China recently announced that it would consider banning teachers from relationships with students, which makes us collectively ask, how the hell is this even legal?
We know that a fair segment of the Beijing readership is made up of education professionals. So we decided to take a stand on this matter and say that you really shouldn’t have an intimate relationship with your students regardless of what the law allows. And personally, as an educator who has worked with students from childhood through high school, I believe that every teacher should fully support this ban. Here’s why.
It will help you in your work: Good teachers are highly qualified professionals with a job to do. But you can’t manage your classroom if you’re interested in being a viable dating prospect for a student, and students can’t learn effectively while trying to get your romantic attention. I wholeheartedly support teachers who have healthy, happy personal lives, including dating. However, there are many other and more appropriate ways of pairing that won’t affect the quality of your work.
The performance dynamics are taken into account: I understand that the age of consent culturally and legally shifts with geography. But teachers are inherently powerful over their students. We control their grades, their future prospects, we even control when they can go to the bathroom. This is not a situation that promotes a healthy relationship. In fact, it encourages predatory behavior. Is this really the kind of romance you want to partake in?
It takes biology into account: Regardless of the age of consent, our students are still developing the part of their brain that allows them to think critically and consider long-term consequences. A difficult student who desperately woos a teacher to improve his or her reputation may not necessarily be aware of the risks to their health, reputation, and future opportunities. Part of our job as teachers is to protect and guide our formidable students and to prevent them from making harmful choices.
It protects the children who are not with teachers: A teacher’s three favorite words are “I understand!” This is more than just a job: it’s a passion and a calling. We care deeply about all of our students and when a child takes up more space in our hearts because we are romantically connected with them, they will receive preferential treatment, even if it is unintentional. By giving preference to one child, you are violating another’s ability to have that “I understand!” Moment.
It also protects the teachers: If you teach long enough, there’s a good chance a student will have a crush on you at some point. This is a normal and healthy part of growing up and should be a harmless phase. By having very clear boundaries on what is appropriate, a teacher can be gentle on a student’s feelings by indicating that while it is flattered, it is simply not allowed.
In conclusion, I am not here to judge other people’s relationships. What consenting adults do privately is absolutely none of my business and I support everyone’s right to seek mutual romantic happiness. But I also believe in standing up for and protecting those who are vulnerable. Our children are vulnerable. We need to make sure they have a safe learning environment where they can focus on becoming the best version of themselves and the most productive member of society.
This article first appeared on our sister site Jingkids International.
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