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Teacher suspended because of blog

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by vehar, Feb 19, 2011.

  1. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    To be honest I think she crossed a line- a name and a picture aren't exactly the most cunning of disguises, so she has fairly plainly identified herself in public. And what she wrote sounded like a rant; a vent; a rage, which is fine if you're anonymous, or the targets of your ire are, but not if you can point to either. I think the school is perfectly entitled to tear a strip off her for representing it so negatively. I think they were excessive and disproportionate to suspend her, though, unless there are other issues behind the scenes. She refers to her pupils as 'rude, disengaged lazy whiners.' What, all of them? Because that's what she's said by making such a sweeping statement. Hardly a professional way to conduct oneself when you're in a position of responsibility. If you want to get the dirty water off your chest, wait until you get home and the doors are closed.
    Freedom of speech is a fine freedom; but no society allows complete freedom of speech. there are all kinds of restrictions on when and how we can express ourselves that upon reflection, might seem inappropriate: we can't publicly accuse people of crimes they haven't committed; we cannot libel or slander; we don't name victims of rape after a trial; we don't allow publication of military secrets, etc; I can't walk into a Church and proclaim allegiance to Satan during the Elevation of the Host. All kinds of things.
    This case deals with American law, and therefore involves Constitutional issues that don't apply here. But to my eye, she expressed herself in an unprofessional and unnecessarily emotional manner that made her and her school look undignified. Part of being an adult is exercising restraint in public, and the internet is a very public place. Before I write anything, I take a deep breath and remember that I might as well be publishing copy for the Times Square ticker-tape news board, for all the reach I can achieve from a keyboard in my study. I sympathise with this teacher, as I do with all teachers who have a hard time in schools. But that doesn't mean that wounded teachers have a right to do and say anything they please as a response.
  2. Western societies seem to allow a great deal of freedom of speech to students; no-one seems to be held accountable for stuff on those 'ratemyteacher', ratemyprofessor', 'ratemyschool' etc. websites. But, ok, the freedom of speech issue aside, why is there such a visceral response to this kind of thing? I'm not being provocative; I genuinely want to know: why is there such a 'shoot-the-messenger' response to people who tell it like it is? It's no longer just the occasional person who's 'having trouble in the classroom'; there's an awful lot of it around... witness this forum. As for 'bringing her school into disrepute', or being 'unprofessional', come on; surely it's the behaviour she describes, and the fact that the schools aren't dealing with it, that brings them into disrepute? And as for 'unprofessional'.... well, I've heard that accusation thrown around so frequently and so loosely, over the decades, and seen the conditions in which it might have been relevant, deteriorate to such an extent, that I just don't recognise it any longer.
  3. Can't agree, vehar. She's complaining that the students don't meet their obligations as students and the management don't meet their own more onerous obligations to deal with that failure. She has to uphold the standards she claims others fail to meet.
    She's between a rock and a hard place. She has to demonstrate her professionalism and her own capacity to meet her own obligations at the same time as trying to get these others to step up to the plate themselves.
    I'm not sure how she could approach it, let alone succeed. But this is clearly a failure on all counts.
  4. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    I have never found that publicly criticising management in any job is an effective way to change things. Experience has taught me that if you dont like the conditions under which you work, leave. I believe she was naive to go public with her comments. She will have to leave the school, get a bad reference and the school will continue unchanged. What has she achieved?
  5. Whilst I agree that she should have been more subtle I think it sad that most public sector workers have to 'like it or lump it' with regards to their working conditions especially since they contribute towards their institutions through taxation. We should be able to express our concerns to management without fear of reprisal.
    What is worse is that we have now arrived at a situation where front line workers are labelled 'unprofessional' and risk ruin for even sensitively exposing weak leadership and ineffectual systems in state services.
  6. She shouldn't have been suspended in my opinion. Unless she made it clear whom she was referring to or referred to her school by name, then she has not behaved 'unprofessionally' (that's such a catch all cop-out excuse to sack/suspend someone - how do you measure whether someone is being unprofessional/professional).
    Although it might have been wiser for her to use a different name than her real one, ultimately it's her blog and she should be allowed to write what she wants - as long as she avoids defamation or slandering anyone who can be clearly identified - which as far as I am aware, she has avoided doing in her blog.
    Also, what if she had denied it was her? Even with her name on it she could still claim its not her doing. I am wondering how the school could prove otherwise.
  7. I agree about the way she expressed herself... but hey, it's a blog, not an article for 'Aspects of Modern Educational Practice', or a PhD thesis. As far as I'm aware, she didn't even criticize management openly; the criticism was directed towards the students' attitudes--- which seems to me quite legitimate; criticism of the authorities was only indirect, the implication being that the situation is ongoing and isn't being dealt with.


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