by Matt Walsh
In one of the creepiest yet most revealing Twitter threads ever to be posted on the platform, a teacher recently fretted out loud that virtual classes might allow parents to hear him brainwashing their kids. Matthew R. Kay, an educator and author of a book on “how to lead meaningful race conversations in the classroom,” worried that “conservative parents” would be able to interfere with the “messy work” of indoctrinating children into critical race theory, gender theory, and other left-wing dogmas.
Here’s the entire thread, which has since been set to private:
So, this fall, virtual class discussion will have many potential spectators — parents, siblings, etc. — in the same room. We’ll never be quite sure who is overhearing the discourse. What does this do for our equity/inclusion work?
How much have students depended on the (somewhat) secure barriers of our physical classrooms to encourage vulnerability? How many of us have installed some version of “what happens here stays here” to help this?
While conversation about race are in my wheelhouse, and remain a concern in this no-walls environment — I am most intrigued by the damage that “helicopter/snowplow” parents can do in the host conversations about gender/sexuality. And while “conservative” parents are my chief concern — I know that the damage can come from the left too. If we are engaged in the messy work of destabilizing a kid’s racism or homophobia or transphobia — how much do we want their classmates’ parents piling on?
It’s important to note that while some teachers responded to Kay’s comments with the appropriate level of horror and disgust, many others chimed in to share their own strategies for brainwashing during a pandemic. One teacher said she’d also been “thinking about” the problem Kay described, and had decided that she’d ask students about their preferred pronouns via survey — though she still worries that “caregivers” might see it and learn something about their children that they weren’t supposed to know.
Another teacher said that students last semester would sometimes “type secrets into the chat” whenever the discussion turned to “anti-racism and gender inclusive content.” Another complained that a white parent— she made sure to specify “white” — in her district recorded a Zoom class and “filed a complaint against the teacher for an anti-racist read aloud (saying the teacher’s commentary was inappropriate and biased).” This, the teacher says, “is going to be an issue.” [Continue reading]