I teach a reading program, but do all of my students have the same rights? Do they have a right to read their own books or essays? What about their student presentations? What are the rules about sexual harassment and what about privacy and confidentiality in the workplace? How about what are the school laws about public access, confidentiality, and search and seize?
My classroom teacher has a policy about student presentations. But, she says that it is not applicable to her because I teach a reading program and not a curriculum. What about the policy about gender discrimination? Is this illegal in my state or county?
If my county or state requires a high school graduate to take a prescribed course, do I have to teach all subjects in the prescribed order, or can I teach a class of any level, as long as the class is not overly competitive, and that I adhere to the state and county law on my viewpoints of what are the reading requirements? What are these high school law reading requirement “requisites” again? If one has a religious viewpoint, is that viewpoint “state law” in the eye of the religious minded?
I ask these questions because, as a Christian, I have noticed some remarkable changes in the classroom. While a few years ago, in my department, I had a principal who would call me in to discuss a student’s behavior and tell me their new, politically correct definition of unacceptable behavior, not only did they not have the words to explain what behavior was acceptable, they had no clue what the new definition even was. That principal and her department were unaware that their politically-correct, social-emotional thinking was leading to an ineffective learning environment.
I believe that the new, politically correct, social-emotional thinking, which takes the place of critical thinking, is leading to an instruction of “yes,” “no,” and “just so.” As a result, decisions are made by those without knowledge, experience, or any ability to apply logic. Those who take the time to do their homework, engage in extensive research, are creative and problem solvers, understand the importance of teamwork, are goal-oriented, and are able to communicate and collaborate with others are the ones who will make informed decisions. They will be the ones who take responsibility for their own learning.
The second factor that I would like to point out to you, as Christian educators concerned with learning, is that there are no clear and cut guidelines as to what behaviors will be accepted as successful learning. Students are taught to believe that they will be held to a standard of behavior and that failure to conform will result in punishment. However, the reality is that the same standard of behavior, when applied to different individuals, will hold students to different standards of behavior. Some students will be held to higher standards of behavior than other students. Some students will be held to lower standards of behavior than other students. What one teacher may consider acceptable behavior may be considered unacceptable behavior by another teacher.
In our society, we as educators have a responsibility to our student learning. If we are teaching students about good moral character, I believe we are also responsible to teach them about self-respect and self-esteem as well. The bottom line is, that there are no clear cut answers to what are the school laws or our responsibility as instructional leaders. I believe that the research available as well as our responsibility as educational leaders, calls for more research and a more holistic approach to educational issues. Holistic means to address the needs of a student learning system as a whole as well as addressing the individual learning needs of each individual student.