Thursday, October 02, 2008

Just Don't Do It


If you've been paying attention to your Yahoo News page, you'd see one of the top stories is about this middle school Math teacher convicted of sex crime with her student. Her name's Kelsey Peterson, she teaches in Lexington Middle School in Nebraska and she had an affair with her then 12-year-old student named Fernando.
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In fairness, this Fernando guy is tall, like my height, 5'8" and heavy set. Kelsey claims there came a point they didn't see age anymore and she just saw him as a man. When asked why she was even attracted to the boy, she said of the boy involved in gangs "I saw potential in him, and I think I can change this guy."

I watched the short clip on yahoo news and I expected to find that stereotypical sex offender woman. You know: withdrawn, unkempt, weird, barely coherent, broken. But I was bothered by Peterson's clarity of thought. She had a spark in her, an intelligence which probably attracted students to her as well. She said she knew it was wrong at first, but then she made choice after choice after choice which brought her deeper into shit. Her advice: Don't try to be friends with your students. They might mistake your attention for sexual attraction.

Chilling thought.

I'm not saying I have the tendencies. So far, I've taught all 4 years without a problem. But I think I understand what she meant by being drawn to certain kids, especially if they seem to be a little problematic. The bright, active ones can easily become favorites, but somehow their eagerness just emphasizes their youth to me. They give their loyalties easily, laughs at your jokes dutifully, rides your thoughts gamely and more or less follows your instructions without question. It's the difficult ones which gets to you. The aloof ones, who barely participate, and lets you into their confidence tantalizingly slow are the ones that catches your fascination.

Worse is, I stylize myself so my students will see me as a friend. I hate the teacher stereotypes. And with what we do, we often emphasize that we are facilitators and not academic mentors. I try to break down as much of the formal communication barriers as necesary so I could function more of as a counselor than an academic.

And maybe I have had that tinge of curiousity too. Where do you think the idea for that short story about that teacher and the student came from? But well, I'm a writer, I think we have license to imagine this sort of stuff. The thing is, it serves as a good outlet for the curiousity. We don't have to act it out to realize what would happen. We can set a whole scenario in our head and live the situation vicariously. Nobody gets hurt. The critical thing is to never let the fantasy set foot in reality. Then it'll be trouble.

I'm of the opinion that if everybody can just utilize their imaginations properly, crimes of sex or violence or of any sort would lessen because there'd be no use for doing the actual thing since you've kind of done everything in your head. The best part of it is that, you'd get to see the implications of what you've done without having done anything yet. So you learn a lesson before you even make a mistake. But then again, with all the neuroses coming up and the foolhardiness of human beings, imagination might be a dangerous thing as well. Nothing is ever simple.

Just take the advice and run na lang. Just don't do it.

1 comment:

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