Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Ostrich and the Turtle

I found this extremely interesting article. It was about maternity leave. And obviously, maternity leave for mothers. What made me do a double take and go back and read it was that the headline screamed Maternity leave, from Math class. Interestingly enough, it was about how there had been a request for maternity leave for high school girls who were pregnant. This was to make sure that they don't get loss in the wilderness that is life without a diploma but with a kid. Of course, I feel dumb adding this caveat but I'm adding it anyway, this is in the US.

Obviously, it's a very controversial issue and I liked it because it appealed to my social conscience and my wanting to champion the cause of the underdog. And I think part of that consciousness wanted to bring it up with the kids to broaden their somewhat blinkered perception of the issues that revolved around education. Feeling inspired, I IMed someone about it, only to receive a curt, decisive and holier than thou opinion. In order to protect the person's identity, I shall generically refer to said person as Chat Buddy.

The conversation went along these lines:

Me: I want to use it as a debate in class. It should be interesting.
Chat Buddy: No it isn't. There's no debate.
Me: What do you mean there's no debate? Of course there is.
Chat Buddy: No there isn't. You shouldn't use it.
Me: Why?
Chat Buddy: It's a classic example of doing damage control on something that shouldn't have happened in the first place.
Me: Yes. That's the point.
Chat Buddy: But it shouldn't even have happened in the first place. These girls shouldn't have gotten themselves pregnant in the first place.
Me: Ok, so because they shouldn't have gotten pregnant in the first place, there shouldn't be the introduction of this policy and because they shouldn't have gotten pregnant in the first place, I shouldn't let my students debate the issue in class?
Chat Buddy: Yes. It's giving credence to a bad idea. And it'll send out the message to your students that you condone the idea of unwed mothers. And besides, we teach abstinence, so why expose them to a policy that does damage control on the consequence of violating such a value?
Me: !!!!!

At that point, my brain was near exploding. This was a person who was educated and intelligent and I was just floored by the small-mindedness, selfishness and shallowness of the mind. How can it be a bad thing to expose students to such debate? It's an issue that they would never consider part of education because of the pristine and clinical environment in which they learn in. How can exposing them to such debate show that I was condoning the idea of unwed mothers? And was it wrong to want to support a policy that would allow such unwed mothers to have some small chance of getting back on their feet and getting an education for themselves, for their future and their kid's future? I have never at any point yelled from soap boxes or roof tops that I thought more teenagers should go out there and get themselves knocked up. On top of all that, I couldn't wrap my head around the turtle slash ostrich mentality of pretending that the problem doesn't exist and because of that, a solution shouldn't exist. That's just plain dumb.

And we can't blame the government for that particular brand of stupidity because even they know that even if you want to pretend the problem doesn't exist, you have to prepare for the possibility that it might one day become a problem and there better be a solution for it if it does occur. The terror threat's a pretty good example of that. We boast that we are safe, we warn and educate the public so that we might prevent it. By Chat Buddy's logic, that should be enough. But even the government knows enough to run drills just in bloody case something does happen. It really wouldn't t do if everything blew up around us (figuratively and literally speaking) and we were left holding the baby.

So I decided that my respect for this person has plummeted somewhat. And I think, for a while, I need to stop chatting to this person on IM because I'd like to pretend that such a person doesn't exist because I have no ability to deal with such a person and have never really thought about what I'd do if and when I come in contact with such a person. So now that I have and am floored by it, I think I need to stick my head back into the hole and pretend that my world is right again and bad things like that don't exist.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 21:58

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