31, 2006

Modern education

We have an interesting situation in a nearby town.

A male high school science teacher has begun the process of changing his gender. He informed school officials of his intention last Spring.

He has not undergone any of the necessary operations yet. As part of the process, this teacher, who has been at the school for a number of years and is known by the students as a man, will begin dressing as a woman this September when school starts.

The district said okay.

The district has now held workshops and meetings for parents and faculty, and will hold one for students the first day of school.

So people will understand and accept what is happening.

Parents have the option of requesting that their children not be in this teacher’s classroom. A few have.

A number of parents have voiced support of the teacher and what he is doing.

Those who are not comfortable with the situation have been silent for the most part. But a few who did speak up say they were afraid to say anything because they might be thought prejudiced or be subject to backlash. And they say they know a number of other people who don’t like it, but haven’t spoken up.

But saying that a lot of people oppose it is not the same as those people coming forward. I have no way of telling how many people oppose it. A local columnist, though, did take an informal poll.

71 % of the respondents said the teacher should be fired.

Right, fire a tenured teacher? Obviously they don’t know the power of the teacher’s unions. (I am a teacher, by the way.) Generally the only way to oust a tenured teacher is if he or she commits a crime. And sometimes even that that is not enough.

This does not qualify.

Still, the usual procedure in situations like this - as rare as they are – is for the teacher to transfer to a different school or district where he is not known by his original gender.

For his own good and the good of the students.

It's not clear why this teacher did not do that. Maybe he just felt more comfortable and supported at the school.

Or maybe he is trying to make a statement.

I'm not concerned here with the morality of his decision to change genders. But I have been thinking about his decision to stay in the school and the decision of the district to offer all these workshops and meetings to engender acceptance.

And then I remembered an appropriate G. K. Chesterton passage.

From "The Outlawed Parent" in What’s Wrong with the World:

"Modern education means handing down the customs of the minority, and rooting out the customs of the majority."

Ah. People who switch genders certainly qualify as a minority.

And this sure seems like Modern Education at its most typical.

4 comments:

e76d4960-9c37-11e0-94d0-000f20980440 said...

I have two problems with this post.

First, I absolutely do not put ANY stock in informal poles. We have no data to support who was poled, how they were contacted, and what their backgrounds were as related to the topic at hand. There is a high risk that, wittingly or otherwise, the pole may have been prejudicial. Also, it's easy for anyone to make up numbers to support their personal stand. Therefore, they are completely meaningless. (Every time a local news story claims that people in my area were polled, I inevitably say, "They didn't ask for MY opinion, or anyone I know!...")

Second, the definition of "modern education" cited in the post is myopic and at best, very limited. To state that "Modern education means handing down the customs of the minority, and rooting out the customs of the majority" is to make a blanket statement that is a trademark of the ignorant. While the overall sentiment is understood and appreciated, it simply is too facile for reality.

Lee Strong said...

Eeek. Poling people? That sounds painful.

Now if they poll them first, I think most people would vote against being poled.

Lee Strong said...

I have known some informal Poles in my life, though. A fellow named Stas comes to mind. I still owe him a book.

Alan Capasso said...

First, an informal pole could mean he asked those in his office, yes all poles are flawed and not because they did not ask you but because they do not allow an essay answer. That is except the first Gallop poll: "Who do people say I am?"
If you do not believe that the customs of the minority are supplanting the customs of the majority try getting a class in your public school entitled, "God 101" or "Abortion harms women 666" or "There is nothing gay about homosexual marriage 690".