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Would Paying Teachers More Prevent This?

Once again I am thinking we need to pay teachers more money because we are definitely not attracting enough of the best and the brightest to this critical profession. Consider the following:

My son’s ninth grade English class is reading the short story The Most Dangerous Game. His teacher asserts as fact that the view that human life is more valuable than animal life is erroneous. In fact, this is the view of the villain of the story so it must be wrong. My son objects stating that he believes human life is more valuable than animal life. He told me he didn’t want to get in to the fact that humans have a soul and animals don’t so he just put forth that humans have an intellect and can choose right from wrong (free will) and animals do not. His teacher then put this idea up to a class vote. Of course, since she had already said this position was in error, not a single student agreed with my son. She then pointed to this lack of support as evidence that my son must be wrong. My son stood firm and told her that his faith taught that human life is more valuable than animal life. She then dismissed him with a “Fine. Believe what you want. I don’t want your parents emailing me to complain.”

There is so much wrong on so many levels with this scenario. First of all, declaring that values are voted on to determine their veracity is absurd. Secondly, subjecting a student to this kind of public scrutiny is insensitive at best and cruel at worst. Obviously, this teacher has no interest in diverse opinions and rational discourse. She seems more interested in indoctrination than in education. After seeing the ridicule my son endured, do you think many students will step forward to disagree with her in the future? I do believe she may have sensed that she had crossed the line of propriety because she pointedly told my son she didn’t want to hear from his parents about this.

The incident obviously bothered my son because he brought the subject up with me. I told him I am very proud of him for standing firm in his principles. He told me that he couldn’t believe one thing during English class and something else the rest of the day. I know this test will strengthen him for future trials, but I still think a good teacher would not have created such a situation.

UPDATE: I did follow up with the teacher. You can read about it here.


frival said…
First, you're absolutely right to be proud of him - I don't think I'd have had the gumption to correct my teacher at just about any age. A wise and brave soul you're raising.

Second, from talking to people who have gone through early childhood ed. degrees in recent years you shouldn't be surprised that this teacher crosses the line between education and indoctrination - it's how they're being taught to do things in college. We often think the "classic" liberal arts programs have some of the worst bias issues but talking to people who have gone through teaching degrees it's the teachers' classes that are the worst.
Barb, sfo said…
Time to talk to the English department head, I think. Or is that the same teacher?

Frival is absolutely right about teacher training, etc.

But would paying teachers more prevent this? I don't know. This teacher may be very bright. Her methods are bad, but that doesn't make her "not bright." You just do not put opinion up to a class vote like that.
Peter Brown said…
Two points:

#1: You might want to check with the teacher to check your son's version of the sequence of events. We've had a couple of instances where our children said the teacher did something that made no instructional sense whatever to us (both professors). Sometimes investigation bears out the child's account; sometimes it doesn't. What you relate doesn't sound like a misunderstanding, but there's no charity in failing to hear the teacher's side.

#2: If the sequence of events checks out, then your boy stood up like a man and a Catholic. Good for him, and praise God!

David Jackson said…
Please make sure he knows Uncle David and Aunt Kathy are very proud of him.
Michelle said…
good for him. and good job, mom.
Jim said…
Way to go Young Hunnell. Don't take any crap from these left-wing teachers of yours. Now tomorrow come into class wearing an NRA t-shirt with a Virginia Deer Hunting License pinned on the front of it. There's nothing quite like making a statement in silence.
Jim said…
My sister-in-law, a teacher, mentioned a web site that affords students and parents alike the opportunity to publicly evaluate teachers. The web site is called (And yes, teachers may respond on the web site to the evaluations that they receive from their students and others.)

I can't help but think that teachers would be far less inclined to improperly force-feed their political beliefs to their students if they realized that the public was, to some degree, being made aware of what was going on in their classrooms.
Panda Rosa said…
I don't quite agree that "animals have no souls" but on so much else this is a post to think about.
Catholic Mom said…
Panda Rosa,

The teaching of the Catholic Church is there are three significant differences between man and animals: (1)man has a soul and animals do not (2)man has an intellect and can discern right from wrong (3)man has free will to choose right from wrong. As part of God's creation animals are to be respected as a matter of good stewardship.They should not be afforded the same priority as humans.(CCC 2416-2418)
Scott said…
My prayers are with your brave son! I love animals, but the recent assault is not about increasing animals in the natural order, but degrading Man.
Jim said…
I'm glad reference was made to Paragraph # 2418 of The Catechism of the Catholic Church. I don't think I have read that particular paragraph since Trouble, Leona Helmsley's dog, required the services of both an accountant and a tax attorney with probate experience.
FJ said…
I'm with Panda Rosa. I didn't think animals had souls, but an orthodox priest told me recently that they do indeed have souls. The difference with animals and man is that when animals die, so do their souls, while man's soul lives forever.
Wow--that is scary. I'm glad your son talked this over with you, so that you had a chance to make it a learning experience.

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