Power to the Teacher
By Edith Morgan
I grew up in a home, and a belief system, where the teacher was revered and looked up to, and whose word was something to be taken very seriously. My teachers were in full control of their classrooms, and at least in the first few years, I believed everything my teachers said, and my parents backed what I was learning, sometimes to the dismay of my parents (as an eight year old I came home and declared I would have nothing to do with money, as my teacher had said that ”money was the root of all evil” and I would not have nothing more to do with it. My parents would not directly contradict my teacher, but they made sure that I later found out that the TRUE saying was that “the LOVE of money is the root of all evil.”
America has had a different history with teachers, from the itinerant Ichabod Crane to the present day certified, educated and continuously re-freshed with workshops and in-service programs teacher. Today’s teachers are professionals, in many ways specialists in their areas, who continuously seek better ways of serving their students.
When I first began teaching, I was paid $3,000 a year – but I was totally in charge of my classroom, left to implement the district curriculum as well as possible, given the fiscal constraints of public schools. But my power did not extend beyond the classroom and teachers were usually not consulted about what new buildings should be like or what the curriculum should be, except as an afterthought.
Our profession is the only one where decisions are made by the untrained and often uninformed. Just imagine if your doctor or your lawyer’s work was determined by a committee or a gaggle of politicians – what would their service be like??
It is high time that we give teachers some leeway and back them up, rather than to criticize and undermine their authority. Students very quickly figure out where the power lies, and if they imagine that it is in THEIR hands, you can be sure that they will soon misuse it.
WE ARE NOW COMING OUT OF NEARLY TWO YEARS OF VERY DIFFICULT TIMES, WHERE CHLDREN HAVE NOT DEVEOPED THE GROUP AND SOCIAL SKILLS THEY WOULD HAVE IN CLASSROOMS AND ON PLAYGROUNDS.
THEY HAVE BEEN SURROUNDED BY MEDIA THAT MISINFORM DELIBERATELY AND INCREASINGLY LIVE IN A SOCIETY WHERE FACTS, CRITICAL THINKING AND LOGIC ARE FALLING BY THE WAYSIDE.
We are going to have to be patient, and we will have to return to teaching our young to face reality, to think clearly, to seek facts before reaching decisions, and to value truth and reason above emotion. We, the adults around them, need to model responsibility and self control because our young do as we do, not as we say.
I have been heartened by the numerous examples of children showing empathy and kindness to others, including newcomers and those who are different from them. Would that our media and some of our politicians live by the same rules.