Teacher Natalie Munroe was suspended from her job at a Philadelphia-area high school after her online rants about her students, co-workers and administrators were found, read, and distributed by some students and parents.
Munroe, however, neither had the common sense or the understanding of her obligations as a professional to apologize, and has decided to be defiant instead. She pulled down the offending blog posts and is now defending herself, arguing (naturally) that her First Amendment rights have been violated (yawn!), that her comments were “taken out of context” (an old stand-by), that her insulting opinions about her school duties were but a small proportion of what she posted (and, she might have mentioned with the same rapier logic, an extremely small percentage of her total communications output since birth, and an infinitesimal percentage of all the words uttered by homo sapiens since the Stone Age ) and most of all, that what she said about her Central Bucks East High School students, none of whom were mentioned by name, was all true.
You can read her self-absorbed excuse-making here, if you have a high boredom and annoyance threshold. Or you can read one of the blog posts that got her suspended, in which she confesses how she would like to describe her various students to their parents, listing, among other descriptions…
“Rat-like…Lazy asshole…Sneaky, complaining, jerkoff…Frightfully dim…Dresses like a street walker…Whiny, simpering grade-grubber with an unrealistically high perception of own ability level…One of the most annoying students I’ve had the displeasure of being locked in a room with for an extended time…Rude, beligerent [ Note to Natalie: English teachers shouldn’t misspell words on their blogs], argumentative fuck…Weirdest kid I’ve ever met…I didn’t realize one person could have this many problems…Liar and cheater…I hear the trash company is hiring…Utterly loathsome in all imaginable ways…I called out sick a couple of days just to avoid your son…There’s no other way to say this: I hate your kid.”
“I hate your kid.” Now why, Natalie wonders, would any parent get upset about that?
Munroe, the professional whom Doylestown, Pa. parents entrust their children to for their education, has admitted that she detests her job, loathes her responsibilities, and has feelings ranging from contempt to revulsion to hatred for the very same young people she is supposed to be helping…and she is indignant that school administrators and parents think this disqualifies her for her job.
She writes now:
“I am a professional and take pride in my work. I am perfectly capable of separating my personal feelings about some of the people I have to work with from the work I accomplish. In that way, I’m also like millions of people around the world; at some point, we all have to work with someone we don’t like. But we do it anyway, get the job done, and move along. That’s how life works. To suggest otherwise is ridiculous.”
Here is another way life works, Ms. Munroe. Teachers are professionals. Professionals have to be trusted. Lawyers may not like their clients—frequently they don’t—but if they tell their clients that they think they are slimy morons who probably would do society a lot more good behind bars, that client is going to find another lawyer. If a doctor, in whose hands I am going to entrust my internal organs, confides in me that he hates my guts, believe me, I’m taking my guts to another doctor. And if you think President Obama would have a chance at re-election if he was found to have posted on his secret blog, “So many Americans appear to be under-educated, bigoted, hateful cretins. I can hardly stand looking at them,” you are deluded.
A teacher who writes, with or without using names, that her students are assholes and fucks, and that she hates some of them, is not going to be trusted by any parent, or any student. She is theoretically a professional, but she is an untrustworthy professional, which means that she is a lousy professional. She is useless, because such strong personal dislikes and biases are difficult to overcome, and everyone knows it. Do some of the other teachers feel similarly? I’m sure they do, but I will entrust my son to someone who might harbor secret hatred for her students before trusting a teacher whom I know harbors such feelings, and whom, moreover, has shown the common sense and judgment of a fourth-grader by sending such sentiments into cyberspace.
Natalie Munroe needs a lesson on how the Internet works, some humility, a vacation, and most of all, a new profession.
Addendum: Stories like these always expose the most persistent misconceptions, ethical fallacies and flawed habits of analysis in the public, and the tale of Ms. Munroe’s blog is doing an unusually good job of it. Almost all of these are on vivid display over at the Huffington Post. I may use the comments there to do a survey and de-bunking of the most typical rationalizations and unethical mindsets adopted by HuffPo’s readers…if they don’t depress me too much. They might.