It’s been a while. But who cares?
I’m a student. Also, both of my parents are teachers. Both of my mother’s older sisters are teachers. One of my dad’s brothers is a teacher. His mother was a teacher. My mother’s only Australian-born cousins are both teachers.
You could say I’ve met a few teachers in my short time on earth.
Also, because I’ve attended the school that my parents worked at on two different occasions, and each time the schools were in foreign countries where my parents didn’t have many (or in one case any) friends, most of their friends were my own teachers.
Because of this education-steeped background, I’ve never quite understood this culture of hating your teacher with a strange passion, almost – though of course in no way anywhere near as harming – similar to the way racists hate people of colour, or misogynists hate women. By which I mean, students hate teachers just on the basis that they are teachers – they don’t care about the actual person, about their personality or views or feelings or relationships, just their job. Of course, some teachers can earn approval from their students, but there’s definitely a trend towards Teachers = Enemies of Students.
Think about everything you know about teachers, about pop culture, about your own experiences and you might start to see what I mean.
Teachers usually fall into one of two categories: hated, or adored and respected. I’m very glad that the second category exists, and I admit that it is relatively common – elementary students often love their classroom teacher (I can’t help but think of Mrs Frizzle from the Magic School Bus as an example), and high school students often respect particular teachers.
But, there’s also a kind of worldwide dislike of them in general. I mean, just think about the parody of ‘Joy to the World’. If you don’t know it, allow me to show you the delightful words:
Joy to the world,
the teacher is dead
we barbecued her head!
What happened to the body?
We flushed it down the potty!
And round and round it went,
and round and round it went.
Obviously things are often simplified in children’s books, but the amount of times that authors choose to vilify the teachers annoys me, personally. Also, if you dare to show human decency to your teachers, it’s likely that you will be attacked by your peers. For what crime? Why, being a teacher’s pet, of course! And god forbid that the teacher should ever show a particular fondness of you (in the most innocent way, of course). No, apparently, you must be treated the exact same way as the self-entitled pig in the corner who pulls the girls’ hair and steals people’s pens and yells in class and throws paper aeroplanes. And this is all in the name of equality, for some unknown reasoning.
It’s the students against the teachers and it always has been. And I honestly hate this.
I love some of my teachers. I do hate some of them – many of them, in fact. Throughout my years of schooling I’ve been gently mocked countless times by my friends and family – “If you hate your English teacher, and your RE teacher, and your PE teacher and your Maths teacher, which teachers do you like?” (My HSIE teacher, by the way, guys. He was such a great teacher.)
But overall? I believe that teachers should be treated with respect. Not even because they’re our educators – just because they are our elders, and they are, above all else, human beings just like us students.
Now, some people seem to either find this a very difficult concept to comprehend – and just treat teachers like annoying servants who keep insisting on trying to teach you trigonometry when you think they should be bringing you a nice, cold drink – or apparently just don’t care at all, because they think they’re above everyone else automatically. (Helpful hint: they’re not.)
And it really freaking annoys me that so many students will vilify their teachers, for trying to do their job and teach their students. I mean, the teachers honestly aren’t here because they really felt like being stuck in a classroom with 30 teenagers who refuse to listen. They’re there to teach those students. And considering that students will complain if the teacher ‘doesn’t teach them’ properly, it’s actually pretty necessary that said students shut up and do some work.
I have no problem with talking in class – or even idly complaining about all the work you had to do last lesson – but saying you hate a teacher because – horror of horrors – she asks you to write some notes down? That makes you the bad guy in this situation.
Personally, I feel like the whole education system is messed up. So many people at schools do not want to be there, at all, for various different reasons, but are nonetheless forced to show up each and every day. They treat each other awfully, some more so than others, but for the most part suffer few consequences for these actions.
This is not how you educate a generation of people who love learning and respect all human beings as equal.
That would be done by forcing students to treat everyone else at the school with respect. I say ‘force’ and that sounds a little harsh, perhaps, but we shouldn’t have to make people be decent to each other – it’s their own fault for not doing it in the first place. It’s like saying that you had to force someone to not commit a crime – what else were you going to do, shrug and say “Well, I wasn’t going to force him to stop.” as someone pulls out a gun and shoots a person?
Oh, look, for god’s sake. This is all incredibly simple.
Teachers are people. People deserve our respect automatically, unless they’re doing something awful. Teachers are not, by definition, doing something awful, though it’s true that some of them might be – but not the majority. Therefore, teachers deserve the respect of their students automatically – and they don’t deserve to be mocked and belittled just for doing their job.
I feel like the fact that this isn’t a universally accepted truth in most schools is directly related to the failure of our education systems. Anyone with me on that? Obviously it’s not the only factor, but it’s definitely part of it.
Students have thrown things at my parents, verbally abused them countless times, mocked them, made derogatory comments about them, threatened to besmirch their reputation – and received practically no punishment. Lots of these things would actually be illegal if they happened out in the ‘real world’, and yet kids get away with these things all the time.
Is it just me, or is it that, if a teacher – one of the main authority figures in a school – cannot garner the respect owed to any random stranger on the street, none of those strangers will get that respect they deserve, and, also, kids will get the message that it’s OK to treat adults with disrespect, so it must be OK to treat your peers – the other students – with that same disrespect?
And then, we get bullying. We get bullying and teen self-esteem issues and teen suicides and abusive relationships, because apparently no one thinks that it’s important to truly teach respect for other people in our schools.
I mean, I know I’m making some big leaps here. But surely it’s easy to see that these things are all interrelated, this casually cruel society and the crumbled self-esteems of the population, and the poor decisions that spring from that?
Also, I recognise that it’s not easy to teach people something they don’t want to learn, but that’s absolutely no reason to give up. Educating children is not just about teaching them facts, it’s about teaching them how to live a responsible life as a decent human being. There’s so much leniency exercised in modern schools that students don’t seem to be getting the message that what they’re doing is, in fact, hugely wrong.
Hey, I’m sure sometimes the whole nice guy, pseudo-parent approach works. But real life isn’t always like a movie – people don’t always misbehave because they hate their dad for leaving their mum and as such hate all authority figures and by winning the kid over and showing him the love his father never gave him you will unleash the kind, loving, intelligent person inside him. That’s true for a tiny percentage of people, but for the rest of them, they do it because they can get away with it.
THAT needs to end.
To the boy who threw a full 1L water bottle in my mother’s face, on purpose, and got just one day’s suspension;
To the boy who called my mother a ‘stinking moll‘ because she dared ask him to not talk in the goddamn library;
To the girls who refused to pronounce my father’s last name properly;
To the girl who told my mother to ‘shut the fuck up’, whose little brother teased me at school*, who called me a Nazi and made farting noises when I came near and told me not to even bother trying at sports, and actually went and pulled my hair like a malicious third-grader:
please, for the sake of everyone, learn some respect. Get some self-respect.
And to everyone who let that happen, who didn’t discipline them properly, who chalked it down as ‘kids being kids’?
Please, try harder, or give up any right to respect from anyone. Because you’re certainly not teaching anyone to respect others through your behaviour right now.
*OK, so you might have noticed that I care personally about this issue for a particular reason. Whatever. It’s still true.