How to ‘Educate’ an Educator

March 22, 2005

At Le Moyne College’s school of education, students (future educators) are ironically “educated” that they should shut up or get shut out. Le Moyne’s administrators and faculty might find it helpful to get pointers about what they should have done instead of dismissing Scott McConnell out of the blue for a paper expressing some personal beliefs they found objectionable. A director of teacher education at a university in Canada wrote in to share his experience with similar issues:

I am quite aware that many members of our Faculty have pressed to have students dismissed from the programme for no better reason than that the students have expressed their dissent from the faculty members’ “progressive” attitudes on sexual orientation, affirmative action, inclusion, etc. They base their arguments on extreme interpretations of the provincial teachers’ code of professional conduct, but I have been able to resist their demands as long as the students are performing responsibly in their practicum placements. Even in these cases, however, I have encountered faculty members with axes to grind seeking to influence who will supervise those practicum placements in order to “catch” the student out.

My own inclination in the Le Moyne case would be to speak with the student to ensure that he understood the policies of the public schools on the matter of corporal punishment and his responsibilities under those policies. Were I satisfied that, despite his personal dissent from those policies, he would be able to abide by them and practice effectively in a school, I would (I hope) resist the pressure from faculty for dismissal.

Did educators at Le Moyne consider that actually talking to a student about his understanding of school policies and teacher responsibilities should precede punishment, such as expulsion, for merely expressing an “interesting” viewpoint in an essay? Did they consider “performing responsibly in their practicum placements” as a criterion for evaluating the “risk” of granting credentials to a future educator?

As someone who recently graduated from a master of education program myself, I continue to be thoroughly perturbed that a school of education would react to an individual with dissenting viewpoints by kicking him out without even at least engaging him in a conversation. What makes Le Moyne believe it can effectively train responsible teachers if the school itself does not know how to treat its own students with responsibility, respect, and dignity?

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Schools:  Le Moyne College