Ask a Teacher: Do Teachers Ever Crush on Students?
Q: Do teachers ever crush on students?
A: Yes. And it’s always disgusting.
Even if there's not a Grand Canyon-type age difference between the teacher and the student, a teacher crush is very creepy.
I don’t have personal experience with this. I’ve never found myself infatuated with a student. Are there attractive students? Of course. I’d be blind if I said that there were no good-looking kids at places I've taught. But I look at them like I look at my nephew and niece—good-looking and totally children. Twenty years from now, when my sister’s kids are getting married and they’re hitting me up for honeymoon cash at the reception, I’ll still look at them as just that… kids.
Ideally, romantic relationships come from a place of equality. My wife is my equal (and more often my superior) in every aspect of our relationship. However, my relationships with my family are not as equal. My parents can still influence me more than most people because, well, they’ve been influencing me for 28 years. They’ve fed me, sacrificed for me, cleaned my diapers, nursed me back to health, paid my way, and have done thousands of things that I have not done for them. Why? Mostly because I’m awesome. But also because they’re bound by blood to guide me until the day they die.
And although my students are not related to me by blood, I still know that our relationship is one based on influence and trust. My students trust that the words and ideas that I express are true, or at least move them toward the truth. And by being in a position where it's understood that they—as pupils—don't yet understand concepts I've mastered, they are extremely vulnerable, intellectually and emotionally. This creates a very powerful level of trust that teachers should not break.
On one hand, teacher crushes are understandable. We are perpetually attempting to connect to our students on personal and emotional levels (because that’s when the best learning is done). But on the other hand, it’s reprehensible. Emotional connectivity gets confused for romantic intimacy by students and teachers alike. Judging by the seemingly endless news blotter where a teacher takes advantage of his or her student’s trust, this happens far too often. Some teachers are trying to reach the student and end up overstepping their boundaries. Others are trying to use the student as a means to feel younger or sublimate frustrations in their personal life (crappy relationships, poor self-esteem, etc.) into a relationship where they carry the power from the classroom into the (ugggghhh) bedroom.
When I was a teen, Britney Spears was the top male fantasy. And I’m guessing it wasn’t just my similarly-aged peers who were putting up her posters in their room. Today, it seems that Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, and Emma Watson are photographed and followed in a way that doesn’t just cater to teens, but creepy adult perverts. Teachers should be vigilant of the important boundaries we need to set in the ways we look at our students. If not, we’re not only going to harm our careers, but the trust of the very people we’re trying to help.
Mr. Jones is a high school teacher in Wisconsin. Surprisingly, he is married, and is the doting father to a lovely 4-year-old golden retriever.
Got a question for an English, science, math, writing, special ed, sociology, or PE teacher, or a specific question for Mr. Jones? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Have you ever heard of a teacher crushing on a student? Do you think it's ever okay?
Related post: Ask a Teacher: Do You Gossip About Students?