Musings on education
Something new each week starting soon
I respect maids, aka housekeepers. They are outwardly patient even when they may be overworked under the weight of an oppressive hand. They may want to quit but actually may like the children in their bosses' family. So they don't quit.
I respect teachers They are outwardly patient while they may be overworked under the weight of an oppressive hand. They may want to quit but actually like the children in their schools. But they don't quit.
The similarity ends there. Teachers are professionals but are often not treated as such.
The reality is that many teachers in the US and other countries want to quit, partly from lack of respect. Many teachers leave the profession early on and the nagging feeling doesn't go away for many throughout their career. The reasons?
Of those who stay on, according to a poll conducted by the NEA, 45% of them have considered quitting because of the recent love affair with high-stakes standardised testing imposed from above. Is this also a form of lack of respect for teachers as professionals?
How to change these dire straits that exist in so many countries?
A good start is to look at a country where students are succeeding, stress is minimal and teachers' lives seem more balanced: Finland.
Finland, touted as having consistently high ratings as an educational system, largely due to:
The process of becoming a teacher lasts about six years, people stay in the profession for 40 years, and the average experience of a teacher is about 16 years (Source: Finnish Lessons 2.0).
Finns think of teaching as a high-status profession in the same way as law or medicine.
Students strive to become teachers. Finnish society is not a place where, in the words of Woody Allen "those who can't do, teach, and those who can't teach, teach PE". Teachers in Finland are professionals and are treated as such.
Now, time to reflect on other countries. The US is but one example. Among 34 developed countries (OECD Countries), the US scores 17th in reading, 20th in science and 27th in mathematics. Can this be related to the results of a new study that shows that 17% of teachers leave the profession within 5 years.
So is it time to treat teachers and teacher trainees as the professionals they are and aspire to be? Some quick changes are due:
In the end, teaching is a partnership. Teacher, school, family and society all benefit from a healthy learning environment led by the teacher.
A good teacher is like a good doctor. You should trust your doctor's judgment. You should trust your teacher's judgment.
Both are professionals and have much more education and training than a maid.
Ingenious. No that's too positive. Devious. And I say that with utmost respect. You cannot find this subject on a straight Google search. Maybe they pay to kill the subject? The subject is "Kool Killers on Wicked Wheels".
Have you seen cars with "The Reds" on them. The above shot is from a van delivering cigarettes to a store in a mall. Pretty uncool and no one really cares.
But the other vehicles are Porsches and high-end SUVs. Driven by models.
Keep an eye out for them. They drive to clubs with their windows down so everyone can see their coolness. At clubs, they hang out looking ever-so sexy smoking their brand in outdoor areas overlooking the Bosphorus. And they offer cigarettes to young people.
Philip Morris, the cigarette manufacturer has its head office up the street, so I often get to see these cool people pass by in their cool cars. The company has security most often reserved for consulates and embassies.
Perhaps it is fitting for what some call "merchants of death".
Cigarettes are not my point though. Media literacy is my point.
Media are not limited to newspapers, TV and films. Media include everything we see and interact with.
And cool cars with cool creatures smoking uncool cigarettes is a medium that gets young people to smoke.
Let's not let the smoke get in our eyes so we can see we are being duped.
Many years ago, I worked for a bank. The potential for a good salary gave me incentive to stay and rise through the ranks. Initial annual holidays were two weeks if I took them in the summer or three weeks if I chose winter. The fact I chose winter was an early indicator of what I held as valuable: a block of time for myself.
When I became a teacher, there were of course strong intrinsic incentives. However, a strong extrinsic incentive was the block of time afforded teachers for summer breaks. During the school year, a good teacher works at least as many hours outside of class as inside the class and very committed teachers may prep and mark at a ratio of 2:1. So when summer comes, teachers decompress.
Time is ours.
During the long summer hiatus, teachers may choose to take courses, they may choose to travel, they may choose quality family time. But that's just it. They may choose. The time is theirs to use or abuse as they wish. This choice of how to use time brings an amazing amount of happiness.
In a recent article in The New York Times, research shows that those who value time over money are happier. Note the word "value" here. Valuing time more makes you happier than valuing money more. (That said, when a person who values time also has time, needs are met, just as when someone who values money has money, needs are met.) The article indicates that "even if you’re scraping by, and thus forced to focus on money, you’ll be happier if deep down you know it’s time that’s most important."
A few years ago, I moved into school administration and thus a good deal of my summer time became other people's time. A basic value that I held was undermined and a basic need was not being met. I created justifications: the job was "better" - after all, I was making more money. I had an important influence on more people than if I were a mere teacher. But my time belonged to others ...
Ten years ago, I returned to teaching and have since been happy on many fronts, including meeting my need for the time which I value. I work hard but have time to play hard.
So, is the expression "time is money" valid? In some concrete ways, very much so.
However, ask yourself this question:
"If your basic needs were met, would you want more time or money?" Your answer may tell you how happy you can be.
Until next weekend ...
(For the original study, you can access it by clicking the link to the journal "Social Psychological and Personality Science" below.)
Crap. I'm packing and the cats have nestled in with the suitcases again. One is looking out at me in a truly satisfied way. Every time I travel he does this. But ... Is he onto something?
Cats live very much in the moment. They appreciate the small stuff. The daily treasures, the new discoveries, however small. So do dogs. But we as human beings tend to work so much at the expense of enjoying each moment, each day. At the expense of traveling. At the expense of defeating the bad guys. Yes, that's correct, defeating the bad guys: here's why.
We do four things very differently when we travel than when at home or work.
So, how does this affect the proverbial bad guys?
Until next weekend!