#250 – Trawling the Classroom

For a host of reasons, teachers shouldn’t use their classrooms as trawling grounds for dates with attractive parents. From an ethics perspective, a teacher pursuing an amorous relationship with a student’s mother or father creates an undesired perception of favoritism toward the student. In terms of child psychology, no student wants to suffer embarrassment from classmates’ taunts due to his teacher’s romantic targeting of his parent. And from the educational system’s standpoint, kids nowadays have a hard enough time learning without having to deal with teachers distracted by efforts to score a new stepchild from the student pool. While most people, including educators, recognize and agree with these concerns, a few require a kick in the ass to properly reorient their moral compasses. Take Mr. Rogers, for instance.

Mr. Rogers (that’s his name, really) is my mentee’s long-term substitute. He’s filling in for Ernie’s regular teacher while she recuperates from an emergency surgical procedure. In the meantime, the substitute has added a new item to the third-grade core curriculum: namely, his pursuit of Ernie’s single mother. Mr. Rogers met her the day she returned her son to school after the boy’s unwarranted expulsion last week.

As my mentee related at our session today, Mr. Rogers lost no time in soliciting Ernie’s aid for courting purposes. In the process, the man’s actions highlighted each of the concerns against teacher-parent dating. Immediately upon Ernie’s return to class, the new substitute teacher interrupted his lesson plan to question the lad, within hearing of the other students, about his mother’s availability and potential interest. Mr. Rogers also offered to provide one-on-one tutoring at Ernie’s home, and perhaps to stay for dinner afterwards. After this public interrogation, my mentee’s classmates began taunting him with renditions of “Ernie’s mom and Mr. Rogers sitting in a tree, k.i.s.s.i.n.g. …”

Mr. Rogers sounds like a world-class douchebag, and an ethically challenged one to boot! Unfortunately for him, he picked the wrong kid to screw with for the sake of a date. Ernie told me that after two days of similar misconduct from the substitute and teasing from his peers, he’d had enough. When Mr. Rogers outright begged him to investigate his mother’s interest in dating her son’s teacher, the exasperated boy responded with a firm: “Fuck No!”

According to Ernie, Mr. Rogers initially reacted to his student’s off-color, impudent exclamation by threatening a trip to the Principal’s office and severe disciplinary action. Ernie deemed a visit to the Principal an excellent idea, and said so, explaining (in third-grade English of course) how he’d love to discuss the school’s policy on a teacher using classroom time to pursue a relationship with a parent. 

Ernie didn’t go to the Principal that day or otherwise get punished for his unsavory outburst. Best of all, since resetting the substitute’s moral compass, he hasn’t heard another word about his mother’s romantic inclinations.

Like its physical counterpart, a moral compass should always point north.

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