Finally, a dose of sanity in a hysteria-filled world.
A Georgetown University professor explains in a must-read op-ed in the Wall Street Journal why he will be on campus and teaching students in the classroom when the new semester begins.
Well, for one thing teaching is his job. It is what he is paid to do. John Hasnas is an ethics professor at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business and also teaches at the University’s Law Center. Hasnas writes:
Georgetown University has given all its faculty, including me, the option to teach in the classroom or remotely via computer during the fall semester. Even though my age places me in the high-risk category, I’ve elected to teach in person. I feel I have an obligation to do so.
Covid-19 is a fact of life. There is no alternative to learning to live with the risk of infection as generations before us lived with similar dangers. My father used to describe what it was like living with the risk of disease when he was a boy before antibiotics. My older relatives told me what it was like living with the risk of polio before the Salk vaccine. Covid-19 is part of our environment. The only options we have are to take reasonable precautions and get on with life or to hide from it.
For the past four months, I have watched people younger than myself risk infection for my benefit. People who are often the age of my students have kept grocery stores open for me, cooked and delivered food to my home, worked in warehouses, loaded and driven trucks to deliver packages to me, worked in meat-processing plants and other links in the supply chain to ensure that I have what I need for a comfortable life, and worked in hospitals so that I can get treatment if I get sick. I would feel ungenerous if I were unwilling to run some risk of infection myself to provide my services to them.
Teaching university and law students doesn’t qualify as an essential service, as that term is currently defined. But I wouldn’t be a professor if I did not believe that there was significant value in higher education. Given what the younger generations have done for me, I believe that I have a responsibility to give them the best learning experience I can, and that means being in the classroom with them.
Contrast Mr. Hasnas’ attitude to that of retired teacher California school teacher Cynthia Blackwell who is telling parents not to send their kids back to school. She says of re-opening efforts:
‘They’re putting every child, teacher at risk,’ she said. ‘Children are getting sick and I know a lot of my friends who are still teaching have elderly parents like I do. They can’t be bringing things home.’
This is hysteria: We can’t go to work because of our elderly parents?
Surely, the more balanced response is to take precautions and, if elderly parents are really at risk, only then opt for staying away from one’s job.
Mr. Hasnas thinks what he does matters. What he teaches is of value to students, and his own work ethic is of value to himself. I can’t help thinking that the recalcitrance of many educators to return to their jobs is a tacit admission that they don’t really believe in the value of their “product.”