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:
A teacher in West Virginia is on a 21-day leave of absence after visiting Kenya; the school is requiring all employees who travel internationally to prove that they are not sick before returning to work.
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:
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.
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.
I've been teaching and traveling the world for decades. I teach technology skills and programming in international schools, and love developing skills in my students. Teaching internationally gives me a broader perspective and I thoroughly enjoy the thrill of new sights and experiences.