Author Topic: Teacher gets political in crafts class UPDATE #34  (Read 8616 times)

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O'Dell

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Re: Teacher gets political in crafts class
« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2012, 01:17:40 PM »
O.P. here.  The class is free, and Wilma does not get paid.  As I mentioned, Wilma is an excellent teacher.  Her classes are very popular, and there is always a waiting list.

My issue isnít with Wilma specifically, although her behavior is what brought it up.  My issue certainly isnít with X versus Y.  What Iím trying to communicate to the library is that I object to any teacher using their class for political proselytizing, no matter what their views.  It wastes class time, and it puts students in an awkward position. 

One big problem is that Wilma clearly doesnít feel she was discussing politics.  ďItís the truth, and people need to know it!Ē  I hope that my letter conveys that her statements were indeed political.  Iím not out to punish Wilma.  What I want is for the library to be aware that at least one teacher has used her position of authority in an inappropriate way (in my opinion anyway) and that they might want to ensure that teachers know the libraryís policy (if there is one). 

Would it be better if I didn't mention Wilma by name in the letter and simply described the incident and my concerns?

To reflect that in your letter: However, on <date>, Wilma began discussing political issues that offend me during the class session.
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CrazyDaffodilLady

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Re: Teacher gets political in crafts class
« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2012, 01:21:36 PM »
Several people have mentioned that sentence.  I'll change it.
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Margo

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Re: Teacher gets political in crafts class
« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2012, 01:23:53 PM »
I think it is fine to mention her by name(& for what it's worth, I think your point is entirely reasonable) but I think You need to be explicit, as you have in your update - that you feel it's inappropriate and offensive for a teacher to be proselythizing during class, particularly regarding controversial issues.

Shea

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Re: Teacher gets political in crafts class
« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2012, 01:52:18 PM »
It sounds like Wilma is terribly inappropriate, but do you know if the class is actually offered by the library, or if it's another group using library space? If it's actually the library itself putting it on, then the head of the library should definitely know about it and be the one to deal with it, since that sort of political stuff shouldn't be spouted by a library employee on work time. However, it's common in most public libraries for groups unaffiliated with the library to use library space for classes, seminars, and the like. If that's the case, it doesn't really matter that the library is tax-funded, since Wilma isn't one of their employees. You might want to give the head librarian a head's up in that case, since the library has control over who they allow to use their space, but who you should really be writing to is whoever's in charge of putting together the classes.


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CrazyDaffodilLady

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Re: Teacher gets political in crafts class
« Reply #19 on: September 30, 2012, 03:06:36 PM »
The class is sponsored by the library.  The library controls enrollment.  They provide the room and some supplies, such as free copying for the teacher.  There are criteria for classes that meet there, but Iíve never seen the list.

Iím in the process of rewriting the letter.  Will post it for final approval when Iím done.  I took out Wilmaís name because Iím asking about the libraryís policy for all classes.  I really donít want the matter to become personal. 

Margo, Iíve used your suggestion.  Thanks.
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whatsanenigma

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Re: Teacher gets political in crafts class
« Reply #20 on: September 30, 2012, 05:13:45 PM »
  It wastes class time, and it puts students in an awkward position. 


This particular line stands out as important to me.

What if it were a completely non-controversial topic she was going on about? (Snakes in a restuarant are bad, perhaps?) It would still be inappropriate to do that, because, as you say, it wastes class time.  Even if most of the students in the class find the topic interesting, "Snakes in a Resturant are a Bad Thing"  is not the topic of the class.  Craft XYZ is the topic.

Even though the class is free in terms of money, it's not free in terms of time, transportation, etc.  If she wants to offer a class on her pet topic, then great, let her do that, but it distracts from her class on Craft XYZ, which is why people have come, and they would like to spend time studying it.  Even if they find her pet topic interesting or at least inoffensive, they didn't come to hear about that and if they had known it and not XYZ was the topic, they might have chosen to spend their time elsewhere.  It's a little misleading to offer a class on Craft XYZ when only part of the time is spent on XYZ and a good portion of the time is taken up with other things, no matter what they are.

I agree with the other posters in this thread, but I just wanted to offer a bit of a different angle.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2012, 05:15:46 PM by whatsanenigma »

poundcake

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Re: Teacher gets political in crafts class
« Reply #21 on: October 01, 2012, 03:22:17 PM »
I am extremely political and devoted to several social causes, but, as a teacher, I know that politics, religion and personal/private information, quite simply, have no place in the classroom on my part, and little place on the part of the students. It creates a problematic environment, and, especially, wastes class time. There are plenty of places to debate these issues, but not in class.

CrazyDaffodilLady

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Re: Teacher gets political in crafts class
« Reply #22 on: October 01, 2012, 04:04:28 PM »
Okay, here's the latest version. I'm not thrilled with the next-to-last paragraph that begins "If it is the library's policy". It seems kind of wimpy. I'm also wondering if I should add something about giving teachers guidelines as to what constitutes political discussion (since Wilma doesn't seem to understand this). I'm tempted to add something about teachers responding to students with rudeness and belligerence, but that might cloud the issue.

Incidentally, I'm signing my name, and the library can easily identify the teacher if they wish to do so.


Re: class policy

Iíve been taking a crafts class offered by the library. Iíve enjoyed the class, and the teacher is excellent. However, at the most recent class, the teacher began discussing political issues during the class session.  She mentioned a political candidate by name in a disparaging tone and was very obviously about to state a negative opinion of a controversial political topic involving this candidate.  I quickly interrupted and requested that political issues not be discussed in class.  This seemed to anger the teacher, and she said in a loud hostile voice, ďItís not political. Itís the truth, and people need to know it!Ē  I replied that it was political and was inappropriate for class.  She repeated her previous statement, more angrily.  I left the class and do not plan to return.

I donít believe that political opinions belong in crafts classes offered by the library.  Students should not have to make a choice between listening to opinions they find offensive or leaving the class.  I feel it is inappropriate for teachers to use class time and their positions of authority to espouse political views.

If it is the libraryís policy that politics do not belong in the classes, perhaps the teachers could be reminded of this.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. 
It takes two people to play tug of war. If you don't want to play, don't pick up the rope.

BeagleMommy

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Re: Teacher gets political in crafts class
« Reply #23 on: October 01, 2012, 04:18:48 PM »
CDL, I think your latest version is great!  I have a feeling this teacher is known to them and they've had other complaints.

SuperMartianRobotGirl

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Re: Teacher gets political in crafts class
« Reply #24 on: October 01, 2012, 04:19:42 PM »
This is a "time and place" issue. Not the time, not the place, for either political or religious discussions. I think sending a letter is a good idea.

buvezdevin

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Re: Teacher gets political in crafts class
« Reply #25 on: October 01, 2012, 04:33:48 PM »
Your letter looks *perfect*.

Best wishes, and please update if you get any response.
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JenJay

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Re: Teacher gets political in crafts class
« Reply #26 on: October 01, 2012, 04:59:10 PM »
Love it!

Sharnita

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Re: Teacher gets political in crafts class
« Reply #27 on: October 01, 2012, 06:35:35 PM »
While those classes are free and she volunteers, if it is offered through the library or community ed I would think they keep track of how many people participate and those stats are considered important. If she drives people away it could impact whether classes are offered in the future.

SuperMartianRobotGirl

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Re: Teacher gets political in crafts class
« Reply #28 on: October 01, 2012, 06:57:15 PM »
I'm sure they can very diplomatically tell her that the classes are for everyone, and everyone should be comfortable there, regardless of things like political leanings.

I had a similar situation at a childbirth group, where the teacher said, "Well of course NO ONE here would agree with political issue X." And I did, and I told her. The hospital had us fill out evaluation forms and I mentioned it there, but I didn't get a response. Though I didn't sound angry on it and I didn't ask for one. Hopefully she stopped that with later classes.

snowdragon

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Re: Teacher gets political in crafts class
« Reply #29 on: October 01, 2012, 08:24:22 PM »
While those classes are free and she volunteers, if it is offered through the library or community ed I would think they keep track of how many people participate and those stats are considered important. If she drives people away it could impact whether classes are offered in the future.

Those stats can be used to prove need for funding in local and state budgets as well as for filing for grants.  Her driving folks away and possibly driving down the funding because of less classes being offered ( and therefor less folks using the library) could have real results. 
  The bad publicity alone could drive folks away.