The public has been encouraged to target practice on teachers and education in general because it is free of any accountability for accuracy or verification.
The ease with which I can find negative images for teaching in free graphics is one proof.
Here are the top ten slanders I hear from my point of view that demoralize teachers:
- “They don’t teach what they need to.” Or “Teachers don’t take time to make the class interesting.”
This charge is leveled whenever there is any societal ill or agenda that patrons believe is not being addressed. This is a favorite no-win for educators because no organization could address all the expectations leveled at schools. On the other hand, if schools try to meet these unrealistic expectations, they are criticized as needing to “get back to the basics.” A favorite book reflecting this criticism was The Shopping Mall High School by Arthur G. Powell, published in 1986. It is still being reviewed and discussed today. Recent Facebook posts are demanding gardening and any other assortment of goals, not realizing that, if adopted, it will end up as just another task on an already overworked teacher’s desk. Another favorite is the minimalist approach, an assertion that really only five..or whatever number below 10…things are needed to be taught. On the other end of the spectrum is the rocket science curriculum for the third graders. The roles continue to multiply: entertainer, disciplinarian, nurse, cop, counselor, in loco parentis (resented), social worker, endlessly.
- “They get full time pay for part time work.” This misconception arises from equating the school day to the full extent of the work that teachers do. Actually mandatory paid sabbaticals should be the norm to allow teachers to replenish themselves emotionally, energetically and professionally instead of mandating irrelevant workshops a. before school; b. after school; c. on weekends; d. in the summer. The three month vacation for teachers is a thing of the past. The fact that students are not in school does not mean that the teacher is off of work
.8.“Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” A cloaked version is “It’s not ‘real world’”. The idea that the instruction takes place in a classroom is the basis for this falsehood, as if the classroom were located in outer space. A favorite of business and proprietary schools, it is used to suggest that academics are irrelevant or that teachers have no practical skills and teach because that is all they can do. In spite of the reality that teachers possess highly marketable skills that would be compensated better in other careers, this slander persists. Businesses then set up their own training (in classrooms) and tout that their instructors have “real world experience” (they are not certified or trained in education). The fact that schools have provided “vocational training” for centuries is overlooked. Also overlooked is the fact that any country functions based on skills taught in the classroom and that is why free public education is a foundation for our democracy. As anyone who has tried knows, teaching is a separate proficiency from subject matter knowledge.
7 “I pay your salary. Do your job.” The amount of your taxes would pay for approximately 15 minutes of instruction. You’ve already used that. The teacher is basically donating the rest.
6 “Anyone can do it.” Or “Well, you can always teach.” A corollary of No. 6, it differs in reversing it to a pseudo-advantage. It’s a bottom line option, offering a last ditch effort to earn money, easy, requiring no specialized knowledge or skills, basically a placeholder for the warehouse of children who are kept off the street and out of our hair.
5 “I’ll respect you when you respect me.” Backed by parents, students feel entitled to challenge any part of a teacher’s task. They use this statement to convey the reality of their privilege to reject whatever the teacher is asking them to do. A corollary is what students tell their own parents: “You don’t understand” means “I didn’t get the answer I wanted.” Some parents goad their children on with statements like “Don’t let that teacher get away with anything”. Others merely project their own frustrations and inability to manage their children onto the teacher. Some parents are actually bullied by their children and are ashamed to seek help. The effect for teachers is the same: the lack of the key element that is essential for any instruction: respect.
4“If teachers did their jobs, our country wouldn’t have the problems we have.” Another way to blame those with the least authority. Every societal problem is laid at the classroom door as if the teacher could pull a bunny out of the hat and solve it all. Those expectations are contradictory, and too numerous for any institution to meet. As a power vacuum in our nation, teachers become the easiest target to attack. Recently a book was published criticizing teachers for all the failed reform movements, the author apparently unaware that they had not initiated or developed any of them because they were too busy in the classroom to be part of the university or corporate programs sold to legislatures and then mandated for teachers to implement. And as mentioned in a previous post, Ttump is our fault too. Never mind the 30 year war that conservatives have waged against educational stability.
3“She gave me a bad grade.”
The implication here is that the grade the student received has no relationship to what the student actually did or didn’t do, but rather is based on the whims of the teacher, the desire to punish, the incompetence to evaluate fairly, or some other (dare I say it) female related instability.
- “There aren’t enough good teachers out there.”
The underlying assumption here is that the teachers who are out there practicing aren’t good. Another no win slander.
- And the number one favorite is “Teachers today don’t care.” I notice this is said in inverse proportion to the amount of tuition the patron pays. For example, parents who pay for pricy private or religious schools tend to attribute a high level of caring to teachers in their system because not to, would be paramount to admitting they are paying for inferior service. The same behaviors or even higher standard behaviors among public school teachers do not prevent the teacher from being charged with “not caring.” Abuses among church or other private schools are not acknowledged, patrons quietly either ignoring them or leaving.