As every teacher knows, having a parent file a complaint against you can be the beginning of the ending of your career. I am a recently retired New York City Department of Education high school English teacher, having taught from 1987 until 2016, so I have some experience on what I am writing about.
In this episode, a student who thinks for himself and doesn't agree with everything his father, a doctor, thinks starts to argue with his parents, mostly with his father, about everything. The father decides to pursue disciplinary action against social studies teacher Pete Dixon for teaching subversive information to his students.
I have had friends who have been brought down to the principal's office to have discussions with parents who were upset or disturbed by something a teacher had to say or taught. The teachers in those cases were only doing what they should have been doing: opening their students' minds with all sides of an issue. One parent complained about one of my colleagues when she brought up the Oedipal Complex issue when teaching seniors Aldous Huxley's amazing novel BRAVE NEW WORLD (1932). After that confrontation, she decided to play it safe, omit the information from future teaching units, and not be as forthcoming in her desire to educate and inform. Sad to say but this is how we teachers have to work now.
At one point in the episode, Grady, the student who has run away from home, shows up at Mr. Dixon's home. Dixon invites him in, serves him milk and cookies, and convinces him to go home. They show up at the boy's home and his parents invite them both in and the issue begins to be resolved. NEVER in a million years would any teacher I know INVITE a student inside their home. Today, with all the allegations that could occur, you would have the student wait outside and then make a phone call in public. I don't think we would even ever drive them home ourselves - not unless you want any sexual allegations to start.
What I love about Room 222 is that it showed a black male teacher (a rarity) in a strong and admirable way. The series tried to tackle issues and present story-lines that showed how things were changing. I am watching the series now (after remembering it when I was a child) since the first two seasons out of five have been released on dvds.
Watching Boston Public several years ago and now watching Room 222, I am amused and amazed how some things have changed and some things have stayed the same.
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