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Taboos. Who may see what? What's okay to share with students?
Ideas, yes. What about childhood experiences? Creative writing?
An exploration: me the teacher, me the writer, boundaries..

OCTOBER 26, 2006

TABOOS - WHO MAY SEE WHAT?
SOME THOUGHTS FROM ME-THE-TEACHER

I teach. There's nothing I am writing that is sexually explicit. There's nothing that incites to violence, terrorism, prejudice. There's no nudity. No terrible secrets are revealed. And yet I go, what is appropriate for students? Is this too personal?

I don't mean, should this stay off the web and unpublished.

But I have students look at the occasional piece. I have wondered, is this safe to show, when I wrote about the rage of the self-proclaimed righteous, talking about the many Muslims outraged at a cartoon while not outraged at Muslim violence. But in that case a colleague worried for my safety, and my partner too would have preferred if I wrote the same things under another name.

The taboos I am thinking of here are different.

Last night there was a news clip on a high school teacher who, in the 1970's, sweet-talked (and wined and dined) about two dozen of his students into having sex with him. He was sorry, knew he had crossed a line. But it was only a decade later that laws were passed prohibiting teachers to have sexual relations with underage students, so according to him, he had done nothing illegal. (He did not mention the two cases, according to the charges, where former students alleged the sex was not consensual.)

His line is one I would not want ever to get near - not because he ever had sex with a student. I know some teachers and students truly fall for each other - with Abelard and Heloise being a famous duo from history. But this teacher set up situations in order to manipulate students into having sex with him, situations in which they found it hard to say no, even when inside themselves they were often saying no. Plus not only was he a manipulative user (telling the students - every one of them, one after the other - that they were special, pushing them to get drunk, and so on), but he was their teacher, in a power position, and using that leverage as well.

That teacher crossed lots of lines - lines to do with caring, consideration, respect, fairness, justice (even if at the time he rarely cossed a legal line).

Back to my own taboos. They're far from his.

Some of my general taboos have to do with revealing anything that might smack of weakness. That has been a lifelong thing. Somehow very early I learned that, in fundamental ways, it was okay for others to be weak, outsiders, shy, and so on, but I had to be strong, be able to withstand, not care. It was not fair to others to reveal otherwise or be otherwise - plus I had better watch out, or they would use the information against me, mainly to make fun of me, which would of course only put me further outside.

"Keep a still upper lip." A British phrase from the nineteenth century - but pretty applicable to me.

I'm not the person I was as a child. Yet some of the old taboos still linger.

At the very least, I hesitate: how far is it okay to invite students in?

I do talk of many experiences in my classes - those experiences (briefly told) fit with the course material, and I've had students say that some of those stories are what they most remember from the classes. But the stories are generally from the "fine for everyone to know" part of me (a part which has expanded over the years).

Years ago, I was struck by an article by a teacher, in which she described how her teaching became much more effective once she included her own experiences.

Another teacher has just come to mind - very different. She would not even let students know her religion, or any of her opinions, so as not to influence them.

I have no trouble letting students know my beliefs and opinions. In fact, my belief is that I'm there to help them think as well as possible, and part of it is through showing how I back my opinions. In other words, if you can come up with better arguments, great, that way I can learn.

Experiences are different, for me.

The question is: which experiences have a place in the classroom?

So I am somewhere near where I started - unsure of what I think fits for students to read about me (and so know about me) within the context of a class. (Published stuff, not mentioned in a class, is something else - it's available to the whole world).

But I'm also not quite where I was at the start of this piece - because I have written about my thoughts, my wondering, my hesitations, and am sending my thoughts out to you - to you if you're a teacher, and to everyone who reads this, because we've all been students.

What are your thoughts and experiences re this?

As always, welcome into my world.

signed,

Elsa

OCTOBER 10 , 2006

copyright © Elsa Schieder 2006, 2011
publishing house - FlufferDuff Impressions 2006, 2011

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- Elsa's creativity blog -

Taboos. Who may see what? What's okay to share with students? Ideas, yes. What about childhood experiences? Creative writing? Elsas Creativity Blog explores:
me the teacher, me the writer, boundaries..

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For those of you wondering, just what is Elsa's creativity blog about?


elsas creativity blog
is not the same as elsas creativity log - a jotting down of events, of time spent

elsas creativity blog
is not a hop and stop
     tip top mop shop pop drop
elsas creativity blog
     is elsas creativity blog
     is elsas creativity blog

but what is elsas creativity blog?

elsas creativity blog
     is stop and start
          on and off
       trying
       doing
       ever renewing
                    elsas creativity blog
                    elsas creativity blog
     is not a dog
                 log
                 fog
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                 groggy old nodding off creativity blob
     is a wide awake
         revving up
         ever making up stuff
                 elsas creativity blog

elsas creativity blog -
     a short stop to bring you along
                           as I'm making up the site
                           feeling my way
                           like a jungle explorer
                           creepers and crawlers every which way
                           how to get through the day?
                           I couldn't say
that's elsas creativity blog

where does it come from?
where des it go?
elsas creativity blog doesn't know

it records the words elsa writes
it stays the course
it blogs all night
it's delighted to be blogging
         leap frogging
                  over words
                  over muddles
                  over huddles
                           of word lugging trouble
                  over word puddles
                  and into word puddles

elsas creativity blog
         elsas creativity blog
                  elsas creativity blog
                      is a blog by elsa
                            on creative endeavors
                      is elsa's trying
                            once more vying
                                   to reach the world
                                        let words unfurl
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                                        let them blog into the sunset
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                       is a faithful old horse
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                         it blop blop blogs
                                 a faithful old horse
                                     stopping now and then in its course
                                          to chew its cud
                                              letting ideas bud
                                     and then blogging alone
                                          blogging along
                                              clip clop blip blop

                         elsas creativity blog
                             elsas creativity blog
                                      elsas creativity blog



                                                                                    
 Elsa Schieder
                                                                                      July 9, 2006
                                                                                      © Elsa Schieder, 2006

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