Teacher My Teacher
For decades now educators have contended with cutbacks disguised as education reform policies. And also for decades, educators are witnessing a gradual negative shift in their work domain and how they are perceived in society. So it must come as no surprise, that there is a breaking point where an educator says: “Enough is enough.”
Yet instead of understanding the recent teachers’ strikes; the educators were greeted with ridicule and disdain by politicians; parents were annoyed that their children were missing classes and others complained of spoilt lazy teachers. What we saw was an egoistical bunch protesting a ‘minor cut’ in their 8-weeks long summer-vacation; while the rest of us slave for an average meagre 4-weeks break a year.
This is what we saw. But what is really going on?
The Clean-up Crew
It is common knowledge that every new government administration wants to leave its mark. So in order to achieve this, they break off policies instigated by their predecessors and they implement ‘new’ ones. And where education is concerned, as a consequence schools are slowly but surely evolving into the designated ‘clean-up crew’. They are the ones left responsible for piecing everything back together again each time a new ‘reform policy bomb’ is dropped.
And though educators are doing the best they can, they see their salaries dwindling; the red tape piling up; classes bursting at the seams and an inversely proportional decline of quality. And to the boot of it —as if being a part of some bad farce— they are blamed by policy makers for the mess. Over and over and over again.
Still wondering why teachers are frustrated?
What do teachers really teach?
Nowadays, being a teacher is a very dangerous profession. With society spiralling out of control on violence; this is reflected in the schoolyards and on campuses. In spite of it all, teachers continue teaching.
They do it for the love of it. They do it because they want to make a difference.
Sure, there are some baddies out there. We all know the horror stories. There’s the washed-out teacher, in whose classes you simply stared out the window; too numbed to jump out. Or there’s the one of the teacher who ‘had it in for you’ and wilfully ‘kept you back’; making your learning path double difficult and unnecessarily long.
Even so, for every bad teacher, there is a plenty fold of good ones. I remember my sixth grade teacher, who stood up for me while other pupils badgered me for being somewhat different and geeky with my heavy Caribbean English accent and thick glasses. My teacher incited in me tolerance and an open mind. At a very young age, I learnt that ‘the truth’ and ‘the right thing’ don’t necessarily coincide with what the masses may claim or do.
Then there were the warm Tuesday afternoons in high school. We were scheduled in the stuffy barracks for Dutch language. Our teacher kept us awake by pacing about and reciting medieval poetry. I’ve never heard anything more rhythmic or more beautiful. And I’m convinced up to this day, that’s one of the reasons why I love to be immersed in foreign languages and dialects. Why I love the characteristic sound of accents.
Political Philosophy was one of my favourite courses in college. I clung to every word as our teacher sketched out the various philosophical theories and their places in politics. In those classes I learnt to discern the big picture and how past ideologies still trickles through in the present day lives of the ‘common man’ on the street.
What do teachers really make?
Taylor Mali is well-known in the Slam Poetry movement. Having himself been a teacher for nine years, he now vocally advocates the profession and the nobility of teaching.
Mali takes on the derogatory qualification “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”
In a sharp witty three minutes performance, he reminds us of what really goes on in a classroom. After watching Mali, you will think twice before ever dismissing an educator again. Or as an educator, let yourself be dismissed.
The profession of all professions
At the end of the day, when all is said and done, education remains the profession of all professions. It’s the essential starting point for all that we aspire, achieve and become later on in life. And teachers do play a catalytic role in this process.
I’m very grateful to my teachers. And I gladly acknowledge how they’ve influenced my life.
What about you?
(Source image used: Unknown)
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