Controversial subject matter at the risk of your job
From this article at educationnews.org:
Ed Youngblood, a 37-year teaching veteran, said he was forced to quit or be fired last week after showing an R-rated movie in his British literature class.... He resigned last Wednesday after complaints over his screening of the 1998 movie "Elizabeth" prompted an investigation....
Youngblood did not follow procedure by using unapproved materials in a class without first gaining permission from the school. Two weeks ago he showed the movie, which carries an R-rating for violence and sexuality, to a class of seniors.... Monday, Gwinnett County Public Schools spokeswoman Sloan Roach said that Youngblood chose to resign when told that an investigation had begun. Youngblood says he was given five minutes to choose between resignation and dismissal.
He said he was told those were his options because a precedent had been set at the school. In 2002, two special education teachers were forced to resign for showing the comedy "History of the World Part I" in class.
... Support is gaining at the school for Youngblood, who retired at the end of the 2004-2005 school year and taught part-time this year.
There is a real risk in showing mature material in one's classroom. My students are constantly talking about this movie or that movie that would perfectly illustrate a point about which we are talking. They then want me to show that movie. My answer is no.
Number one, I do not show videos in my classes. In my school, history teachers have the "joking?" rep of showing movies instead of teaching. If kids want to watch movies, they can do that at home-- and obviously, they have, or they wouldn't bring these films up. I do sometimes use movies for examples when I am teaching, but I simply refer to the scene in question-- I don't spend three days showing a movie.
Number two, I started a women's studies class this year, and whoa! did the stuff hit the fan by ultrauberconservatives on the faculty and the school board who thought I would be teaching man-bashing, bra-burning, and the braiding of armpit-hair, among other things which I do not even want to contemplate. Visions of femi-nazis obviously danced through the heads of
But my point is, you have to be careful about being misunderstood when discussing anything in class.
Having said this, I do find it a bit disingenuous that parents who in no way monitor what their kids are seeing at home squawk over PG movies being shown at school, or R-rated movies to 18-year-old seniors. I mean, I get way more embarassed by some of the gyrations and outfits of the drill team at pep rallies than by some of the material in films that most of my students have seen.
I once walked into my class as it was being used during my planning period by special education teachers teaching an "IEP class." They were showing the movie "Love and Basketball." I nearly had a seizure over the language before I could get out of there. I thought about how my 9th grade English teacher had a habit of deliberately getting behind in the filmstrip of "Romeo and Juliet" so that Romeo's naked butt would flash by on the screen in a nanosecond. She would have stopped breathing over what I saw in ten seconds.
The schools must meet standards that are much higher than that maintained in the general community. This is a matter of practicality, if not of common sense. Nonetheless, I smell a set-up in the "resignation" of Ed Youngblood.