The recent World Teachers’ Day celebrations have put me in a rather reflective mood. I don’t think of myself as a deep thinker or a philosopher but I do love what I do. I have strong beliefs about the impact that teachers can make in ensuring the future of this world is better than the present.
I type this post with great trepidation. I know I might not be able to enter my school after this is posted and possibly I will lose the few friends that I have. However, the truth must be told. Some teachers are not noble. By nobility, I am referring to a person having a high level of character or moral principles.
When I was in university studying for my Bachelors of Education, I often heard my lecturers say that teaching is a ‘noble profession’ and that you had to be called into it as if it was by divine order. At the time, I was not entirely sure I understood why they continued to all echo the same refrain. However, after spending sometime in the classroom, I began to understand what they were saying. Yes, teaching is a noble profession. I am still not one hundred percent sure that you have to have a divine calling, though.
What makes it so noble? Well, you are volunteering a great amount of your time for the good of your students with no additional compensation. You take your work home; actually you tend to take it everywhere you go. I know teachers (this includes me) who think about lessons at the weirdest possible moments. Your students become extensions of your own family and you refer to them as your kids. We all know very well how far above and beyond teachers go to ensure that their students succeed. O.K. noble teachers you are free to hop off the train at this stop, as I am about to touch on some really uncomfortable issues.
Over the years, I have met some colleagues who have made me seriously consider homeschooling my own children. They speak so badly of the children they teach. They call them horrible names, assume the worst of them and label them in very derogatory ways. Yes, I know that not all children are easy to teach and I have had my days of whining and wishing one or two particular students were absent on a permanent basis. However, I am sure we are able to tell the difference between a colleague who is having a bad day and one who is constantly spewing venom at or about the students they teach. I recently heard a fellow teacher say, “I don’t like children at all”. I was at first taken aback and then I became sad. I was sad for her, as she has to interact everyday with people she greatly dislikes and sad for the students who are subject to her daily instructions.
Why have these teachers become so disenchanted? There was a period of time when teaching was seen as one of the most stable of professions and that once you are a teacher you have a job for life. Many gravitated towards the profession with that in mind, without considering all that teaching students entailed. Once the reality of the job set in, they became apathetic.
In some cases, the endless initiatives and reforms have left many teachers disillusioned. The fact that persons who have never set foot inside a classroom are proposing the majority of the reforms, has added to heightening the levels of frustration these educators feel.
The point that some teachers hate what they do is, I believe, no surprise to anyone. I don’t believe this post is sharing any groundbreaking new discovery. Still, I do believe that it is a topic that needs to be discussed more openly among educators. Educators should feel empowered enough to know when it is time to look for opportunities outside of the classroom and perhaps outside of education. There needs to be more counselling and psychological help for teachers who are feeling burnt out and stressed. Sometimes all an ignoble educator needs is a listening ear, a nonjudgmental colleague who can help them either ignite or reignite their love for their students and the profession.