There has been a spate of local news of inappropriate relationships between teachers and students, or of teachers behaving inappropriately. The most recent was a report of a teacher making video recordings in a toilet.
There has been the expected public vitriol and the “See? This is why we need values education!” response.
But one response that surprised me was how at least two schools imposed gag orders. One involved a principal a while back and the other was a more recent one involving a teacher. Students were not allowed to discuss the event that was happening in their own school. One school went so far as to cancel newspaper reading on the day and time reserved for just that.
The gag order is an old school and pointless move. The gag orders come an order too late in the era of social media. The discussion is already taking place, often based on rumour and hearsay.
I can understand a gag order where the press is concerned because the school authorities are in damage control mode. But part of damage control is to have an open and logical dialogue with the ones you should be caring about the most.
Students nowadays are no longer a passive audience. They have a voice and expect to use it. We should be showing them how to listen, analyze, and use that voice responsibly.
Hiding behind old school walls does not just model outdated behaviour. In this day and age, I would argue that such gag orders are irresponsible.
Such events, although undesirable, are authentic teaching moments. The learners are curious and motivated to know more. It is not the time to tell them to close the windows and doors, switch off their mobile devices, and only focus on their textbooks.
The events did not stem from textbooks and they will not be solved with textbook answers.