Afraid to Teach

by Geralt (Pixabay) - license CC0 (public domain)
by Geralt (Pixabay) – license CC0

Teachers and schools have an obligation to both their students and their community to behave in a professional manner and work to educate all. This holds true even when it means flying in the face of public opinion.

Recently, some schools in the US have been giving in to fear and ignorance regarding public and parental fears about the Ebola disease:

While there are some reports of schools that are actively fighting against fear-mongering, most of these schools are taking the path of least resistance and “taking extra precautions” in response to parental uproar. “We have to err on the side of caution,” is a phrase frequently invoked.

It is sad that fear and ignorance have taken root in these communities. It is even sadder that the schools are giving in to it. Taking the path of least resistance when angry parents threaten to take their children out of school does avoid interruptions to the children’s education, but a strong administrator who stands up to ignorant parents would be furthering the education of children and adults.

Think of the lessons that can be learned here:

Geography

Kai Krause - Public Domain
Kai Krause – Public Domain

Africa is big. Teach children (and parents) about how maps can distort sizes and distances. Use mathematics to calculate distances between countries and continents. Compare “straight line” distances with “great circle” distances. This is a terrific opportunity for people to learn more about their world.

Health

Public Domain - Wikimedia Commons
Cynthia Goldsmith – Wikimedia Commons – Public Domain

Diseases don’t happen by magic. Viruses, bacteria and other organisms transmit them. And they do so in specific ways. When there is fear of disease, it’s time to teach about exactly how  germs are spread and how we can prevent them from spreading.

Media Studies

mojzagrebinfo - Pixabay - CC0
mojzagrebinfo – Pixabay – CC0

How is the spread of Ebola being reported? What kind of messages are being sent out? How do different media outlets describe the pandemic? Compare local with international reporting.

 …or Psychology, Ethics, Law…

No doubt these types of lessons are being taught in many schools. It seems, however, that not enough is being done by some schools to really educate people.