English Teachers and Crazy Students

English teachers should not promise confidentiality to students when we assign writings to our college English students, according to a memo I received at work yesterday. Such promises "can put you in a bind if it turns out you are concerned and want to discuss the matter with others," the memo advises in the wake of the Virgina Tech massacre. By "a bind," I believe the ever-ambiguous mental health professionals who wrote the memo are suggesting "litigation."

An instructor's integrity--his or her commitment to keep a confidence--still counts for something, apparently. It's nice to know teachers can be held accountable for their word and even taken seriously as a source of insight. It's too bad so many young people have died before anyone thought to consider the power of language.

I am relieved that teachers of English are in the spotlight right now as recipients of SOS messages from troubled kids, (more)