Bad Teacher

Terrible movie, by the way. Teacher stereotypes galore.

I’m sensing a theme this week.  I want to talk about teachers today.  Both of my parents were teachers.  Dad taught history and social studies; mom taught choir.  I married a teacher.  My father-in-law, equipped with a doctorate from Columbia University, was a teacher of logic and philosophy.  I grew up in a culture of valuing education and learning and applying yourself to academics.  There was never any question about me going to college.  My mom made it very clear to me, “First a degree.  Then marriage.”  Got it.  Did it. 

I’m not saying that this is the life for everyone.  You have to know who you are and where you’re going, something of your God-given destiny.  Both my kids know this.  I am saying that education is valuable.  Getting a degree in anything pretty much makes you more marketable for whatever you want to do in this life, jobwise.  You learn much more in college than the things attached to your field of study. Having several degrees, and/or advanced degrees, increases your chances of landing your dream job in the career or goal you’re pursuing.

Yet it’s important to remember that teachers are people, too.  One of the many reasons Jonathon got out of teaching in 2005 is that the expectations on teachers became too great.  He was asked to teach a class called Character.  He was supposed to teach about ethics and morality.  Can I mention he had a B.S. and an M.A., a teaching degree in music education? Hello?  He balked.  The curriculum was lame, but aside from that, character begins at home.  By the time you hit the end of grade school, studies show, your character is cooked.  It’s cemented. 

I hit upon this story on msn.com. You can read it here.  James Hooker (unfortunate name), 41, left his wife and family for Jordan Powers, 18-year-old senior at Enochs High in Modesto, CA. James Hooker was her teacher there. It’s shocking.  It’s not something that happens every day and it makes me think of the Police song…

What you need to know is this has been going on forever.  Men leave their wives for younger women every day of the year. And the actual police are investigating this case.  Yes, it’s wrong.  We had a teacher friend of ours, while we lived in Creswell, who was accused of molesting a band student of his.  He was fired, jailed and lost his family.  Were the accusations true?  We’ll never know.  But he’ll never teach again.  His career is over. 

This man, Mr. Hooker, resigned after being put on leave.  He says Jordan was no longer a minor by the time their “relationship” started.  Could be.  For the record, if that’s true, the police will  have very little to throw at  Mr. Hooker. He says he’s looking for a job in the private sector.  Good thinking. 

Think for a moment.  If Mr. Hooker was anyone else, would there be this much scrutiny?  If he was just a guy who worked at that company or that store, what would we say?  “How weird.  He seemed normal enough.” We would say that she needed a daddy and he needed a younger model. And we would forget about it, just a blip, possibly in the news.  We hold teachers to a higher standard.  They must be coach, cheerleader, moral compass, fount of all knowledge on their subject matter and above reproach.  We expect perfection. In short, nuns and priests. 

Jonathon mentioned reading about the teacher at PS 22, which I believe is a public grade school in New York.  Here’s a clip.  It’s hard to remember they’re just little kids.

What you don’t know know is that this teacher, though amazing, has no life.  This is all he does.  When asked what else he did with his free time he said, “What do you mean?”  And that’s the ideal teachers are supposed to emulate.  Yes, the choir is very good.  However, It’s not fair, this “give it all for your kids” standard.

With my intimate knowledge of teachers, I can safely say they are none of these perfect paragons.  At times, they approach them.  They struggle just like the rest of us.  I am not defending Mr. Hooker or even Mary Kay LeTourneau.  I am saying sometimes there’s more to the story than we know.  We need to be praying for these who educate our young and influence their lives. There but for the grace of God go I.