Romance and the Classroom

We've all met them. They're young, handsome, newly qualified and out to see the world. John is just one more young man using his English teaching certificate to help him travel before he settles down. He's done a stint in Mexico, in China and now he's in Eastern Europe. Of course all his female students adore him. But John is too professional to become entangled with a student. But he's just discovered that situations can get very nasty despite his good intentions.

In his new class, one student, let's call her Olga, quickly fell under his spell. She was always waiting after class to ask him to explain something. John's only human and he was flattered by her attention so when she asked him to join her and her friends at a restaurant one evening, he didn't see any harm in it. Only there were no other friends and Olga made it clear that it wasn't just food on the menu. John dealt with her firmly but politely saying that teachers were not allowed to have relationships with students. He left the restaurant.

The next morning the Principal called him to her office. Olga had complained that he had sexually assaulted her and was threatening to go to the police unless John was sacked. Although the Principal believed John's version of events, the circumstantial evidence against him was grim. Other students confirmed that he often stayed behind in the classroom with Olga. John was so upset that he decided to resign in order to save the school embarrassment.

But what should he have done? Well, clearly, it's not a good idea to stay on in a classroom with a student of the opposite sex. He should also have reported the girl's infatuation to the Principal as soon as it was obvious and he should have asked another teacher to go to the restaurant with him if he still thought it was okay to go.

Maybe none of these measure would have deterred Olga, but at least they would have made it more difficult for her to make false allegations. What advice would you give to young men like John, I wonder.

By Brenda Townsend Hall

ESLemployment, Contributing Editor
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