In Defense of… Teachers

I think I’m going to start writing a semi-regular “In Defense Of” article. I keep thinking of things I’d like to defend, and offer my opinions about. I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise, since this entire blog is essentially “In Defense of Unschooling.”

For the first in this series, I’d like to talk about teachers. I’ve mentioned before that I was a teacher and that I have my Masters in Education. If you’ve read anything of my blog you know that I pretty much disagree with the school system as we know it. And, realizing that, it’s difficult to see how I separate teachers from the system they support.

In some ways, I can’t. In some ways, they perpetuate the problem and don’t really try to revolutionize the system from the ground up. But, in most ways, they are amazing people. Most teachers have an absolute passion for teaching and really enjoy seeing that spark of realization and amazement in their students. I did. That’s why I loved my job. But, those sparks are few and far between. Teachers spend hours and hours trying to figure out ways to motivate students and to give them a desire to learn. They stress out about class dynamics and worry about how to handle the difficult students. They attend conferences, read books, and study new techniques to inspire their students. And still, it only has a marginal effect.  The problem is not the teacher, and it’s not the student. The problem is the flawed system they are placed in. And this system has become so normalized that no one thinks to question it anymore.  When politicians or school administrators talk about affecting education, they are referring to more standardized testing or more money plowed into already failing procedures. One of the most “radical” ideas out there is school vouchers.  But none of these ideas will get to the root problem. And that is that the system itself is backwards.

Just think of all the good teachers could do if they were allowed to, as Leo Babauta states, be facilitators instead of teachers. If our schools understood the innate need kids have to learn what THEY want to learn. If schools would just trust kids and “teachers” (the term itself rubs me the wrong way) to follow their rabbit trails and come out knowing what they really wanted to know and not what some state standard dictated that they should know, then teachers would be able to really show their potential.

These educators are, for the most part, amazing people. I have some really good friends who are teachers. And, I’m a tutor. They just don’t see a way to really affect the system as a whole, and therefore are stuck struggling to convey some sense of passion to passionless kids who are also victims of our misguided and dangerous educational structure.

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5 Comments on "In Defense of… Teachers"

  1. Netzi
    05/11/2009 at 8:59 am Permalink

    When I started questioning school, it was hardly against teachers, since I was fortunate to have those with good intentions. Their main problem was how hard to was to teach unenthusiastic students. Though it’s quite true when “enthusiastic” (really the “What does it take to pass this class”? type) students say, “I hate this class and not doing well because the teacher’s horrible at teaching”. School runs the way it should, by taking the life out of academics. A school career requires one to do the same. One can try and change things, but good luck with the principal, the superintendent, etc., etc. Even that is impossible. The higher ranks also suffer.

    By the way, how come I can’t comment under my account? I’m logged on and quite confused. 😛

  2. Cassi
    05/11/2009 at 10:44 am Permalink

    I have no idea why you can’t post under your account. It’s a wordpress account? Feel free to post your blog url in the comments section if you’d like.


  3. Netzi
    05/11/2009 at 11:19 am Permalink

    Hey Cassi! I thought this was a Blogger page just like mine. I didn’t realize it was WordPress until seeing WordPress user comments being linked easily.


  1. Grassroots | Unschooling Ruminations 05/11/2009 at 10:02 am

    [...] I was thinking about the tough position teachers are in (as I wrote about yesterday), and I wanted to…

  2. [...] few weeks ago, I wrote a post defending teachers.  I still agree with my post, but I do feel…

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