Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Touch of Your Hand

A world of touch...physical reality...This is the world I live in...solid...the way I perceive solid...I am aware of that....A solid reality where..no matter how I try to always focus on what is beautiful..or just even vainly pleasant...I am confronted more often with scenes that leave a faint stench of malice...in my eyes....

Who is a teacher? What is a teacher? What is the teacher?

I shirk at the sound of being called one...Teacher..Teacher..Teacher...a divine word......The greatest of men where called teachers...Dare I line myself with them?...When I walk the streets..people know me..they greet..they smile...Ah'..there walks the teacher...see her walk..see her smile..see her wave...

In this corner of our world..the word teacher is still...in a special way revered....looked up to...like...like..you are some guru..some...special someone who has the answers..like a walking breathing hope...like...light...There is power in the word teacher...oh' yes..there is....

And if..if...you are a person...needing of affection..needing of attention...needing of esteem...needing..needing..inside...the idea of standing in front of a class of adoring children...the very thought of leading young ones who could be so idolizing of you...who hang on to your every word..is the most intoxicating..high.....This is what I am afraid of!!!..

No...Not for me...I fear for others...for those who are not aware of themselves...for those who handle children and think..that..those children are theirs...like they have a take on their affection..like..like...they have a right to hold..to touch....put an arm over?...

I am in a dilemma you see...the physics teacher is popular...gels with the teenagers...hangs around with them beyond class hours...treats them as buddy buddies....He is somewhat of a close acquaintance of mine..I can't say friend really....but I have....err...had a respect for his dedication in school..until yesterday...

I walked into the classroom and found him holding a 15 year old girls hand..and this girl was almost sitting on the side of his leg...gawd..I wish I could demonstrate to you all....The thing is..they weren't alone...a lot of other teenagers were with him giggling and fooling around in the classroom. My unexpected entry left them stunned.

I feel this teacher is overly friendly to make it seem that being touched in the hand..in the arm...is academically (?) acceptable...If I confront him I am sure he would say he was merely acting like an affectionate 48 year old dad...weird...I have this zinging weird feeling all around me..

I haven't done anything about this yet..I still need to think..

Am I wrong in my assumptions?....

Am I malicious in thought?.....

am I...am I..am I?

I've never been faced with something like this before.....

( picture from: www.GalleryOne.com by Steve Hanks)


13 comments:

SJ said...

I would say someone has to keep on eye on him. When he moves beyond "affectionate" we never may know.

Lady Lux said...

..sigh!..and the eye is me...

K9 said...

/bark bark bark

its weird. a grown man has no business touching a fifteen year old. even if its innocent it is not appropriate. but your response is a gut level response. i trust it. i trust you!

/grrr

Sue said...

What you saw is not an appropriate way for a male teacher to be acting with one of his pupils. He should know this, know his boundaries, and I think he has crossed the line. If he does this in front of others, what would he do when others are not there?

It sounds like you're not the sort of person who can turn a blind eye to this, and I think the least you should do is keep a close watch on him. Sorry Lux.

BTW. Thank you for your kind words on my blog. :)

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm- I'm with the pooch in regards to trusting you- and trusting your instinct.

At 17 I trusted a man- a role model- who was in his 30's. Things were not as innocent as I thought.

My counselor in high school- who listened to me- and in truth loved me, through the most difficult season of my life- never touched me- ever.
A few years later, seeing him at a ball game, with my husband in toe- he hugged me. He was so happy to see that all had turned out well.

A teacher can touch a heart and guide a life without ever putting their hands on a student. This guy might be a wonderful man- serious in his devotion to his students, but for his own sake, he should avoid such intimate behavior.
I'm sorry you are in this difficult position- and thankful in knowing you will keep your eyes open.

Anonymous said...

I see my rushed comment from this morning didn't make it. There is no reason for any teacher to be touching any student especially at the what we call high school level (teen years). Perhaps a friendly pat on the back for a job well done. But really not even that anymore. Too many touches can be misconstrued. Best policy...hands off.
Now I teach 1st through 5th grades. These children come up and hug on their teachers. esp. the really young ones. I get plenty of hugs on a daily basis and I usually pat them back.

Enemy of the Republic said...

I just updated you on my blog. Your old site is odd. So you went beta too. Sorry I'm not commenting much on the post. Thanks for your visits.

Lady Lux said...

...Mayden said: " a teacher can touch a heart and guide a life a life without ever putting their hands on their student..."

I say: exactly..I will use those words you have given me when I speak to him tomorrow...I as supposed to today, but something came up...I think he's somewhat nervous around me..

Schaumel: True!..the best policy is a hands off policy...but I do love the hugs that 5 year olds give me too!..:))

K9: thanks for saying that you trust me..gave me the courage to speak up..and to trust myself to say the right thing..

Sue: that's it..Imagine..he's 48..he can't claim not to know his boundaries...so..let's say he's a naturally touchy person....gawd..you are sooo right...what if he's alone with a student..and infact..somebody did see him alone with a student...sigh..sigh..sigh...I'm not just going to keep a close watch..I'm letting him know that I AM watching him...clooosely..yaah!

EOTR: Welcome..welcome!..Your always welcome to be here...I love reading up on you..I hope your smiling!..

X. Dell said...

First off, I'm not sure about the social mores of your area, Lux. But if someone had caught me holding one of the student's hands, I would be brought before the Provost. Since I was just an adjunct asst. professor (small fry in academia), I probably would have been booted out, if not immediately, then after the semester.

On my first teaching job, I had a moral turpitude clause in my contract that prohibited me from engaging romantically with any of my students. At my subsequent teaching jobs, I had no such clause in my contract, but I still acted as if there were.

Call it habit. Call it politics. The sexual harrasment policy at the school was murky and bizarre. Any student could charge a faculty member with sexual harrassment at any time. Male instructors began to distrust their female students. They wouldn't confer with them privately, anymore.

At the same time, our school (as you might expect because of the lack of a turpitude clause in the contract) faced a serious problem with some of the senior tenured faculty sexually harrassing students (to my knowledge, these were all female students, and all male professors). Because of their tenure, they were never fired.

I am actually a firm believer in the Socratic method of teaching. As a student, I learned far more from my favorite professor when he called out of the blue and said, "Wanna play chess? Grab a six-pack on your way over," than I ever learned from him in class. As a teacher, I've been able to explore a nubmer of phenomenal things with both male and female students outside of the classroom, some of whom became my friends--a few still are to this day.

And I would be loath to think of what someone would have thought had they walked in on me and a student at certain moments of my career. I had one student, for instance, bursting into tears over a family situation. It was instinctual, but she put her head on my sholders and made my sleeves wet. I didn't have the heart to push her away, either, because I believed that she'd have felt horrible had I done so. I know. That's taking a big chance. I don't think I dare do that again if I could help it. But sometimes humans act like humans. And often, things aren't what they seem.

I guess what I'm saying is that the situation that you described looked bad, and merits a further investigation--especially if the female student is only fifteen (were there male students in the room too?).

If your instincts say that there is something wrong here, then they are probably correct. You're not in an easy situation here, as you well know. If you go to your principal, there will be consequences. If you don't do anything, there will also be consequences.

But I don't see where you have many options. I think you really have to notify your administration right away. As you described the scene, there might not be anything to this (hopefully not). But you must be very sure that someone with authority knows that touching is part of this teacher's method.

This situation is even more delicate because the students might construe a charge against this teacher as a charge against them. They may thus feel defensive and not tell you candidly what all goes on in (and out of) his classroom. You might have to find some way to convince them that you are truly on their side.

Hliza said...

Lux, you scared me! I thought I've lost you forever.. your link had changed!

Tab said...

Listen to your instincts..they are there for a good reason Lux.

Lady Lux said...

Tab: Welcome!..yes...I did listen to my instincts...

Hliza: Sorry it took this long...I'm having a difficulty postin comments on blogs..took me a long time to get through yours..welcome!

X DELL: I read..took into consideration your point of view..finally decided that I had to have this settled..I spoke to the teacher...I spoke to the administrator..I don't want to creat a ruckus..or bad blood among my co teachers..but I can't take the risk when it comes to kids...If I don't do anything and something tragic happens..then I would be part of the blame for not acting...not speaking out...Thank you for your comments...bolstered me to speak out...

X. Dell said...

Please keep us posted as to how this develops.