Friday, March 03, 2006

There Is A Place And Time...

Thirty years plus have passed since I was a high school student. Was I impressionable? You bet. The height of the Viet Nam War was going on. Young men I knew were being drafted (and dying). During the time I spent in classes I remember my teachers at times would deviate from their curriculum. Some teachers were easy to divert, and we students were manipulative enough to cause a diversion. After all who wanted to talk about boring things when you could talk about interesting things such as upcoming sports activities and other social events? Racking my memory, I have not come up with one teacher who deviated from his/her curriculum to talk about the current political events or who spent class time involved in an agenda to promote personal beliefs.

Not one teacher talked about our soldiers being baby killers. In retrospect, looking back on my teachers as an adult, I know that there were more than a couple who literally were biting their tongues off - but they kept their opinions to themselves. Regardless of their private convictions and how they spent their time away from school, they did not abuse their position as a teacher by preaching their beliefs. These teachers wore their beads and their peace signs in private, but left them hanging on their bedposts when they came to school. They were pacifists and attended rallies, of this I have no doubt. But in school, they stuck to the facts as we knew them then according to the government and Walter Kronkite. In other words, they presented both sides of the argument and kept their personal beliefs to themselves.

I remember geography class and the curriculum involved. In fact, as a senior I was a student teacher and assisted teaching this class to sophomores. Geography was a boring class - who could really get excited over land masses and bodies of water after all? Yet, that hippy geography teacher (oh yes, no doubt there - he worked with my Dad on his second job) I assisted never evolved that class of geography into a class of geopolitics to preach his personal beliefs. The political policies of countries whose boundaries were oftentimes determined by the land mass upon which they lay was never discussed. It wouldn't have been proper - politics has nothing to do with geography.

Geography teacher Jay Bennish of Overland High School in Aurora, Colo. has been placed on administrative leave for confusing geography (ge·og·ra·phy n. pl. ge·og·ra·phies 1. The study of the earth and its features and of the distribution of life on the earth, including human life and the effects of human activity. 2. The physical characteristics, especially the surface features, of an area.) with geopolitics (ge·o·pol·i·tics n. (used with a sing. verb) 1. The study of the relationship among politics and geography, demography, and economics, especially with respect to the foreign policy of a nation. 2. 1. A governmental policy employing geopolitics. 2. A Nazi doctrine holding that the geographic, economic, and political needs of Germany justified its invasion and seizure of other lands. 3. A combination of geographic and political factors relating to or influencing a nation or region.)and abusing his position of a teacher to preach his own personal beliefs. He comes off as a pacifist who sees capitalism as a bane to humanity and the US as a power hungry country which exerts it's political agenda by military and monetary influence throughout the world. Bennish can not be faulted his beliefs. It is a free country and he can believe what he chooses. Bennish was wrong to bring those personal beliefs into the classroom and deliver them to his students as part of his curriculum. He refers his students to the definition of capitalism. The closest word in geography to capitalism is the word capital - which is indicative of a city located within a state/country.

Bennish crossed a line. He may be an impassioned teacher - listening to him that is obvious, but his passion which he presented to his students through his opinions was misplaced and misleading. Only his opinion was given in referring to the presence of the US in foreign countries and the purpose behind that presence. Only his opinion caused the mixing of politics with geography. His opinions were challenged by a students father for what they were - political rantings in a class that did not have a basis in politics.

I guess I had good teachers. They refrained from voicing their personal opinions/convictions knowing that I and my fellow classmates were impressionable. They also knew that whatever belief systems we as students had in place was best set by our parents who could reinforce them.

Thanks to Stop the ACLU

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posted by Is It Just Me? at 8:19 AM