Teachers and (Im)Morality: The [Social] World is Flat

I read a quick post by Joanne Jacobs on the story of a teacher who was suspended for one month for a picture of her at a bridal shower. In the picture she is seen near the male stripper who was working the shower. This picture was posted to facebook by someone else.

Seen With Stripper, Suspended

A little while ago I wrote a post on my blog about some of the daily frustrations of teaching, it fed to my facebook account, a parent complained about it, I was cautioned about writing anything that could ‘come back on the school’.

This fed into my twitter feed today:

And MissTeacha and I had a twitter conversation today about morality clauses in teacher contracts, one of which she has. When I asked her who decided on what was immoral behaviour, she replied:

missteachatweet

My comment on Joanne’s post is the following:

The economic world is not the only one that has flattened. The social world has as well. Where it used to be easy to manage different social spheres (work-related, school-related, friends, family, etc…) it’s becoming more complex. What Stephen says is true, and social networking a la facebook makes it even easier to find cases that may ‘offend’. We’re playing a new game with the old rules…

So. Either we continue to accept the fact that teachers (and librarians) are held to higher moral standards (whatever that means, depending on whose standards we choose as the metre stick) and try to negotiate our lives within the flattening of our social spheres, or we start to tell new stories and create new norms around how our personal lives are judged in the widening spotlight. Can we really expect our social networks to change without a change in how we navigate and are judged within them?

6 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Well, actually, I do believe that anyone who works with kids should be kept to a higher moral standard. It’s too bad the laws allow convicted child molesters to go from one district/school to another without even raising an eyebrow. So, while the powers-that-be are monitoring the social time/non-work hours habits of teachers, they should also be working to get the child-molesting scum bags off the streets and out of our schools.

    There’s so little morality left in the world. While standing next to a stripper isn’t the most egregious offense, people watch and listen to what teachers say and do, whether we like it or not.

    BTW: I don’t want the person who does my hair, skin and nails to be a creep, either, but, that’s just me.
    .-= Marcy Webb´s last blog ..What’s Most Important? =-.

    1. Is it only through schools that we find people who want to hurt children? As a professional, I expect to act in a way befitting not only my profession but my humanity. It makes me think of an aspect of my own personal moral code, do no harm. It comes from medical ethics. Are medical practitioners held to the same moral standards teachers are? I’d say no. They are held to standards of malpractice, directly governing their practice, but not to arbitrary, undefined morals.

      Something else I noticed, the story of the teacher who was suspended and the one of the librarians (see the story linked in the post) both have to do with the judging of women. Coincidence?

  2. I guess I’ve chosen to “negotiate” my life in the flattening spheres. B/c of the morality clauses I am careful what I say on my facebook, I use a pseudonym for my blog and twitter accounts. Actually, I changed all of pictures to private and enhanced security on the ability to find me = Social Media Consciousness. if I may steal the term from WEB DuBois (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_consciousness)

    In the south, I don’t expect the policies toward morality to change and if they do it will be to make them harsher-clearer of what the penalties will be. We still live under laws of the old south: teachers are a moral compass. And someways it’s true, parents-students look to us for moral guidance, role models . . .
    .-= Miss Teacha´s last blog ..Jobs are on the line, pt 2 =-.

    1. It’s as much as we teach our students – there is no (or very little) privacy online. It is either be very aware of how we participate or suffer the consequences. Makes sense. But that only covers how we choose to participate in social networks.

      What about the case of the teacher who did not even post the picture? Someone who has no active online presence can still be judged online. So does this mean that as teachers we are expected to censor what we do in our personal lives for fear of being judged in our social networks? Can you imagine thinking, I better not go to that bridal shower, there may be some activity that seems slightly immoral to some and this may affect my job?

      And what of the librarians posing with cocktails? Are we really expected to not drink in public, something that is legal and accepted, when done in moderation, for adults in our North American culture?

  3. Your situation happened to me as well. I posted to twitter that I was frustrated that my kids weren’t doing the homework reading. Instead of a quiz, a teacher in my network suggested a contest in the class. I responded that competition was not a part of the school ethos and that many kids have LD diagnostics. A parent read it and complained, even though I mentioned no children’s names. Just looking for ideas!! – I could take my account private, but that would make it more difficult to cultivate the very important on-line relationships that are an important part of my teaching and learning life.
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..Let Us Do The Dance of Joy! =-.

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