6:00 AM EST, November 4, 2012
In response to Jean Marbella ("Just who's 'teaching' gay marriage?" Oct. 31), I would point out that in a teacher-student relationship, teaching happens actively and passively. If the idea of "values" has been taught, and there is the expectation that the teacher will identify evil values from good, then some kind of active and passive communication applying values will be given on relevant topics as needed. I cannot imagine a literature analysis course being taught without active and passive values analysis and judgment given to the characters in the books. So when in elementary school, the class reads, "Heather has two mommies," values will be examined and assigned.
Teachers do not teach as values neutral agents regarding human behavior choices just because something seems to be simply "a choice" without harm to another. When teachers give tests, they do not remain values neutral if a student pulls out a cheat sheet during the test. Using the cheat sheet is just a choice of response to the test, and brings no harm to any others, right? But teachers, at least the ones I know of, do not allow such personal choices. Instead, they address that response — a response that does not interfere with anyone else's "values response" — as unacceptable.
I am in schools 95 percent of the days they open. I see what students actively and passively infer about protocols, behavior and values. And if the teacher says nothing, or does nothing regarding a particular behavior, they infer that it is acceptable. Teachers know this and consciously attach values once they realize that if they are passive, then a student might default to a wrong value. Nor do they present what is against community standards of morality as simply another student choice to be made among many. Hence dress codes. No one teaches accounting and then suggests as possible career choices, both accountant and embezzler as values neutral equivalent choices.
Students (and parents) expect teachers to identify whatever is inappropriate, evil, sinful, or bad — choose your vocabulary according to your values. They know that they are teaching "citizenship" as well. If the law makes homosexual marriage legal, then as good "citizens," the school curriculum will quickly change to follow that mandate. If homosexual marriage becomes law, it will not be taught as a norm — as a "good" value. And when the essay question of, "Your homosexual friend lives with his lover, and they want to adopt a child. What would you advise him about doing this?" comes along, there will be only one acceptable answer.
Copyright © 2013, The Baltimore Sun