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Should Teachers Share Personal Details with Students?

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The days of seemingly robotic and impersonal teachers are fading into the past as 21st century students grow a voice, their educators gain a personality.

Now, scarcely does a day go by where a teacher doesn’t divulge their not-so-hidden past to their students. There was my eighth grade English teacher who would illustrate her first pregnancy during a grammar test, leaving no details out. The description she gave us was their want of a drugless birth, which they soon objected to after conception, as they screamed their head off. If one were to ask the class what an idiom is, the class would remain in solemn silence. However, all students would be able to accurately depict the teacher’s vacations, home life, and major life events.

Another one of my teachers would start and finish the class by describing his/her sexual identity. He/she would bestow upon the class intimate details of his/her family life, and his/her own personal experiences in college. One noteworthy story is the one of the teacher losing their virginity only to realize that they were homosexual soon after. Or the story of a masturbator frequenting a bus stop.

There are teachers who aren’t afraid to share that they believe the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks was carried out by the U.S. government, who frequently describe twerking as a “sinful act,” and teachers who frequently describe their experiences with drugs. One teacher even described their first experience with cocaine, wherein they obtained the illegal drug at a wedding. Sadly, it was “cut with laxatives,” so they won’t likely partake again.

Is the sharing of such personal information a benefit or detriment to the educational process? No doubt, students will feel more connected to their teachers that they find personable rather than bland blocks of wood. And it is worth noting, that the previously described teachers all have high pass rates and are generally popular with students.

Perhaps teachers grow closer to their students by offering a piece of themselves. I certainly have fonder memories of teachers who narrate their past rather than the boring textbook. Olympic Heights social studies teacher Mr. Paul Farese is one of several teachers who shares his personal experiences with his students. On that matter he points out that “context matters” when discussing personal thoughts and experiences. OH junior Matthew Martin, says that the “class is more interesting” when teachers use their personal experiences to enhance a lesson.However OH junior Colton Crossman finds such sharing as unneeded and thinks it takes away from our high school experience. Junior Bryce Wulkan believes that “sometimes it can be a bit much, and can be distracting.”

An online website, Betsy Weigle’s Classroom Caboodle, quotes one teacher who said, “Just the other day, one of my students asked if my daughter knew how many of her stories I shared with them! My students become my kids. It makes me more approachable if they know something about my life. It also means they are more willing to share their life stories with me…and some of them really need to.”

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Should Teachers Share Personal Details with Students?