A step too far
Teachers have been around for thousands of years. They weren’t always called teachers but went by many others names such as trade masters, scholars, philosophers. Youth and young adults were taught by those who has spent their lives dedicated to a work how to use their hands and make something with them or how to use their brains and think of the world and its rules. The education system has changed dramatically over the years from apprenticeships to houses of learning for the wealthy. In the last century, however, our system has hardly changed. Children are brought to a classroom and are expected to learn certain material from many different walks of life. It is not only children who have their plates too full but teachers. The systems lack of modern updates but growth of information that has been demanded for retention has pushed teachers hard. With test scores especially, teachers are challenged to cram as much information into the pickling jar as they can and over succeed. However, one has to ask when the teacher is going too far to succeed and help the student.
Educators are told from the time they are being educated that they have to over succeed. They can not simply be the best at their job: they have to surpass the guidelines. They have to make the best test scores even if there is information elsewhere that could be better put to use once learned by their students. Test scores can make or break a teacher. After all, good scores mean success and poor scores mean the teacher is not trying hard enough, or so it seems. The educator is taxed with making a learning plan that will make the students willing to engage. They are told to read their environment, to analyze their students like they would words. Does that student need extra tutoring? Do they look like they don’t understand? The questions a teacher might ask themselves start simple. They can so evolve into statistics. The child looks underfed so they might be hungry. That child is labeled as part of the Choctaw tribe so they might have trouble learning. That child is affected by a disability so they might not be able to learn the same way as the other kid. They act before they truly observe the child in action.
Striking before they act can simply be over eagerness on a teachers part. Perhaps they wanted to take a step ahead in success like they were told. Maybe what they inferred from the world was not quite what they were meant to see. Maybe they were not meant to see that the student was hungry and needed to be excused to get a snack. After all, that removed the child from the classroom and thusly the learning environment as well as flaunted unfair treatment in front of the other children. Maybe they were meant to see that the student may need some extra help during and outside of class because their concentration is weak due to hunger. It isn’t the teachers job to feed the student anything but knowledge. It is the parents and schools responsibility to provide the student with the physical kind of nourishment.
Sometimes educators are forced to take that step whether want to or not. Teachers of the United States are already paid unfairly low amounts of money. To add injury to insult the school demands they provide the best learning opportunity for their students without giving them all the tools they need to succeed. It isn’t unusual for a teacher to spend hundreds of dollars each semester out of their own pockets just for small things like pencils and paper, knowing the students cant preform if they are without them. They also end up having to buy their own printer ink and write their own textbooks simply because the schools can’t afford it. Whether the students know it or not it is thanks to the generosity of the teacher that they are allowed some of their chances to learn in the classroom.
Another step that is forced is that taking of extra unpaid activities. To help boost student morale there are activities such as Prom and homecoming or after school tutoring that the teachers are often expected to help with. There is often no extra pay or not enough to help supplement the educator for their time lost. Instead they are giving it all to the children whether the students really need their help and guidance or not. The teachers are also expected to raise the money for any extracurricular activities that involve field trips. If the teacher was wanting to show the students a trade job that would allow them to use some obscure mathematics that was often complained of as impractical and not useful in the real world and suddenly make it useful in the eyes of the students they would have to raise the money. Students often will not find out ways to raise money on their own so teachers spend their free time looking up fundraisers for their students that abides the school’s rules. They then play banker and collector to the student body, expected to collect and store the funds the students raise.
Councilor is an unexpected job that many first time teachers find themselves stepping into. Connecting with their students emotionally and offering advice for them to apply to their lives rather than their homework is a bonding experience that can often be as harmful as it is beneficial to the teacher. On one hand the students the teacher gives council to is more likely to respect them and listen to them in class. They understand the teacher actually cares about them and are less likely to take it personally when the teacher calls them out on something. On the other hand the teacher becomes emotionally invested in the student and knows enough about them to worry themselves sick . This is completely unnecessary as most schools are equipped with a councilor to help the students and teachers alike with any problems they might have. It eases the councilor’s work when a teacher helps with little problems such as arguments between other students in the class rooms but when it comes down to at home stuff it is best for the teacher to leave it to the councilor. This is an area where they are easily seen passing the safety line and is best if they do not push.
Protesting is something teachers are well known for. Often it is associated with their pay in the public eye but more often than not they are protesting for the students. The government is always passing laws that hurt the students or electing people that harm the education student and thusly the students. One example is standardized testing that has been proven time and time again to prevent teachers from teaching curriculum that is more useful for the students. Instead they are forced to focus on vast amounts of information in little time which doesn’t allow the students to retain it as needed. Another thing they protest is the removal of arts from the school system. Classes such as choir, art history, studio, and foreign languages are often cut even though they are mandatory for graduation. More often then not when teacher go to protest a cut in the ‘pay’ that the government gives the education body in general, it is the cut of available jobs and classes that they are protesting. What is an education system when there is nobody there to teach, anyways? And what is a school without the humanities that foster creativity and expression? It is extremely important to the teachers that the students get the best education they can give. Even if they have to fight to give it.
As read above, there are many factors to the overstepping of boundaries by teachers. One can not simply accuse the teacher without looking at the many factors leading to their decision. Were they made for the betterment of the student? Were they made to follow the state and country guidelines? Were they made because the teacher was too over eager to help? Were they made by the downfall of the education system and the follies of the government and the corrupt society that we live in today? Teachers are the not so silent warriors that fight for the childrens right for education, even when there are obstacles trying to stop them at every turn. They fight on unsponsored and unpaid giving their blood and time, what little money they earn, to help nurture society when no one else will. Yes, they over step their boundaries and sometimes it isn’t for the better… But in a world where everyone is turning their back on the student, sometimes the teacher is the only hero they have. And sometimes the teacher has to step forward and sell their hero’s cape to buy the student a future.
Freire, Paulo. “The Importance of the Act of Reading.” Academic Universe: Research and Writing at Oklahoma State University. Eds. Richard Frohock et al. Plymouth. Hayden-McNeil, 2012. 281-86. Print.
Stelter, Brian. “We are the 99 percent.” The Norton Field Guide to Writing. Marilyn Moller. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013. 679 – 83. Digital.
Claudia Wallis. “Progress Report: ‘The Teacher Wars’, by Dana Goldstein.” The New York Times. August 22, 2014. Web. September 9, 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/24/books/review/the-teacher-wars-by-dana-goldstein.htm >