Whether online or in the classroom, students across the nation have either started school or will be soon. The debate on reopening schools is a heated one, with parents and instructors torn over the perceived dangers of COVID-19 infection and the risks posed by online education in a lockdown atmosphere. Some on the left, however, have another concern when it comes to remote learning: How do we continue to indoctrinate the students if parents and other siblings are in the room watching and listening?
A tweet being passed around Facebook by Matthew R. Kay sparks some interesting questions – as well as some deep concerns for conservatives:
“So this fall, virtual class discussions will have many potential spectators – parents, siblings, etc. – in the same room. We’ll never be quite sure who is overhearing the discourse. What does this do for our equity/inclusion work?”
Hold on a minute. Back in the day, parents could volunteer in the classroom, giving homeroom support, but now it is being suggested that the presence of parents is somehow threatening? If what is being taught is accurate and acceptable, it shouldn’t matter who overhears the instruction. This type of talk just presses home an issue weighing on the hearts of many conservatives: what is really going on behind closed doors. What are they teaching our children that they don’t want us to witness?
What Happens in the Classroom Stays in the Classroom
In the same Twitter thread, Kay worried about losing the physical privacy of the classroom to the more open at-home learning situation where others can observe:
“How much have students depended on the (somewhat) secure barriers of our physical classroom to encourage vulnerability? How many of us have installed some version of ‘what happens here stays here’ to help this?”
The Las Vegas reference doesn’t inspire confidence in parents, since it suggests wrongdoing is okay if no one else knows about it. There are sensitive issues that should be shared in privileged conversations between teacher and student, such as if a child reports that he or she is being abused. That’s not something a child will likely blurt out in front of the entire class or type online in an open educational forum. It is important that trusted teachers be resources for children who may be involved in troubling and potentially illegal activities through no fault of their own. Teachers are mandated to take such information to the proper authorities (police or school counselor), not merely to instruct students what they should do next. So, what exactly are teachers discussing that cannot be exposed outside sanctioned classroom walls?
Apparently, race is one topic of concern, along with gender and sexuality. The next comment from Kay:
“While conversations about race are in my wheelhouse, and remain a concern in this no-walls environment – I am most intrigued by the damage that ‘helicopter/snowplow’ parents can do in honest conversations about gender/sexuality … ”
In my day, sex ed was taught in health class and a parent or guardian had to sign a permission slip for or acknowledgment of the topics being covered. Today gender education seems to be part of the all-encompassing goal to make children “woke” to the 73 (or however many) genders. For many parents, this is a can of worms that challenges their understanding and values.
Kay seems critical of what he considers overprotective helicopter parents who bulldoze their way into their children’s lives, whether in academics or other areas. No wonder he is worried about moms and dads who care about what their children are learning being privy to what teachers instruct in the classroom or online.
If teachers are concerned about parents observing classes, it makes one wonder what they plan to teach and what morals and beliefs they are trying to instill. That, by the way, is not their job. School is not the place to groom children but to teach them math, English, science, history, and other academic subjects.
Rather than fearing parents who are within earshot of lesson plans and discussions, Kay and his sympathizers should be enlisting the involvement of caring moms and dads. Encouraging parent-child-teacher interaction is uplifting for all in the equation. Who knows? The parent as well as the student may learn something new and exciting.
Read more from Kelli Ballard.