I’ve never heard of a teacher being dismissed for ‘obesity’ but I guess it begs the question: is there a point at which some personal issue in our lives – our weight for example – might have a bearing on our professional position?
It is of course conceivable that becoming obese might inhibit us from carrying out the roles and responsibilities of our job – if I were PE teacher for example – where the physical demands of the job are particularly acute – or a nursery teacher, where my responsibility to quickly evacuate young children from a building in an emergency would be crucial.
Is there a point (and where is it?) that others might legitimately question confidence in my ability to do my job effectively – like the employers of the hapless airline steward did?
And where does all this stop? What about other personal issues?
I met a student recently doing a maths degree at a top university who wanted to go on to train as a teacher. She was bright, articulate, sociable, worldly and wanted to work in an inner-city school – she was gold dust for the teaching profession.
She also had body piercings in her nose, lips and ears and tattoos covering her neck and arms.
Does it matter? It certainly wouldn’t stop her becoming an excellent maths teacher if she had the aptitude and talent.
But is there a point at which others, parents for example, might not want their children taught by such a person? Are there issues for her colleagues too? Do either of them have a right to say so?
And what if you are a chain-smoking teacher? Is that the business of anyone else but you and your tobacconist?
I was at school in the 1970’s. In those days, staff room doors opened and clouds of cigarette smoke billowed out. I don’t remember thinking any the worse of my teachers for their chain smoking habits – as some of them clearly had.
These ‘boundaries’ between our personal and professional lives… where do they end?