04/26/2012 04:55 pm ET Updated Jun 26, 2012

The Joy of Teaching

To say that this past week was a tad bizarre seems a bit of an understatement. As I strangely became the focus of unwanted national attention, and I experienced quite a roller coaster ride of emotional extremes, from embarrassment to pride, tears to laughter, exhaustion to exhilaration.

Ultimately, I must say that I am left with an overriding sense of gratitude. I am immensely grateful to all of you for your phenomenal level of support, and also very grateful to be reminded of why I feel so passionate about teaching; what it is that makes teaching such a truly joyful experience for me.

As the week unfolded and the truth began to emerge, it became obvious that nothing newsworthy took place in my classroom on Tuesday. I wish that I could take credit for something innovative and truly groundbreaking, but I cannot. Those courageous and pioneering efforts took place more than 40 years ago as others paved the way for human sexuality courses to be taught at universities across the nation.

However, out of this non-event in the classroom countless opportunities have emerged for those teachable moments that we all relish. Lively classroom discussions have already been triggered on such issues as journalistic ethics, academic freedom and the power of social networking.

Of even greater significance to me, the controversy has focused attention on the offering of human sexuality courses. My current and former students from the course have been absolutely stunned by the media exposure surrounding the viewing of this educational video, and the mischaracterization of the very nature of human sexuality courses. They have also been incredibly fascinated by the very polarized opinions being posted online, particularly those expressing outrage that such a course even exists in a university setting.

I strongly believe that the debate stirred up over this controversy actually serves to reinforce the profound need to offer these very courses in human sexuality. Students come together in a sexuality class representing a diversity of sexual attitudes, values and experiences, with varying cultural, religious and political beliefs. Spending a semester learning from one another heightens their awareness of these differences promoting greater respect and understanding.

Clearly ignorance is not bliss when it comes to one's sexuality. These courses also provide students with essential information to make informed decisions to better protect their sexual health and to enhance the quality of their relationships.

Again, I cannot thank that you all enough for the kindness that you expressed as you shared your words of encouragement through conversations, voicemails and emails ... all treasured by me. I am also indebted to those of you as reporters who were interested in not just getting a story, but both sides of the story.

With gratitude,

Peg Gish