The Little Things You Never Think Of, and the Big Ones that Ought To Be on Your Mind
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," defending downsized deities since the dawn of the day! Mondays are tough, aren't they? Anyone know which bored deity is responsible for this despicable portion of the week?
I had a busy weekend, and it was only today that I caught up with a few of my fellow bloggesses. One of them is Mrs. B, the Pagan Soccer Mom. She's in my sidebar, and if you've never visited her, wow -- you are in for a treat.
One of Mrs. B's daughter's school teachers said, in front of the kid's whole class, "Pagan holy days are an oxymoron." So far Mrs. B has been unable to wrench a true apology from the teacher in question. Said teacher is only "sorry [insert the name of your child here ... and I mean your child] got her feelings hurt." That's a damn far cry from "I'm sorry I said something so disrespectful about your faith."
I have a little bumper sticker of the First Amendment on the side of my car. I look at it every morning before I come into school. I have students who are Jehovah's Witnesses and students who openly wear devil-worship garb. And everything in between. For me to make any comment whatsoever about their faith would be out of the question. I am a government employee, and the government does not legislate religion.
So far. Let's keep our fingers crossed.
Thank goodness I had a few years of substitute teaching before I got hired full time. In my early school days I talked about faeries and such -- a little too much. Luckily, the students who heard it were seniors who graduated and moved on. Now I work with freshmen and sophomores, and they could not pull a word about religion from my lips if they reached the whole way down my throat.
This is not to say that I don't mention the Bible, and pastors, and all of that from time to time. The Bible and Christian churches are part of my students' valuable prior knowledge (see post below). I offer no opinion, but referring occasionally to the Bible as a piece of literature, or even history (although just about everything in it is fiction) can be helpful to kids looking for something to write about.
Offer an opinion, though? This would be absolutely out of the question. When you are a public employee, you have to be absolutely, positively neutral about religion. I even watch that I don't make snarky asides, or even double entendres that my student population wouldn't understand.
But wait: There's more, Billy Mays! In these days, a teacher needs to be careful about touching a student, even a cheery pat on the back. No terms of endearment, either. Not even neutral ones, like "kiddo" or "my dear." For awhile I was calling my students lieblings, but I've even stopped that. It saddens me that I must address my students as "students" or "ladies and gentlemen," but it is what it is. Best to err on the side of caution.
Can you imagine how difficult it is for a person who has a daughter just about the age of her students, to watch those students file into the class each morning, and not even give them a quick, maternal pat on the shoulder? Or to look over someone's paper who has worked really, really hard, and not pat them on the back? Can't be too familiar. A very tough challenge for a born mom like me.
Mrs. B's daughter has had her First Amendment rights abridged by a government employee. And apparently a stubborn one too. I would even call into question the discussion that predicated the remark.
Teaching is a mine field. The First Amendment is a road map through it. Teachers, read it. Every day.