The folks in one northern Michigan community can rest easy because it’s clear their high school computer teacher is on the ball. Last week in the computer lab, a student who completed his video production assignment killed time by surfing the Internet on a school computer. But the teacher (unnamed in news stories) caught a glimpse of the screen and put a stop to the student’s consumption of vile and vulgar Internet content.
Just what despicable Web site was the young man viewing? Here’s fair warning before you read on … consider sending the children out of the room or at least shielding their eyes. He was reading Foxnews.com.
According to reports, when the student, a senior, was caught scanning headlines on Foxnews.com the teacher publicly berated and belittled him for reading the “wrong” news.
Thank goodness there are teachers like this all across America, protecting our children from the dangerous influences of the Internet.
I assume, based on the student’s reported comments, that the teacher would not have reacted similarly had the young man been reading headlines at MSNBC.com, but that’s conjecture on my part. Theoretically, though, since Fox News was deemed the “wrong” news, another outlet would be viewed as the “right” news. As in correct. As in left.
But let’s not confuse the important point here, which is that a teenager was reading the news. Any news. News that was not a sports score or a story about “Brangelina” or the week in review on “American Idol.”
No, this teenager – soon to be a high school graduate heading for the real world, or at least the college version of it – decided to surf the entire World Wide Web not for a mindless YouTube video or a dirty joke site, but for news. Current events. World affairs.
That a teacher would discourage such an activity in any way, shape or form is beyond disconcerting – it’s truly incompetent.
According to a recent survey of 65,000 teens by USA Weekend magazine, only 18 percent of teens read newspapers. A third of those teens said they don’t read the paper because it’s too boring. The majority said they can’t be bothered because they’re too busy. Getting teens to pay attention to the news in any format is a crucial educational goal.
This is why it’s noteworthy that this particular teen chose to spend his extra time in class reading the news on a legitimate news site, and that doing so earned him the unwelcome attention and inappropriate admonition of his teacher.
It would be a lot to ask of teachers that they become apolitical beings upon walking in the front doors of their schools; that they keep their personal opinions to themselves in service to the impressionable young minds entrusted to their professional care. But that is exactly what we parents must ask of our teachers, and more vocally than ever before. The classroom podium is not a bully pulpit from which to decree one’s political point of view as fact.
The instructor in question should have applauded his student for using his time to read the news – ANY news – and if he thought a teachable moment existed, may have encouraged the lad to read similar stories on the same topic from a number of competing Web sites to see what differences in tone or presentation the student might have discovered.
That’s what a good teacher might have done, but clearly, that’s not the sort who was on duty in this particular classroom last week.
Copyright 2009 Marybeth Hicks