Ok, I won’t make a habit of doing these kinds of posts, but here are the best answers from a reddit question of teachers.
What is it that you think is "toxic"?
What do you mean by "toxic"?
How much experience do you have of teaching?
Firstly, it is not verifiable.
Secondly, it’s spoken ‘behind the back’.
Thirdly, they are talking about children. (In this case)
Fourthly, it seems like majority of teachers..especially young ones don’t like what they do.
Fifthly, I think the way schools are being run.. the teaching methods should die.
Sixthly, it’s like having cooks who hate to cook for you. One day, they will spit on your plate. It’s a given.
When you're under significant stress with no means to control it, being able to vent can be healthy.
Yes, they are talking about children. Most of the teachers I work with are dedicated professionals being shat upon from on high, and it's only because in truth, underneath, they genuinely care about those in their care.
Fourthly, the teachers I know love teaching. It's not a job, it's a calling. But they hate so much of what they are forced to do by those setting the rules and regulations. This is especially galling given that those setting the rules and regulations have, in general, never been teachers, and while they might have the best of intentions, most of them haven't a clue.
I absolutely agree that the way schools are run must die, and the sooner the better, for the sake of everyone who deserves respect - the children and the teachers.
Finally, your analogy is flawed about diners and cooks/chefs, because it's not the teachers who are the customers, it's the parents and the administration. They are the ones who pay, they are the ones who demand results, they are the ones who places unreasonable burdens on the teachers. And yes, many of the teachers eventually rebel, but it's not by taking it out on the children.
So knowing teachers as I do, I think you are reading this with the wrong slant. I hope what I've said here makes your reassess, even if you don't end up changing your mind.
‘Venting’ to public at large should still be taken with a pinch of salt (and disdain) especially since it’s done anonymously.
Again. Your personal circle of friends who happen to be teachers is not the same sample as the posters quoted in the original post.
And I can say this for every single point you make about ‘teachers you know’ and I will still hold my opinion that the first word that came to my mind when I read the original post is ‘toxic’.
Having said that..wrt your circle of teacher acquaintances and my own impressions, I think education as we know it needs to undergo a sea change.
Perhaps this notion of cramming 30-50 children in a room and force feeding them ‘education’ via a low paid, unhappy teacher is not a way to transmit knowledge or a love for learning.
I think if someone has a ‘calling’, they should do it for free or must be free to walk away without worrying about their means to survive. Since it’s a career choice, it carries with it all the baggage of a rat race. One can’t have it both ways.
Considering these very teachers are products of the same system of education, they are merely perpetuating the unpleasantness that they had to endure.
I see this as abuse on many levels. Education and schools as we know it must die and take up another avatar.
Parents and administrators (at least here in California) have little to no power. It’s a battle for public money between unions and Sacramento. That’s what I see from what I have observed. It’s really very dirty politics. Teachers have chosen a side and it seems like they’d say anything they are instructed to opine. For example: there is a ‘work to rule’. It’s like a walk out. Teachers will only work for 5.5 hours teaching. They won’t grade papers, won’t write recommendation letters, won’t communicate with teachers. This happened six months ago too. 25000 teachers in LAUSD are striking in Los Angeles Unified schools. No classes. Nothing. Full on strike. This isn’t a calling. When one joins an union and goes on strike, it’s not a “calling”.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, but I am not sure it has made a difference. I have heard others say the same thing second hand but the first hand opinions that I have heard from teachers themselves have been different.
And also, yeah I wish everyone could perform their calling for free, for the simple joy of it, but the fact of the matter is that life isn't like that and never will be like that.
Who has a say in a child’s education?
Let’s go over the parties involved:
5. The State
6. Tax payers/public
7. The Student
It would be interesting to map the relationships between these various players and their influence weights.
> Perhaps if I have had the same input as you did, maybe we would be in agreement.
Perhaps - given my context (see below) it seems likely I've had and have much more contact with teachers than you, and so have more insight into what it's like to be a teacher.
> Your personal circle of friends who happen to be teachers is not the same sample as the posters quoted in the original post.
I'm not referring to my circle of friends. I have extensive professional contact with hundreds of teachers every year (in the UK).
> ... education as we know it needs to undergo a sea change.
This is true, and I'm working with some to try to make it happen. But it's Sisyphean.
> I think if someone has a ‘calling’, they should do it for free or must be free to walk away without worrying about their means to survive. Since it’s a career choice, it carries with it all the baggage of a rat race. One can’t have it both ways.
People go into the career with the clear-eyed innocence of youth, and as the years go by get ground into the ground by the administrative load and the toxicity of the parents and community. But teaching is important, and many/most soldier on, trying to teach the students regardless of the circumstances. In the vast majority of cases the teachers really are doing absolutely everything they can to give the students the best education possible under the circumstances.
In short, I disagree with you on this.
> When one joins an union and goes on strike, it’s not a “calling”.
I disagree completely. When one despairs of making any progress, and of being able to do what the students need, going on strike can be the best thing for the students as a whole. Without doubt it is damaging to the current students in the short term, but you are saying the system needs to change. How can it change without those at the coal face taking some action?
> Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, but I am not sure it has made a difference. I have heard others say the same thing second hand but the first hand opinions that I have heard from teachers themselves have been different.
I have no doubt that you are concerned for the right things, and I have no doubt that we agree on much. There may be things we disagree on, but I suspect it's for the right reasons, and because there are no simple answers or quick fixes.
Education must change radically, and it's unclear that it can happen without significant disruption. I have concerns for those who will be caught in the mess.
Above all, I desperately wish the students got a better deal than they currently get, and I equally desperately wish the system would get out of the way of the good teachers and let them teach. It has to change, but I don't know how.
In particular: "they hate so much of what they are forced to do by those setting the rules and regulations."
Progressive school boards could eliminate most supervisors ... and principals ... at vast savings ... without much harm.
Experienced teachers could take over the 'administration' duties (most of which are handled by staff) for 4 or 5 months every few years. There'd be some increase in pay as compensation, and to let them advantage themselves of the remaining free time by taking further coursework to help them to make education more valuable for their students.
Meanwhile, the substantial savings (~~ $100-200K in many districts) could be plowed into better classroom-support materials. Win all around.
But once I was in university I started to really understand the kind of shit they can go through. While I was in school a bunch of departments decided to save money by hiring contract teachers. Their contracts covered only the time they were in school, but they were expected to give the same courseloads as full time teachers. Naturally their courses suffered and you could tell the ones that didn't put in the needed work but a few of them were openly frustrated about the situation and worked in their own time to still provide full lessons for us.
I had teachers that worked from 730 am, at least, when they taught us, and would still be there teaching classes at 10 pm when I would be working the evening job I had there.
And that article was a big mix of different things. Some of it was as you described but some of it was general frustration and the school system itself or being unable to pass on useful advice to students. A lot of it seemed well intentioned and the kind of stuff I could generally see teachers being stressed out about.
I wanted to push my thoughts a little further:
It is natural to feel gratitude towards certain service professions. Doctors, nurses, law enforcement, teachers etc because the person paying for the services is always in a dependent and less powerful/taking position. The ones providing the service is the one in power. There is a certain surrender and volunteering to give up agency. This is also true in personal relationships between parents and children, spouses and lovers when one is financially dependent on the other. And they are all ripe for abuse depending on the nature of players involved. Power has an insidious appeal and absolute power corrupts.
It is natural to overestimate the value due to the power hierarchy and that’s why some people will always seem larger than life. If you don’t respect a teacher, you can’t learn from them because you have to first admit that you don’t know something and someone else has something you need and they have to share it with you. And your grades/children’s future depends on them.
To the parent, there is no difference between the admin or teacher. To them, the school is the authority that decides if their child passes or fails a grade. There is admin and teachers. Unions are the middle man between them and as usual, they are getting a cut of money and power by claiming that they will ‘protect’ the teachers. Their rights and pay and pensions and everything else.
All this is funded by the tax payers and for many of them, even if they have kids..it’s a game where they have no role as most kids only use the school system for 12 years.
So there is a relationshio between teachers and admin. Admin and unions. Admin and state for funding. Parents and teachers. Parents and students. Every one of them have a set of expectations from the other. And none of it has anything to do with another. And then there is the one between the student and the teacher for which we all pay for...and the anonymous taxpayer has no role at all.
FWIW, I thought the original blog post bought the word ‘toxic’ to my mind. (And one of the reasons I thought so was because it wasn’t verifiable) I did not call the teachers toxic. Hope this clarifies.