Guest Blogger: James Wadley
In spring, 2013, Robin Thicke, Pharell, and TI released the chart topping song, “Blurred Lines” which discusses the courtship intentions for a woman who is currently in a romantic relationship with another man. The premise of the song suggests that the woman is a “good girl” but that she wants to get “nasty” (sexually provocative) and be with the relevant suitor. The concept of blurred lines also extends itself to teaching and education.
Some teachers struggle with their own blurred lines as it relates to their role as an educator for their students. Because of the personal, emotional, institutional, programmatic and sometimes financial investment in students, teachers may become attached to their students in a manner in which they may not have anticipated. This attachment pattern may come in the form of potentially inappropriate boundary violations including hugging students, giving gifts, curricular (e.g. discussion of morally and emotionally charged issues with vulnerable populations) and temporal infractions (e.g., providing one or more students with more time than others), emotional and power infringements, or improper communication (e.g., discussing or offering advice on personal issues) with students.
Typically, colleges and universities address traditional boundary violations with policies that may address various forms of sexual harassment, coercion, and debilitative interpersonal relationships. Oftentimes though, the teacher-student relationship evolves beyond conventional expectations and teachers find themselves extending their educational relationship beyond assumed parameters within and outside the classroom. Policies typically don’t address the complexities of emotional and social navigation including dual relationships, codependence, and relational extraction. Teachers are typically left to manage the educational, social, emotional, and cultural assumptions of themselves, their students, and the teacher-student relationship.
In the light of the potential blurred lines that can develop between teachers and students, I extend an invitation to you to reflect and share about any of the following questions:
1. How do you build and maintain rapport with your students?2. What personal information do you feel comfortable sharing with students?3. Based upon your experience or what other teachers have shared with you, when do lines become blurred with students?
Finally, for amusement, below is a video link of last summer’s sensation, “Blurred Lines.” :)