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.
Nowadays 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.
Do 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?”
I’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.