Teaching Boundaries

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Mr. Booth was the student teacher in my senior band class. He was one of those teachers that everyone gets along with, even the trouble makers. A man of short stature and big poofy hair, his hearty, loud laugh could be heard bellowing down the hall. If he was having a good day, everyone could tell. In the few months he had been around, the band students and I became friends with him and hung on his every word. Specifically, I found a connection with him through our love of metal music. He had been in a band that played this music and had many interesting stories to tell about his experiences with it, which seemed all the more interesting to me because I’m in a very similar band now. One doesn’t usually find a teacher who is so open and able to relate to their students at such an explicit level. Mr. Booth and I would talk about his stories whenever we had the time, and during our discussions he would seem like any other high school student. Even on band trips, he could be found doing the very things that would get students into trouble, and we respected him for that. Realistically, he isn’t much older than most of our senior class, which partially allowed for the compatibility between students and teacher. In short, we looked up to him and learned a lot more from him than even our regular band class teacher.
A few weeks ago my band had a gig at a local downtown game room and we really wanted Mr. Booth to watch us. We thought he could give us input on our music and performance considering he is a music major and fellow musician. Such input would improve our musical talents and really expand our horizons if we could talk to a previous successful band leader, and a college student studying the art. Nonetheless, he is our friend and we wanted to show him what we could do. The weight that a friend has in showing up and supporting one’s band is only understood by those who experience it, and underestimated by those who haven’t. Thus we were really hoping he would be able to make it and give us any advice at all. However, with the current school system’s hold on its employees, teachers aren’t allowed to hang around students outside of school if it holds even a glimpse of being not educational. Since Mr. Booth is a school employee, he falls under this jurisdiction and accordingly, he responded by saying he couldn’t watch or hang out with us outside of school even though he wanted to because it would be looked upon to be not educational. Needless to say, we were very disappointed.

Have school teachers become so irresponsible that we must take away their connection in the outside world with their students, depriving them of their ability to teach and engage their students in the real world outside of class? We students have always been under the impression that teaching was something that should be occurring both inside and outside the classroom, and the main purpose of this teaching was to expand our horizons and possibilities in our own lives. Creating the barrier between class and the real world is not setting a good example for the impressionably young students in this system. Strengthening the distinction between the two worlds expose to children that school life and knowledge is different from reality and that the two are incompatible.

It’s understandable to have the boundaries between teachers and students as there are some adults that would abuse their power. The thing that doesn’t make much sense is that all of the schooling system has to suffer because of these few people and the irresponsible employers that hire them. This huge organization of the youth in this school system has become so impersonal and socially blanketing that many suffer from the effects. “No exceptions” has become a common denying phrase in an organization which blankets many children. From elementary school I have learned that treating a large group of individuals as the same person is much worse than any small governing system which allows exceptions, and treats people individually. Teachers need this latter system in which exceptions can be allowed, especially in times of educational opportunities outside of class.

Having input from a professional musician like Mr. Booth would’ve been very educational and progressive for self-improvement. Yet our school’s rules are so rigid as to prevent help outside of the classroom. Has society become so dangerous we can’t even trust our teachers, or can we stop the impersonal governing of our school systems to improve both the learning situation and teach world expanding morals to the youth of today? Together, we are able to make these changes, even in a system as big as our schools.





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