Being an educator, I think a lot about my role as a social activist. Yes, being a teacher is all about making a difference in the world by inspiring children to be the best they can be and to make a difference in their world.
You see, this is the best way to make the ripple continue. I have a social responsibility to give my students the tools to build this world and live in it in peace and harmony, with themselves, with the land they live on and with others. This way, they will continue this cycle with everyone they meet in their life.
Making a difference is on the agenda of everyone who considers becoming a teacher. It is part of the job description nobody ever reads before embarking on their teaching adventure, but everyone totally understands within a very short time of teaching.
Most of the time and energy of teachers is dedicated to literacy and numeracy and very little is dedicated to activism and making a difference. Most teachers, even those who understand their role well, are forced to drill the kids with more assignments, tests and pressure to perform. Social responsibility shrinks from providing values, morals and being a role model to producing obedient children who do not think for themselves and focus on survival and scores.
The life of a teacher is not easy. They work at school, they work outside of school and they work on weekends, and still, everyone talks about their easy life and their school holidays. Every year, less and less of their work is dedicated to giving kids the tools to contribute and make a difference in the life around them. Sadly, more and more of teachers’ time is wasted on politics, new policies that serve some obscure political agenda, meetings, professional development that covers anything but development, babysitting, testing, recording and reporting.
The teachers I met recently at my professional development for teachers program claimed they were spending more than 75% of their time on paperwork that was not relevant to teaching the kids.
No one becomes a teacher because they think it is worth the school holidays. If you are good at math (and all teachers can do this simple math), you can simply calculate that the extra 4 weeks of vacation you get each year are not equivalent to working 10-12 hours every day throughout the rest of the year.
No one becomes a teacher to babysit children and focus on their safety so much that we prevent them from experiencing life. No jumping, no running, no climbing, no talking in the library, no sharing food, no eating in class, no peeing during lessons, no talking to each other in class, no time for art, no playing during lessons, no helping each other with exams, no late arrivals, no playing ball next to windows, no screaming, and tuck your shirt in. The list is huge. We wonder if we limit our students more than we expand their creativity and thinking horizons.
No one becomes a teacher to record every movement of every child and report it to cover their ass, the department head’s ass and the principal’s ass. The pressure put on kids and teachers to perform to perform when most of the time is spent on recording and reporting does not leave any time for social responsibility. It leaves no space for values, morals or development.
It is time we change our attitude towards the role of teachers. It is amazing that those who make the policies insist on not having teachers among them. There is much fuss about social responsibility and policy making and no one asks those who are responsible to make those policies reality.
If you give teachers your children for 12-13 years of their early life, make sure to give those teachers the power to give your kids the most important things they need: character, values, morals, good habits, drive, social skills, courage and motivation, rather than spending time on babysitting them or doing paperwork.
Teachers are there to make a difference in your child’s life. By paying tax, you pay for their service, so you are their client and they provide an education service to you. It is time you behave like a client and do not accept that teachers are forced to focus on literacy and numeracy and spend hours on recording and reporting.
Make sure you support the teachers who dedicate time to values and social responsibility, even if it means your child’s report card is not full of A’s. You do not send kids to 13 years of schooling for the letter A on their report card. Getting an A will not translate to being happy, successful and living in peace and harmony, only to pressure and more pressure.
Look around! How many people do you know from who struggled in own school and grew up to be successful in life? I know enough of them to have a huge doubt about the role of schools in raising my own children.
I hope many other parents will join me in this protest!
If you are a parent and have children in the school system, remember that teachers are your extension. Teachers do what you would have done if you did not have to go to work somewhere else to provide for your family. Give them the power to do their job.
Have a say!
Together, we can make a huge difference.