Saturday, January 27, 2007

Is This A Legitimate Reason To Fire A Teacher?

YONKERS, N.Y. - A teacher has been barred from classes for having his seventh-grade students draw male genitalia on the blackboard during health class, school officials say...

Pierorazio said the teacher opened a lesson on human anatomy and sexuality by asking students in a class of boys and girls to volunteer to come to the board to draw male anatomy.

I'll admit, at first glance it sounds kind of weird to me, but anything can sound weird or inappropriate when taken out of context. The superintendent is going to ask board members to fire the teacher.


Anonymous said...

As I recall, when I took Biology in ninth grade, we had a unit (no pun intended....) where we had to draw and label parts of the male and female reproductive system. I think it's part of the curriculum. And I would think in a Sex Ed class, that might be part of the course. I am not a liberal, but I am a realist. If kids can't even discuss the body parts, identify them and use the proper names, then what the heck is the reason for having the class? It's not like it's condoms on bananas.

Anonymous said...

Being a teacher who has had a situation taken completely out of context, and a parent go straight to the principal rather than ask me about it, I am not quick to judge. I also remember labeling sex organs in seventh grade science. (Not sure if we drew them freehand.....)

Mike said...

It is certainly valuable to realize that in these situations we don't fully understand the context, nor do we likely have all of the facts. That said, any teacher trying to, in any way, defend having kids draw penises on the blackboard, for any reason, is fighting an uphill battle.

I wonder if anyone would think that being asked to draw breasts or vulvae would be as problematic? Less? More?
One could construct a reasonable defense of illustrations of genitalia in a health textbook. Texts are, after all, purchased by and approved by the school district and as such, have a presumptive validity. School districts are virtually certain to defend a teacher using their approved materials, or at worst, will not be likely to try to punish a teacher for using approved materials (even while they may be quietly removing them from school shelves, never to see the light of day again). But in this case, I suspect this unfortunate teacher will be thrown overboard with record speed.

Despite whatever good this teacher might have thought he was doing, we all need to remember that in many ways, we must do our work to the most conservative standard prevailing in our districts. We may not agree with this reality, but it is reality nonetheless, and we ignore it at our peril.

Should this teacher be fired? Based only on the information in this post, probably not. But he should learn the necessary lessons from this experience.

rightwingprof said...

From what little I've heard (details have been very sketchy), this sounds ridiculous -- though I can't say that I would have asked students to draw pictures of anything on the board, much less genitalia.