All sides played a role in speaker backlash

first_imgCategories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion The backlash from writer Nancy Jo Sales’ visit to Ballston Spa High School [BSHS] recently seems like a never-ending finger-pointing debacle.From an outsider’s perspective, it appears a better show of respect and decorum should have occurred among all three sides involved — students, school officials and Ms. Sales herself. This wasn’t the case, and so here we are.Sales has written extensively about modern teen culture, studying American teenagers since the 1990s. So perhaps it’s safe to suggest she should know a thing or two in relating to them. With this incident at BSHS, this wasn’t Sales’ first trip to the rodeo. She has spoken at many schools before, including another one in the Capital District. From various reports, Sales’ demeanor toward the students at BSHS appeared more disciplinarian than supportive — especially when commotion ensued. That’s not going to win much respect with students. And as someone with as much experience reporting on and speaking with teenagers for over 20 years, she should know that.Additionally, if there’s a cyber-bullying problem at this school, Sales should have left that to the professionals at the school in addressing the issue. That’s not up to her to decide. Her training is in literature, with a MFA [Master in Fine Arts] in writing — not psychology, not education. Her job that day was to give a talk, to connect with students, and offer them peace of mind.Instead, the students were subjected to a patronizing tone by yet another adult, on a stage, talking down to them, brushing aside their voices. Teachers and administrators past and present know full well that technique rarely works in developing a good rapport with teenagers.Later, a good teacher will spin this unfortunate event into a positive learning tool for the students at BSHS. How will Sales spin this event? Robert O’BrienAshville, North Carolina The writer is a former area resident.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationSchenectady, Saratoga casinos say reopening has gone well; revenue down 30%last_img read more