Lost and Confused Signpost

Oh, I think it’s high time to write a post about education, let’s call it  pseudo-educational post as it is not meant to be serious. This came to my mind reading the blogs of other teachers from many parts of the world, who seemed to display the same levels of frustration that many Italian teachers share. The question is: what is the role of a teacher in the twenty-first century? You may say: “a teacher teaches”, wrong, modern teachers are psychologists, pedagogues, advisers, trainers, confessors and a lot of other things and yes, of course educators, but the latter does not come at the top of the list . Few decades ago it was a much simpler job, a teacher was a person with a higher degree of education who transmitted his knowledge to the generations of children he worked with and helped them grow, and for this he was respected.

teacherNowadays it is not the same. The spreading of  education and the quick access to information thanks to technology, has narrowed the cultural gap between parents and teachers, making necessary a reassessment of the role of teachers and let me say, education in modern societies. The respect of  students and parents has to be conquered day by day, which is not bad at all, but often it is not based on your educational effort and skills. However, even if sometimes you feel like having reached your goal there could be still  a few surprises waiting for you just around the corner, not necessarily pleasant.

imagesU65Q54N7Do you remember the movie “Dead Poet’s Society?” Well, each teacher has experienced that inebriating state of mind at least once in his career: the illusion of being as charismatic, motivating, admired, fundamental as Robbie Williams in the movie. It’s a fabulous emotion. So, one day, soon  after a very much appreciated lesson,  a girl came to my desk me to tell me something that in her mind should sound as a compliment:
Well, Teach, this lesson was really amazing” (great satisfaction)
You are so good, have you ever taken into consideration to do something else, something better?” (major satisfaction)
Don’t know, a stewardess?”

stewardessI’ve got nothing against being a stewardess, it’s a great job, better wage, trips, Club Tropicana, Wham, fab. However, it is not exactly the same field, apart from speaking more than one language, I can’t see no other points in common. Nevertheless, the girl saw it as an advancement in my career. Hence, if this is how we are perceived, if culture does not matter, when it comes the time to discuss the results of a student, how do parents accept the evaluation of somebody who is technically below a stewardess?

Typical conversation parent-English teacher on parents’ day:
I don’t understand why my boy’s grades are so low. He can speak English well, I saw him myself at work. You know, last summer we were in London, we went to a McDonald, well, he ordered cheeseburgers and fries for all of us and they actually gave him cheeseburgers and fries!
Great, but what has it to do with Shakespeare, we are studying the Elizabethan period”!
I have to ask my Italian Literature colleagues, if they are satisfied to know that one of their student has ordered a portion of cannelloni at a restaurant and he was actually given cannelloni rather than testing him on Dante. I might be wrong, you’ll never know.


18 thoughts on “Confusion

  1. Great post – so true. “Dead Poets’ Society” is still a wonderful movie…and “The Choir” (A French movie) is also one that moved me to tears.

  2. I did chuckle I´ll give you that. It is much harder now being a teacher or better said a good teacher.

    And not all that long ago did they just teach, I´m 31 and remember my highschool year in spain and earlier years. Maybe it was only the spanish educational system, but I remember teachers coming in, sitting behind a desk, start lecturing and we just sat there taking notes. In my case I was probably spitting spit balls to someone else or just looking through the window at nothing. And once the lecture was over they gave you the homework, the next day the same, ask you about the homework and if you didn´t get it or didn´t do it you got belittle in front of the hole class. Which in my case did the opposite effect, instead of not wanted to be belittle in front of everyone I got pissed off and eventually thrown out of basically every institution in Spain.

    It did change when I got to the U.S though. But because of the teachers more than me, they made me realise that I didn´t have to know how to do square roots in math, or know biology to perfection. They saw I could write, read, read history, psychology and they potential those things. And long and behold I got a writing shcholarship.

    And since you are the teacher you HAVE to sit there and read all this comment.

  3. I can’t imagine being a teacher in this day and age. I have a special respect for those who do and I don’t think they get the respect they deserve. Teachers should not be considered glorified babysitters and I think they are way too often perceived as such.

  4. I taught in UK state education for 35 years, and went from hoping that I might inspire students and encourage them to become well-rounded adults to stressing about whether I was doing enough to create sufficient ‘units’ with the right qualifications in what felt like an industrial process.

    I now only teach piano to students whom I hope I inspire, provide a good role model for and make my subject enjoyable for. according to their capacities. Isn’t this a little of what we hope to be as good teachers?

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