Thanks to Tom Wayman for this succinct expression of teacher disenfranchisement when being asked this question.
I wanted to include it here because there are people who actually ask the question of what this means, which is cause for further despair.
Tom is a Canadian teacher. I also wanted to include it because these sentiments are occurring all over the world.
The third reason is his gender. As a man he still experiences the total disregard that women have been experiencing during their careers as teachers. When a man expresses what women have been expressing, people tend to forego attributing it to our gender’s disadvantages. It is less likely to be seen as “just something she doesn’t like” or other whim.
When I want a student to consider another topic, for example, for a speech or essay, trying to get them to think I little more deeply, I am met with “Well, she didn’t like it so I changed it.”
Karen Armstrong, an Oxford graduate, noted thinker, and author of numerous lauded books on God and religion, discovered this same disregard while a teacher in England, described in her memoir The Spiral Staircase.
And lastly, he is my age, but I imagine we both came to feel like this some years ago.
Here are Tom’s words:
“Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours.
Everything. I gave an exam worth
40 percent of the grade for this term
and assigned some reading due today
on which I’m about to hand out a quiz
worth 50 percent.
Nothing. None of the content of this course
has value or meaning
Take as many days off as you like:
any activities we undertake as a class
I assure you will not matter either to you or me
and are without purpose
Everything. A few minutes after we began last time
shaft of light suddenly descended and an angel
or other heavenly being appeared
and revealed to us what each woman or man must do
to attain divine wisdom in this life and
This is the last time the class will meet
Nothing. When you are not present
how could something occur?
Everything. Contained in this classroom
is a microcosm of human experience
assembled for you to query and examine and ponder
This is not the only place such an opportunity has been gathered
but it was one place
And you weren’t here.”