I Heart Loser Teachers

Prepare to laugh.

I’m about to suggest that it is possible for a person to maintain strict professional neutrality on a subject despite having a personal opinion about it.

There are some professions where such a talent is vital.  Teaching comes to mind.

I’d also like to include journalism, but the subset of “journalists” who work for national “news” organizations that promote their own biases as a badge of honor to increase ratings have soiled the professional beds of the rest of us.

But this isn’t a column about that time-worn topic. This is a column about teachers.

Chances are pretty good you remember your favorite teachers.  Whether the subject was math, science, social studies or the arts, my favorite teachers helped me see beyond myself.  In a world of intellectual and physical conflict, they taught me how people make decisions and take action, and how those actions have affected history.  My teachers showed me how disciplined scientific inquiry produces results that can be trusted.  They taught me to think, both rationally and abstractly.  I owe that to my teachers, but it was all in a day’s work for them.  That’s how teachers teach.

Personally, I don’t think this is a difficult concept to grasp, but I may be wrong.  Because these days the idea of fairly presenting young people with two (or more) sides of a sensitive issue strikes many adults as not worth the risk.  They worry that Bobby and Suzie will make decisions for themselves, and we’re afraid they’ll make a choice we won’t agree with, and we can’t control that.

Parents, it is your absolute right to make sure your children know how you feel about anything and everything.  And I’m guessing that most of the time they’ll choose to agree with you, but occasionally they won’t.  Kind of like you did with your parents.  It’s a risky business, loving your children.

Meanwhile, there are some who aren’t helping things.  The latest Exhibit A comes from the son of our President, Donald Trump, Jr., who, at the recent presidential rally in El Paso, offered this bit of dim thinking:

“I love seeing some young conservatives because I know it’s not easy.  Keep up that fight.  Bring it to your schools.  You don’t have to be indoctrinated by these loser teachers that are trying to sell you on socialism from birth. Because you can think for yourselves.  They can’t.”

I’m not against young conservatives, nor young liberals.  But I object to the grossly inaccurate picture of “loser teachers” whose alleged professional goal is to turn students into lemming-stepping socialists.  Seriously?  To paraphrase Hillary Clinton by changing only one word, the president’s son apparently believes it’s all part of a “vast left-wing conspiracy.”

He’s entitled to his opinion.  Here’s mine.

As an adult, I’ve known (as friends) many teachers over the years.  Some are politically and socially conservative.  Some are politically and socially liberal.   But rather than losers, I consider them extraordinary and remarkable for pursuing their low-pay passion, while putting up with the garbage occasionally thrown at them by short-sighted legislators and people like the president’s son.

The teachers I know, and that you know, are trained professionals.  They are completely capable of presenting both sides of an issue evenly and fairly so that students can learn how to analyze and evaluate the complex issues they’ll face as adults.  And yes, that means a discussion of the world’s economic systems will include more than just a check list of the merits of capitalism.  And that a discussion of human rights will properly include the often shockingly bad behavior demonstrated by our own nation towards people who aren’t white Christians.

After all, how can our young people make their way in the world if they aren’t taught what the world is actually all about?  Do we really just want to produce a nation of robots?

Aren’t you glad you’re more than just a robot?

This is how education works, and anyone who tells you different is either selling you something, or playing on your fears in exchange for a vote, or clicks.   Either way, as your favorite teacher would have told you, it’s not helpful.


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