Gary March 30th, 2015
I have come across educators first as a student and then as a parent. Some of them have been exceptional people, which I believe is what made them good teachers or principals, as students imbibe more from a teacher’s actions than their words. When actions don’t corroborate words, then comes disillusionment.
One of my first memories: I once found a wad of money while picking litter from the school grounds, which I dutifully handed to the supervising teacher, specifically stating that someone might have lost it. The teacher shamelessly pocketed the money right before my eyes! The incident has stayed with me for several decades as I write this. I had the morals to not keep the money, but a teacher who is supposed to be one teaching them had none.
The most consistent issue I have encountered with educators is ego. I have experienced, seen or heard of everything from a student being reprimanded, to being hit or caned, because a student bruised a teacher’s ego. It could be called by any name, from setting a precedent to punishment or discipline, but it is about fixing the teacher’s self image, not about the student.
A teacher’s ego was once so hurt, she blatantly said that there is no democracy in school, that it is a dictatorship and the student has no rights! And that seems to more and more be the case. A vice principal might say things like, “You have to respect authority”, without himself earning the respect of or giving respect to the student; and give the example of traffic police, as in, “Would you challenge the authority of the police or not follow traffic lights?” They miss the point and are comparing apples to oranges. The other teachers, support staff, vice principal and principal all have each other’s back and misuse authority whereby they lose all respect as students are very perceptive. Whereas in the real world, power is divested between the police, judge, jury and prison warden. A judge would not be automatically inclined to issue a warrant just because a police officer believes someone committed an offence. As such they are held to a much higher standard of conduct. Schools are not held to the same level of accountability and try to protect theirs and themselves.
Often teachers become loud, obnoxious and obstinate in the face of reason, in an attempt to assert their authority. The only thing it affirms is their frail ego, insecurity and poor character.
Personal baggage is likely another form of low sense of self worth and corresponding efforts to feel good about oneself, that results in the unfair treatment of students.
A pseudo-feminist teacher reprimanded a male student for so much as defending himself from a larger, tougher and older female bully, stating that a boy can hit a boy, a girl can hit a girl, a girl can hit a boy [and they would look away], but never can a boy hit a girl no matter how extenuating the circumstances. Does that not just go to create misogynists?
Another teacher viewed an innocent drawing of a girl, reproduced from an anime character, as being, “degrading to women” and asked the student to change it; whereas when shown to another, older teacher, as a [true] feminist she had absolutely no issue with it. As a consequence of telling on the teacher, the teacher prohibited the student from ever handing in reproduced art for her class. This once again demonstrates that the student always pays for the teacher’s insecurities. A female teacher who carries her sentiments with respect to patriarchy to school and punishes students to feel superior, is what is really degrading to women.
Picking on a student is extremely abusive. If a student disobeys, a teacher makes his life miserable. A student used a laptop to accomplish a task instead of paper. The teacher retaliated with revoking his privilege to eat or drink anything (except water) or listen to music, or talk in class. Yes, the student should be following instructions, but the teacher should not be punishing him with power play either.
Teachers seem to forget that it is us taxpayers that put food on their table, and they not only fail to do their job of giving our children a quality education that includes imparting good human values, but are also abusive and hurtful towards and disillusion them. Being rude to students seems to be the norm, like they are cattle to be herded, not young people with feelings that get hurt. Like a student said in jest, “You [the teacher] are like the dominatrix that is paid to dominate us at school”.
Power does not corrupt; it attracts the corruptible. While job security, generous health benefits, a safe environment, perhaps even a love for teaching all attract teachers initially, what keeps the damaged ones is the ongoing ability to feed one’s ego, and they are the ones in turn damaging students.