What happens when we sabotage our own efforts to promote values by sending contradictory messages?
That's the ethics challenge the panel takes up when Natalia Alvarez, Ph.D., JC Glick, and Lovelda Vincenzi join me to Grapple with the Gray.
A teacher at the private Girls’ Day School Trust in the UK was recently ordered to apologize and subsequently told her contract would not be renewed after her class of 11-year-old students protested that her comments were offensive.
Her crime: Addressing the class with the words, “Good Afternoon, Girls.” Apparently, the students complained that the teacher “misgendered” them, since not all of them identify as female.
The school website states the following:
“The Girls’ Day School Trust is the UK’s leading family of 25 independent girls’ schools including two academies. In all of our schools, academic excellence is a given – at the GDST we develop character beyond the curriculum.
“Ensuring our girls are confident and fearless, determined to show what they can do. Nothing holds our girls back – they’re encouraged to embrace every role and subject. This is the GDST Difference.”
Without getting into the topic of gender identity, is there something incongruous about a self-named girls day school referring to students as “girls” on its own website while disciplining a teacher for calling students “girls”? Is the school indulging a double standard that undermines its educational integrity, or is there some justification for the distinction?
If character development is an educational value, shouldn’t that involve addressing grievances in a non-confrontational and non-punitive way? Would the school serve its students better by modeling how to resolve differences of belief and opinion through civil discourse rather than combativeness?
Finally, how else might the school administration have addressed student complaints?
#ethics #education #culture #leadership #grappling