07 October 2008

Indoctrination

Many blogs (including this one) linked to a video this past week that showed children, with a deer-in-the-headlights stare, singing an ode to Barack Obama. This week we hear (see link to title or enclosure link) that the VA teachers' union is encouraging its teachers to wear their support for Obama on 'Obama blue day (who came up with that nonsense I'd like to know), to wear buttons supporting the Obama campaign and to encourage students to vote for Obama (a tactic truly aimed at the parents since the majority of students would be below voting age). In other news, a teacher was suspended in Kansas City for teaching underage students to chant for Barack Obama while wearing BDU pants and black shirts.

I teach part-time both as an adjunct and as a TA while I work on a Ph.D. Aside from one time where I forgot I had a button on, I've learned not to discuss my politics with my students, wear campaign material, etc. I work with adults, who are more than able to make up their own minds, but since I hold a position that has some power over those students, it would be inappropriate of me to try to influence them in any way. A teacher's union, by definition, is for teachers of children who are not college-age yet. The very age group they're involved with, gives these teachers far more power and influence over their students. A truly excellent teacher in these age groups can change a student's life. A poor one can ruin at least that year if not more. Public attempts to indoctrinate young children and students into blind political support crosses the line in ways these students won't know about or think about for years.

I must admit to a personal bias. I have some lovely nieces and nephews living in VA, who could be subjected to this nonsense were their teachers to participate. I would no more want their teachers to indoctrinate them into supporting McCain. It's a wholly inappropriate role for a teacher to indoctrinate children into ANY thinking. Teaching of doctrine is for parents and those whom parents designate (e.g., a pastor or rabbi). If my own child were to come home singing political songs, I would be moving to sue the teacher. I certainly hope parents in VA do.

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