I’m back! The past couple of weeks have been very busy and I’m sure that heading into the holidays will only make it worse, but before I sit down to grade a bin full of student work I thought I would put out a short blog just so I can say I am keeping up with my goals.
I went today to The Daily Prompt to see what I could find to write about, and I found the following:
Write about evil: how you understand it (or don’t), what you think it means, or a way it’s manifested, either in the world at large or in your life.
The concept of evil is so subjective. Justification can always be made or exceptions found for why something which had previously thought to be evil would not be considered to be so given a specific situation. However, in my teaching experience I have discovered a true evil which is always the most difficult to destroy: a lack of professionalism.
I present what I feel like is a great example of this evil. A friend of mine posted something on facebook which tagged another friend. We were at a Halloween party and the host had dressed his Basset Hound in a chef’s costume, and my friend decided to take a picture of it, post it on facebook, and tag our culinary arts teacher friend in it as a joke. I am not connected online with this person, but my friend is and so he was able to tag her and share this joke.
Please note that this happened entirely separate from any work related function. We were not on school time or school property. No posts were made on a school website or via a school e-mail. This woman had consciously and voluntarily “friended” my friend online, giving him permission to tag her in pictures and, knowing this person, assume that jokes might be made. This one picture with one tag happened on a Saturday night.
Monday morning my friend was called to the principal’s office to discuss the fact that the picture of a dog in a costume made this other employee feel uncomfortable. She didn’t approach my friend, she didn’t message him online, she didn’t talk to him or yell at him, or ask a friend to say something about it. She came back to work on Monday AND WENT TO THE BOSS ABOUT IT AND THEN THE BOSS AGREED TO TALK TO MY FRIEND ABOUT IT.
It’s enough that his friend thought it was appropriate to bring something personal to work. Gossip alone is an evil with many heads. But then she took it to the highest authority at our workplace and complained as though he was bothering her at work and sharing inappropriate pictures of her with kids, at work. KEY WORDS HERE ARE “AT WORK.” None of this happened there.
But any evil requires someone else to agree and allow it to thrive, and the moment the principal agreed to handle this problem for her, it became true evil. All the principal had to do was say “Well, it’s unfortunate that happened to you, but it’s not any of my business since it didn’t happen here at school, so you might want to go speak with him about it and perhaps unfriend him online so this doesn’t happen again.” That’s not what happened. What the principal decided was “Hey, I like to be involved in other people’s business, so I’ll TOTALLY handle this for you because it makes me feel powerful and in charge. I will ignore the fact that my involvement is completely inappropriate and unprofessional.”
What kind of a precedent does this set? Where does the divide between work and professional life exist when social media blends work friends and real friends and those who are both work and real friends, and in addition to the confusion that creates the work environment also blends personal and work issues. (In retrospect, that sentence sounded horrible, but my point is that some things need to stay personal, and some things belong at work.)
So the true evil here is not the woman who brought a personal issue to work in an effort to hurt a coworker, and not the principal who decided that feeling in charge and powerful was more important than being professional. The true evil here is the inherent blending of personal and work lives to the point where we are all unsure of the location of the divide. Where does our work life end and our personal life begin? When is it okay to say “That’s none of your business” anymore? When is it okay to go home at the end of the work day without people looking at you like you are a horrible person? When is it okay to GO HOME and NOT WORK? The evil inherent in education is that the separation of work and home is never okay, and that has been the case since public education came to be in our great country.