Let me first start off by saying that I have the utmost respect for teachers. I have several cousins and friends who are teachers, and I know that it is something I could never do. They work very hard, and very long hours, and have to deal with bratty kids and ignorant parents in a day and age where teachers have lost all control of the situation. (I do honestly believe that if a kid threatens a teacher or tries to cause them physical or emotional harm, that kid should be booted out of that teacher’s class and never allowed to return.)
That said, I know for a fact that not all teachers are created equal, and that some of them should seriously consider a different vocation.
As children we’re brought up to believe that our teachers will teach us about the world, that they have all the answers and that we have to accept what they tell us point-blank, because hey, that’s their job, right? But teachers are often forced into subjects they don’t actually know anything about, or something changes (example: Pluto not being a planet anymore) but they continue to teach the way they’ve always known. In other words, sometimes teachers genuinely have no idea what they’re talking about. Let me give you an example:
When I was in grade school I had this one teacher…I won’t mention the actual grade or the actual teacher to protect the ignorant. She wasn’t a bad teacher, for the most part, but she had some ridiculous ideas about how prose was supposed to be written. Once, when we were doing a creative writing project, she tried to correct the way I wrote my dialogue. For reasons still unknown to me, she was insistent that the proper punctuation went at the end of the directive part of the sentence, rather than the actual dialogue. So for instance, if I wrote:
“Are you kidding?” she asked.
This teacher would tell me that it should be:
“Are you kidding,” she asked?
Now, at this point in my life I was a pretty avid reader. My parents were forever buying me books, I was a staple at all the Scholastic book fairs, and I cherished my library card. And I had never once, throughout hundreds of books, seen punctuation used this way in dialogue. I tried to tell my teacher this, and she made it pretty clear that if I didn’t do it her way I would lose points on my assignment. It drove me insane to follow her direction, because at this point in my life I was really getting into writing and I knew that what she was telling me to do was rubbish. But I was the kind of student who always wanted to get the best possible grade, and I was too young at this point to think of something like going to the principal or my parents to complain.
Over the course of thirteen years of public education and four years of secondary education, I’ve seen plenty of this type of nonsense. I’ve seen teachers misspell words and insist that they were right even when proven wrong. I’ve seen teachers show visible discrimination against certain kids for a variety of reasons that were beyond the kid’s control. I’ve seen teachers refuse to accept an alternate method of solving problems even if it works just as well or better than the one that they insist is the “right way”. I’ve seen college professor’s purposely create exams meant to fail as many students as possible simply because they were cranky old bags with tenure who have come to hate the world around them.
The purpose of this post isn’t to put down those who are in the teaching profession – as previously mentioned, I have the utmost respect for the ones who do their job properly. The purpose of this post is to point out that not everyone is perfect, that sometimes grown adults can act poorly toward children, and that as parents and responsible adults we should take every angle into consideration when dealing with children.
Lots of teachers that I know have dealt with angry parents who lose their minds because their kid got a failing grade on something, or their kid told them that the “bad teacher” yelled at them and made them feel bad, or something else otherwise ridiculous. There are a frightening number of cases out there in which the child was 100% the one in the wrong (if you don’t DO your homework, how can you expect to get a passing grade?), but the parents turn into crusaders on their child’s behalf and are ready and willing to destroy anyone who tries to tell them that their child isn’t the perfect little angel that they believe them to be.
But there are also lots of cases in which the child comes home with a complaint (“Mom, my teacher HATES me!”) and the parent brushes it off as childish whining, because in the parent’s mind a teacher would never be biased or cruel or ignorant.
I’m just saying, keep your eyes open, keep your mind open, and look at things from all angles. If your child was a fine student until they came across this particular teacher, consider that it might not be your child’s fault that their grades are suddenly slipping. Kids can be overly emotional, selfish, sneaky, and wonderfully creative little liars, but sometimes, believe it or not, they are actually just telling you exactly what is happening.
Have you ever had a teacher who tried to force incorrect information on you? How about a teacher who was clearly discriminatory? Or one who was emotionally abusive? Did you try to discuss the problem with an adult? Was the issue resolved, or was it brushed off? Please share!