A teacher in South Carolina has been placed on administrative leave and is being investigated after he allegedly stomped on an American flag in front of three different classrooms full of high school students. The deed was discovered after one of the students came home and talked about it with her father. When asked why he did that, the girl's father says she replied, "I don't know." Which is kind of sad. Wasn't she paying attention to the lesson? Yes, I'm all for teaching students independent thinking. It's a quality that is sadly lacking these days. There's nothing wrong with a teacher trying to explain that symbols -- such as the American flag, as well as the cross, which he also reportedly mentioned -- are just that. Symbols. That, in actuality, it's the meaning behind the symbol that is important. But I don't expect too many people to get that these days.
We only have the girl's word on what the English teacher, Scott Compton, was trying to get across with his demonstration. But the girl's dad, Michael Copleland, says the girl also said something about how the teacher said that "this is a symbol, but it’s only a piece of cloth. It doesn’t mean anything."
Well, in a way, he's correct. Soldiers don't go to war to fight for a piece of cloth. They fight for various ideals symbolized by that cloth -- such as freedom, democracy, etc. The cross is a symbol of Christianity. It's a symbol of values. Just because you step on a cross doesn't mean you're stepping on the values of Christians.
That said, symbols are extremely powerful. And the teacher should have known this. He should have known that stepping on a flag in front of a classroom full of kids was bound to draw some ire. Just as if he kissed a Nazi symbol, that would have drawn outrage. Maybe it's the subsequent outrage that he wanted -- so he could prove his point. Who knows.
Anyway, should this guy be fired? Not if he's a good teacher. No. They are too needed. In fact, people in the community describe him as a "good teacher." So what was he teaching by stomping on the flag? Will the kid in class who took notes come forward so we can know exactly what happened here?
Or maybe he should make everyone write an essay about how his stomping on the flag made them feel -- or better yet, how it made them THINK. If that's still allowed in school.
What do you think should happen to the teacher?
Image via CristianRH7/Flickr