Lots of chatter on twitter the last 24 hours about teacher voice and teacher snark. Goes kinda like: teachers feel no one listens to them and that many education leaders, gurus, and the like don’t have any/substantial classroom experience. Conversely, many non-classroom folks in education feel like they are dismissed because they aren’t in the classroom, and that teachers cherry pick who they dismiss (The Ravitch Strawman).
The participants “unpacked” for hours, rehashing their defense and offense. For me, it just returned to the same: education reform, regardless the policy, theory, money, or passion, is hampered by a big, fat elephant called Ego.
It is hard for mere mortals to see beyond our own noses. Everyone has an angle, everyone has their darling; few would dare to stand down and defer to another point a view, and many are quick to offense if their precious curriculum vitae is questioned.
That said, few enter the classroom for a significant period of time, and fewer still see classroom teachers as the go-to in the Big Education Debate.
This phenomenon isn’t isolated to education. Cops are policed by civilians, and nurses are bullied by MBA’s.
If that summer-vacationed suburban female with a state certificate gets out of her place, well, who is she to tell us how to raise our children, dispense our theories, implement our policies?
The cop has the authority of the badge, the nurse of the cure, but Ms. Smith has only the authority her little charges will let her assume, any more is given only at the discretion of administrators yards away in childless offices.
I’d like to talk to more cops and nurses about their point of view on this issue. How often (or how little) are they called upon for their expertise in their own field? Is their voice esteemed or ridiculed by the non-practitioners in their profession? Do the rain makers in their vocation have significant time on the beat, or on the floor? How often are the Powers That Be on the beat, or walking the floor?
I’d bet we’d find a lot in common. Because no matter how one tries to esteem the teaching job as a profession, a vocation, or a calling, to the general public the teacher (and probably the cop and the nurse, as well) is a job of servitude.
From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
ser·vi·tude noun \ˈsər-və-ˌtüd, -ˌtyüd\
1 : the condition of having to obey another person
2 : a condition in which one lacks liberty especially to determine one’s course of action or way of life
Therein lies the teacher comeuppance: Who is she to complain? Who is she to tell me how to raise my child, adjust my policy, or lead her own professional fate? She is lucky to have a job; a generalist with summers off and tenure.
And the current “reforms” cash-in on the servant status. In the name of “it is about the children” and “the free market” teachers are ridiculed in public by very public figures, they are stripped of their meager powers and offered a pay rate that might keep a college kid almost in the black after beers and books.
Ah, shoot, there I go being dismissive again.
Pardon my elephant.