A few people in my life have sent me links similar to this one over the past few days, wanting to know what I thought of it. Should she be applauded for sharing her working conditions with a larger audience? Did she go too far, or was she too candid? Is this a free speech issue? Is it ever okay for a teacher to publicly say “I hate your kid” (warning: video)?
As much as Natalie Munroe wants to believe that her words were only “for her friends and family,” once she put them on public blog posts that weren’t password-protected, they became available for mass consumption. Was that a mistake? I believe so, absolutely. Even before I gained full-time employment in teaching, even before I started blogging under my own name, I would never have written down the words she did, much less have posted them publicly (not that I have had her experiences, or her thoughts). As a woman with two children, like Ms. Munroe, I find it incredibly reckless to endanger her employment this way.
Also, I believe she fell into the common trap of writing on the Internet: it’s so easy to believe that your words are just winging out there, instantly lost in the incredible stream of words that are produced every minute on websites in dozens of languages. It’s easy to imagine that no one you know will ever read it, that you can be anonymous and safely shielded, that your words will never be read by anyone you don’t want to read them, much less the target of the words. Even though it’s been years now that people have lost their jobs due to blogging, everyone wants to think it won’t happen to them.
Do I think she should lose her job? I think it will be impossible for her to successfully teach in her current school district, where surely every student and parent will know who she is. But more importantly, I think she owes it to herself and her students to think clearly and carefully about whether she wants to continue teaching. I have always believed that teaching is a vocation, and should not be undertaken lightly, and that miserable teachers are no help to anyone, including themselves.
Are teachers human, with all the foibles and impaired judgment that sometimes entails? Of course. But we hold a great responsibility to our students and our communities, and that, we should not forget.
- Teacher stands by personal blog despite media controversy (inquisitr.com)
- “Natalie Munroe Defends Blog Despite Controversy” and related posts (news.lalate.com)
- Pa. teacher strikes nerve with ‘lazy whiners’ blog (philly.com)