Friday, October 26, 2012

Reputations

I'm not inspired to write a clever or funny blog post. I've kind of just ignored it the past few days.
I've had a long week.
I know I can't complain compared to real trials in other people's lives.
The biggest stress was at work. Last Friday, I had a disagreement with a student. He raised his voice, I told him he could not be rude to me, and he filed a complaint with Human Resources claiming that I was culturally intolerant.
So, even though I knew I hadn't done anything wrong, I got called in to HR to explain myself. That's intimdating and nerve wracking.
Now, I know some of you are imagining what this student must have looked like. He's a tiny white guy whose culture is some sort of new age philosophy that is antiauthoritarian, which is why he refused to apologize for being rude. Last year, he told me it was against his religion to use personal pronouns -- you know: I, me, my, we. Whatever, we just roll with it.
After he was rude, I asked him to apologize; he said it was against his culture, and we continued to work together for half an hour -- even though I wasn't happy about it.
But the complaint he sent to HR talked about his German Jewish heritage. What? I was anti-Jewish or anti German when I told him not to be rude?
He talked about his perception that I didn't agree with his Pantheism. I didn't know he was a pantheist, but some of my friends are Wiccan and I definitely don't have a problem working with students of any religion.
In the end, the raised voices were only about treating people rudely. And asking someone not to treat me rudely doesn't connect with a specific culture.
The HR person agreed with me, but nearly a week has gone by with me wondering if it's possible for a student to make up things about me and endanger my job.
I think the answer is yes.
If other people hadn't been around, he could have claimed that I said anything, and I would only have my word and reputation as my defense.
I returned to some parenting advice that I gave my kids when they were younger, early teens, and had  done or said something they regretted. I'd tell them that their friends don't judge them on one event. Friends take it into context of all the other things we've said and done.
And hopefully, my entire teaching career would be considered when wondering whether I'd been intolerant of someone else's culture.
Hopefully, this incident is behind me, but I've seen the lies that students can weave and know I'm not safe from them.

9 comments:

danasparkle said...

WOW, that is insane. As everyone is clearer about their rights, a whole value set around respect is lost. Be gentle with yourself. It does reflect a vulnerability which is unnerving. Stand in your power. thanks for sharing this story.
*

Suzie Tullett said...

I can understand why a week later you're still mulling the issues over. Dana is right when she mentions vulnerability. It must have been an awful position to be in x

Sally Tharpe Rowles said...

What a difficult position teachers are in. My son is a high school French teacher & he has in countered a situation like this. Students today know they have a power over their teachers if they chose to use it. So different from when we were in school. Everything ended up working out fine for my son ( usually the students who do this sort of thing make a habit of it, which works against them ). I am sure this will be the case for you as well. But I totally understand the worry that you are going through. Bon courage !

judi said...

that guy has deeper issues than just his "religion."
good grief. what an idiot.

Paulita said...

Thanks for your support everyone. I'll pull myself out of the doldrums and think of something pithy to write soon.

Esme said...

Paulita-the meme is Orange you Glad it is Friday-I just need to remember where I first saw it.

Esme said...

It is not funny, just sad that someone cannot admit that they were rude and so they make up allegations of you attacking their ethnicity etc.

Just Me said...

I'm so sorry for what you're going through with this situation. I agree that he's a jerk and clearly has lots of issues to create this all out of thin air.... I just wish all that could help you.

I know you'll have the support of any one who knows you or has worked with you.

Hugs and Feel Better

DCMetroreader said...

So sorry that you had to go through that ordeal. I remember back in my school days one of my male professors always kept his door open when meeting with students. I thought it was a bit much, but he was probably just being cautious.

I hope this week is better for you.

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