January 17, 2022
I became a teacher 15 years ago because of the many teachers and coaches who cared enough about me to have serious conversations about life and take a genuine interest in me while I was in school. When I came to the realization that my teachers cared more about me and my development as a young man than they cared about the content that I learned, my perspective on education was transformed, inspiring my career as a teacher. Many of these transformative experiences came through the conversations in the hall, after school, football or basketball practices. I believe that my future was shaped in the little moments of advice as I sought to understand life from the perspective of those who cared enough to take the time to get to know me. My teachers and coaches knew how to guide me toward a pursuit of knowledge through honest discussions and careful examination of the situation.
The proposed Ordinance 31-21 in West Lafayette presents a significant challenge in the role of the teacher mentor to help students learn to cope with the struggles they encounter. Building a relationship of trust and honesty is a vital component to the effectiveness of the teacher. If a student knows the teacher is withholding information that may help that student conclude on a matter, the bridge of trust is broken, and walls begin to grow. One of the primary tasks for an educator involves developing a student’s ability to discover knowledge through research, discussion, and experience. In the classroom teachers customize lesson plans for students with an IEP or specific learning style to help them pursue knowledge. If a student comes to discuss a personal matter with the teacher, why would we avoid customizing the learning experience to the need of the individual? If the student or parents disagree with the teacher’s advice, they ought to have the freedom to pursue an option that supports their worldview; however, the proposed ordinance denies parents this basic freedom. An institution that seeks to build lifelong learners, continually developing skills of critical thinking, will not fear various perspectives on sensitive issues. However, if the institution is bent on indoctrination and programming from a single source, then the pursuit of knowledge no longer exists.
While I do have experience in the public school, I have spent most of my career in the Christian school for the specific purpose of mentoring the next generation to develop their leadership and citizenship skills with a biblical worldview. While executing this purpose, I have had the privilege to direct students toward a biblical perspective when they come to me asking for me to help them in this pursuit. No teacher should be forced to choose between providing a source of knowledge to a seeking student and government fines. The passing and enforcement of the proposed legislation threatens the teacher’s ability to mentor students as they seek to provide honest and open conversations.
High School Teacher and Mentor