The Nobel Prize winners have been announced (Yay, smart people who are changing our world!)
One recipient, John Gurdon, is receiving extra attention not because of what he did but because of what was done to him. Someone dredged up an old report card of his from high school in which the teacher lambastes him for being a rebel, an outside-the-box thinker. The words that the teacher uses are horribly unkind and, if they were written today, the teacher would lose his job before he could say lawsuit.
One of my favorite FB sites, “I f*cking love science” posted a graphic with the remarks paraphrased– check it out here. I have no issue with the comments being brought to light. I do have a problem with the comments that follow the post.
There were some positive posts:
And then there were some not-so-positive posts:
And my all-time favorite:
Don’t forget the one that caused a WTF, YOU IDIOT! moment:
Huh? This doesn’t even make sense at all. Respect has to be earned. I work hard to ensure that my students respect me by being truthful, straight-forward, and fair. I expect the same from my students and won’t tolerate any less. I’ll be damned if I will “respect” <— WTF does that mean anyway??— > my students just because they might be a Nobel prize winner or president or a tyrannical dictator someday. If they are not at the level they should be, I let them know as kindly as possible. But they still need to know. How can you improve if you don’t know the truth about your abilities?? I’m so tired of being expected to coddle little (insert student name here) when they really need the truth and encouragement to get themselves out of the hole they’ve been allowed to dig for themselves.
Okay. Rant over. Wait… maybe not.
I know that I shouldn’t let it bother me, but it does. Every day people get bombarded by how horrible teachers are. Every day. You rarely turn on the news and see something positive about them. Every day I see the media/parents/students/my favorite authors talk about how horrible educators are.
Nobody asks us. Nobody tells our story.
Do you know how many principals I’ve had in the last 6 years (just in one district, mind you)? Four. Four changes in command. Four people with very different management styles and different focuses for the school vision. Four adults who my students feel have abandoned them. I don’t think everyone realizes how much kids yearn for stability. Sometimes school is the only stability that they have.
Did you know that, every year, teachers are told that their methods (that were successful the year before, btw) are now COMPLETELY wrong and have to be changed immediately? Not just a few aspects of their methods– oh no– everything that they do. Never mind the fact that they are master teachers and can show it because their students are LEARNING beyond the test. The new strategy du jour is more effective than anything else (even if it is largely untested).
Did you know that most teachers provide the basics for their students in the classroom? If I want to do anything with my students beyond pen and paper learning, I have to purchase all of the supplies. According to the district, there is not a budget for those things. Asking my students to bring their own doesn’t usually work– very few do. One teacher I know actually got reprimanded for asking students to bring supplies (not with my current administration– they’re lovely).
Did you know that, because of legislative budget cuts, most teachers in my district are getting paid much less for doing more work? Yet we still do it. Teachers are on campus at 6:00 in the morning working hard to give their students a head start. They stay until late grading papers and making parent phone calls. (I don’t even want to get started on parent phone calls. It is apparently the teachers responsibility to let the parents know if their students aren’t passing classes. If they aren’t passing classes, it is because teachers haven’t made the lessons entertaining or engaging enough. Because, you know, jobs are ALWAYS going to be entertaining and engaging… bah.)
I guess I’ll close with this. Teachers are PEOPLE. Yes, they are imperfect, but who isn’t? So many forget this, I think, and are vitriolic in their criticism. If someone did tell the teachers’ story, would anyone listen? Or is it so much easier to have a scapegoat for society’s ills?
Preach on. Not excusing the original teacher’s report card language or comments (horrific) – but your following insight is SPOT on to my experience.
(I always think about your “people” argument in the political season – one person’s “special interest” is another person’s lifeline / protection. I live in a non-union state, and never thought I would want a teacher’s union… UNTIL I had to fight by myself to not have to use a breast pump in the bathroom or common lounge.)
As always, well written and thoughtful. You rock.
Arizona is a non-union state as well. To add to the mix, we’ve got a legislature that detests public education. They are #1 in the country for cuts from the education over the course of five years. It makes me very sad.
I wonder if a union would help?
Thank you for reading and commenting. I really appreciate it.
If any parent ever gives you a hard time, let me at them. I can tell from your writing that you have a passion for your work that can’t be measured by any standard metric a principal might use.
Keep up the fine work.
Oh, I wish I could. Mostly I just want parents to start taking responsibility for their children. It used to be the exception but now it is becoming the rule. Sad teacher has sad….
I am very lucky because my administration this year is very supportive. We are having to change the way we teach, but it is because the standards have changed. Instead of focusing on little irrelevant facts, we get to focus on critical thinking and problem solving skills. You know, the way good teachers teach.
Thanks for stopping by! It’s always pleasant to see you. =)