6 February 2016

Teacherism

Racism is when someone is treated differently or unfairly just because of their race or culture. People can also experience prejudice because of their religion or nationality. It is illegal to treat people differently or unfairly because of their race.
Childline Charity website
Sidney Poitier in "To Sir With Love" (1967)
It can be difficult but in my life I strive to avoid prejudice and expect that the vast majority of readers of this blogpost also try to live lives that are not sullied with prejudice. Prejudice is the domain of the ill-informed, the cruel and the stupid. In extremis, prejudice may cause war, murder, torture, arson and other horrible manifestations of prejudicial thinking.

In quieter, everyday terms, prejudice may simply cause other people to be unhappy and feel alienated, misunderstood, belittled.

Because I rarely bang on about it, some visitors to this blog may be unaware that for thirty five years of my life, the way that I earned money was through teaching. So naturally, I know a lot about teachers. This despite the fact that none of my three brothers were teachers and despite the fact that socially I tended to avoid teachers because I didn't want work to overlap into my social time. I preferred to talk with joiners, plumbers, warehousemen, guitarists, the unemployed and nurses. In fact, how they happened to earn money didn't really mean much to me. People are much more than the jobs they do. Though my job was teaching that was never who I was.

In those thirty five years, the main thing I discovered about teachers is that they are all different. They are not like a shoal of mackerel swimming in the sea - all pretty much the same. To begin with you have different subjects and P.E. teachers may be noticeably different from say English teachers or Science teachers. You have got women teachers and men teachers, black teachers and gay teachers, inner city teachers and teachers working in cushy little private schools, teachers with disabilities and teachers who are so passionate about their work that they gladly put in sixty or seventy hours a week, secretly toiling at their desks during the holidays and late into the night. Commitment beyond the call of duty that "The Daily Mail" and the general public never see. Equally, you can have lazy teachers who do the bare minimum to get by but these are generally "found out" by the children they face each day.

In short, teaching is like any other job. Everybody's different and therefore it is surely ignorant to lump all teachers together. Would we say - I hate nurses or - I hate engineers? No. For that would clearly be stupid  prejudice. I call the blanket judging of teachers teacherism and in recent days I have discovered quite a bit of teacherism within the blogosphere. Quite surprising really and from  my point of view very objectionable.

One blogger suggested that all teachers are miserable, they talk about nothing but teaching and they have summer beach holidays that last six weeks or more. Another said he had taught in a private school for a couple of years when he was younger and it was much harder than working in a state school - even though he had never taught in a challenging urban area or dealt with children from disadvantaged  homes! Such correspondents are clearly teacherists and in my opinion teacherism belongs in the same bag as racism and sexism. It's all prejudice.

In general, this country's schoolteachers are doing a damned good job of  serving our nation's children to the best of their ability. It is an important role - not made any easier by interfering politicians, the squeeze on resources, sensationalist newspapers, large class sizes and ignorant teacherists who deride the profession and wear their sneering teacherism on their sleeves. Thankfully, most parents, most schoolchildren and most fair-minded members of the general public appreciate the sterling efforts of our largely gifted teaching force and these bigoted teacherists are very much in the minority.

George Bernard Shaw's silly but oft-quoted "Man and Superman" line -  "Those who can do, those who can't teach" should probably be extended to read - "Those who can do. those who can't teach and those who can neither do or teach wallow in ignorant teacherism."

28 comments:

  1. Well, this old teacher(37 years) certainly agrees with your post. I always felt that my community supported me and in so doing I could do a much better job.

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    1. Having support and feeling valued is important in all jobs. It builds confidence and effectiveness.

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  2. In my opinion, I believe teaching is one hell of a job...and very difficult job. As each day goes by it's becoming even more difficult as more pressures and responsibilities are placed on the shoulder of the teachers of our children. Responsibilities that should be on the shoulders of the parents. Teachers in so many instances are having to take on the parental job as well.

    These days it appears teachers not only have to teach the curriculum to the students but they have to be substitute parents, psychologists, disciplinarians, dietitians...on and on etc., etc., et al. And now they're also being asked to be on the alert for the radicalisation of any of students; for them to be on the look-out for signs that a pupil might be headed that way.

    http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/school-life/teachers-facebook-post-on-why-she-quit-teaching-goes-viral/news-story/11ff51f580975b329e8224c10fb76da2

    Some people just have no idea...not a clue...what teachers of their children have to bear, deal with, cope with. Some people should not be parents. Too many people off-load their own responsibilities onto the shoulders of teachers.

    End of my lecture!

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    1. Exactly !!! One of the hardest jobs in the worldf.

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    2. I hope that other people will check out the link you kindly provided Lee. Kathy Margolis says it all so clearly.

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    3. Right on Lee! I felt very similar to the way she feels when I retired. I was so sad that I had come to hate the job I had loved for so many years.

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  3. The bloggers you mention have an opinion on everything but know nothing. I pop by their blogs for a laugh but never regard their posts as anything but the ramblings of disturbed minds.
    Now, about the bloody teachers. I'm eternally grateful as they taught me everything I know.

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    1. Ha! Ha! I certainly wasn't thinking of you when I composed this post Adrian but I know for sure that the last sentence was said with your tongue pushed so firmly in your cheek that it threatened to burst through!

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    2. I know who you were referring to. You are unlikely to bump into the male as he shops in Waitrose. You may see the female as she is a football hooligan or should that be supporter.

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    3. Hell! You should have been a copper! Detective Inspector A. Ward. I didn't think I had provided enough clues.

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  4. One of my best friends teaches children with special needs, in a poor and predominantly African American county, and she's truly one of the best people I know. She loves kids that are often very hard to love, and will fight tooth and nail to get them the resources (and respect) that they deserve. She works extremely hard, for very little money, and often puts in long hours "off the clock". She deserves nothing but the utmost respect and I'm proud to call her my friend.

    Of course some teachers are lousy. As you said, there are good, bad, and mediocre people in every profession (and trade). But I have nothing but respect for most teachers I meet, who do a hard job that will never make them rich (at least not in the financial sense).

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    1. Thank you for your fair-mindedness Jennifer.

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  5. Well said YP. And may I add that that bottom photograph should be an inspiration to us all.

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    1. Malala has been a real champion for teaching and education. Thanks for dropping by again Mrs Weaver. Did you bring an umbrella - it seems to be raining outside.

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  6. As you said, like in any job, there are those who are really good at it and those who aren't, those who do their job with passion and enthusiasm and those who try to do as little as possible.
    My teachers were a mix of men and women, younger and older ones, nice ones and some I didn't really like. But they all made sure we (I) learned something, even though maybe they did not always manage to bring their subject across in an interesting manner. But those who did - we really loved them, and some of my teachers were outstanding. Take my English teacher, for example. True, a lot of the English I speak and write today came to me through my husband. But if it had not been for that particular teacher laying down the language's fundament in my 10-year-old mind, I doubt I'd have the same command of it as I have now.

    For all those reasons you mentioned, I would never want to have to work as a teacher. I am neither patient nor "good" enough.

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    1. I think you would make a great fashion teacher Meike. There would be a changing room next to your classroom and lessons would simply consist of you putting on new outfits and parading around the classroom. This would work best in a girls' school.

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  7. Well said YP. My daughter in law is a teacher and she has really opened my eyes - she works so hard and never complains.

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    1. Not complaining? She must have learnt that from her mother in law!

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  8. Great post, YP, and great comments too! My mother was a teacher, two of my three children are teachers, and in my long career in computer software I have written a few user manuals and taught a few classes myself. But I wanted to say three things after finishing your excellent essay.

    First, in my country the politically correct class have redefined racism as the ill treatment of a member of a minority race by a member of the majority race. They are therefore insistent and will claim to their dying breaths and impose on the rest of society that it is impossible for an African-American to be racist. To this I say, "Poppycock!", "Balderdash!", and other mostly unprintable expletives.

    Second, we now know how you and Shirley met. She was an unemployed nurse playing guitar in front of a warehouse that lacked a loo, trying to raise money to install one herself. You passed by and threw a few coins from your meager salary into her kettle, and that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Thank you for revealing subliminally this beautiful love story.

    Third, at Teachers Colleges here (nowadays calledEducation Departments of universities), students sometimes expand upon George Bernard Shaw's line as follows: "Those who can do, those who can't teach, and those who can't teach teach teachers."

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    1. Thank you for your erudite and supportive response Mr Brague.

      I chuckled at the second paragraph. How did you know that that is exactly what happened? With your IBM honed computer skills you have, no doubt, been hacking into my laptop!

      Regarding the re-definition of racism, it's like changing the commandments in George Orwell's "Animal Farm". Of course there can be racists within minority groups. It works both ways and I recall complaining about the food in an Indian-run restaurant in Times Square. The manager's response was, "You English people are all, the same! Always complaining!" I saw red and accused him of unnecessary and blatant racism which made his jaw drop. By the way the food was horrible...and it wasn't Indian fayre either.

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    2. Heartily agree with your last quote Robert.

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  9. Well, I just loved this post. My sister was a teacher/principal and many friends are also. In my humble opinion, there is no profession more noble than teaching.

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    1. Thanks for reading my post and showing your support Donna. Another profession that often gets knocked is social work. I have so much respect for the work they do - often in very trying circumstances with their heads filled with red tape knowledge.

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  10. Great, thoughtful post as usual, Mr. Pudding. As a child and young adult, I got more respect and encouragement and discourse and love from my teachers and my schools than I did at home. So, I appreciated all my teachers.

    There is one thing that I completely agree with and that I try to live my life by. Nobody should be defined by one thing. Skin color does not define a person. A job does not define a person. The homeless are not just homeless....they have stories and hopes and personalities. Alcoholics are not just that......they are people who drink too much but who have cultural connections and dreams of doing better. The only thing that I think defines people and then, hopefully, for just a time might be PTSD in some form or another. We all need to look at one another and really see the person there.

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    1. Thank you. As usual we are on the same wavelength Mama Thyme. It is far too easy and indeed facile to label people. I hate it when pretty much the first question a new acquaintance asks is "What do you do?"

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  11. A heartfelt post Mr Pudding. I've often thought of jotting down all the many news items and campaigns you hear about in the media that say 'education is the answer' and demand that this, that and the other is added to the curriculum. If they did all that, there would be precious little time for teaching the things that teachers are there for.

    I suspect that the attitude to teachers in other cultures is rather different. As you know, Miss P is teaching in Japan at the moment and has just been offered a sizeable pay rise to sign on for another year which demonstrates that they want to keep the people they value.

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    1. In Thailand there is a national teachers' day when pupils and the country at large show their gratitude and respect towards teachers - through flowers, gifts and blessings. Will Miss P stay in Japan I wonder? Perhaps you and your jailer could visit or have you already done that?

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  12. Perhaps it's a generation thing?
    I'm sorry to say that all the teachers I knew, as an adult, so of a similar age to myself, were the most miserable bunch of people. Of course there must have been others that didn't complain, but I'm afraid the ones I came into contact with could have won a Gold Medal in moaning. To be charitable, perhaps it was their way of letting off steam after a frustrating day in the classroom.
    I have nothing against teaching as a profession. The ones who taught me through my school years (late 40's,50's and early 60's) were excellent, totally dedicated and knew their subjects.

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Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.