16 May 2007

Just Push Play

There's a school board policy here about the films used as instructional materials in classrooms. If the film hasn't been approved by the Instructional Materials Committee or if it does not come from the media center's library, then teachers need to have parent permission for a student to view the film. As you might imagine, many teachers disregard the policy, but it's really there for their protection. This is, after all, public education and there are all kinds of family backgrounds feeding into the system. If a teacher is absolutely sure that a film is the only way (or the best way) for students to be exposed to the concept---then s/he can have it adopted as an instructional material and parent permission is no longer needed. (Mind you, R or X rated films can never be used.)

I've had to fight this battle a bit with teachers this spring. Three of our junior high schools had teachers who wanted to show "An Inconvenient Truth." They felt it was important material and, indeed, it was quite relevant to their curriculum. Two of the schools grudgingly followed board policy. The third didn't...and then had the gall to make fun of the other schools. I had another teacher say recently that he'll start doing the permission slips if he ever gets caught. He will have no Union backup if that happens, but oh well.

Now, none of the teachers I know are silly enough Brokeback Mountain, as this teacher did; but the case illustrated in the article could just as easily happen here. We may not agree on a personal level with all of the various "family values" which walk through our classroom doors each day. They do, however, deserve our respect.

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