Whenever the subject of teaching is brought up at social gatherings, the usual comments are heard. Must be nice to have three months a year off. The teachers are too soft on the students nowadays (usually from those without school age children). There is too much homework (usually from those with school age children). It seems that it is no longer the respected profession that it once was.
As student enrolment continues to drop and with the number of available teaching positions in schools also dropping, there isn’t the out pouring of support that other industries appear to receive. Does the perception of what a teacher does affect how we feel about them? Our own experiences tend to colour our opinions of school, good or bad, but for most of us, it has been long enough OUT of school that perhaps we do not realise exactly what being IN school is like.
Yes, teachers get a generous amount of time off. Yes, their wage is pretty impressive. No, those who can’t don’t just teach, plenty who can choose to teach anyway. My son’s jr Kindergarten teacher had been in the Navy and was still a reservist. It probably gave him good training to deal with my son. I don’t think the Royal Canadian Navy accepts those who can’t.
What do you know about being in a high school these days? Do you realise that teachers are verbally and physically assuaulted? Threatened by students, with the occasional threat being carried out? Do you understand that most high schools have a community police officer in the school building at least one day a week? Did you know that there is a website where students, anonymously, can comment on their teachers to their little hearts content.
Let’s go outside of the school walls for a moment. Students are not the only problem. Parents have gone from respecting and believing teachers and admin staff to believing their little snowflake over responsible adults. They can’t believe that their little Johnny or Emily could steal, use alcohol or drugs, sell drugs, bully or any other manner of anti-social behaviour, even when evidence is presented to them, usually because they never do it at home.
Too many parents seem to believe that the responsibility to making sure their children are ready for the world rests solely with the educational system rather than at their own feet. It can be hard enough teaching kids who don’t want to learn about history or math but when they are wearing headphones, texting, and being unruly, it makes the job almost impossible.
Of course, as mentioned earlier, peronal experience of school colours your judgement. I hated school, didn’t do well, wasn’t well liked, didn’t work hard, and was generally a little shit. Well a 6 ft tall shit but you get the picture. I didn’t think the teachers did very good jobs because they couldn’t keep my interest or attention. The affect that I had undiagnosed ADHD probably was the reason but at the time, it was because my English teacher would assign us books to read and then pick them apart, explaining the sub text, hidden meaning and everything that seemed to spoil a good story for me.
I always liked phys. ed. because I could run around like an idiot and not get into trouble for it. There are lots of jokes about phys. ed. teachers, almost as many as there are for drummers. Perhaps it is because they get to wear track pants and blow whistles and go outside and play games all day? It always seems to be overlooked that not only are they playing games and blowing their little whistles but they are hopefully instilling confidence into the students, showing them how important health really is and showing them how they could be fitter in the future.
I am as guilty as anyone else. In my world, the pecking order of easy pickings is drummers, phys ed teachers, drama teachers (look happy, now look sad), and girls who make duck faces. But just because I say that an IQ of 6000 is equal to 6000 phys ed teachers doesn’t mean I don’t respect what they are doing.
If children are the future, shouldn’t we respect the teachers as the support needed to get them there?