The Royal Commission into child sex abuse will paradoxically further damage the educational enterprise.
Essential to effective education is the relationship between teacher and student, students are not disembodied brains but unique individuals and personalities.
The best teachers teach individual students not classes, the teachers I most respected were those who took a genuine interest in me as a person.
They knew my background, my interests and hobbies and any hassles I was having. I trusted and confided in them.
I counted them as a friend and kept in touch long after I graduated.
There were no disciplinary problems in their classrooms because the students knew that the teacher genuinely cared about them.
They knew our language, our concerns and whether our footy team won on the weekend.
They would wave to us at the supermarket and they joined in our games at lunchtimes.
Obviously getting close to students was sometimes problematic, some teachers abused their trust and for that, all teachers are now tarnished.
Teachers now are taught to keep their distance.
I have seen fellow teachers requiring a class photo to write their mid-year reports because they do not recognise a student.
I have seen teachers afraid to help an injured child up who had fallen over in the playground.
'Never touch a student and be careful of every word you say, either in class or privately, to a student,' they're told.
'Students are jail bait and it is critical to avoid over-familiarity'.
I have seen male teachers hounded out of the profession because the pendulum has swung so far that teachers are now presumed guilty on the face of an unfounded rumour.
Teachers know they will rarely be supported by school administrators and understandably resort to the safety of becoming a detached, impersonal and guarded educator. The baby has truly been thrown away with the bathwater!
The casualty in this clinical ‘keep your distance’ teaching approach is effective education.
Students will learn more effectively if their teacher actually cares about them as fellow human beings.
The best teachers know what their students are thinking, what they are really like and what makes them tick.
Of course, the teacher-student relationship must be respectful and healthy.
However, the fall-out of the Royal Commission and predictable salacious reporting by the media of any exposed teacher-student trysts will deter any teacher who believes that effective education is about the whole child.
Ironically it is much more challenging, time-consuming and sometimes depressing, getting to know one’s students.
The easier road is to focus solely on delivering the curriculum to disembodied brains. Stay under the radar and keep your distance!