Many parents are friendly, supportive, and eager to work with teachers to make sure their children get the best possible education. But there is a sizable number of parents who seem to have a problem with teachers. They don’t display much in the way of respect, and the reasons do not always have anything to do with the teacher involved. So, what are the causes of this lack of respect for teachers, and where is this headed?
Some of the older answers have to do with the perceived status of teachers, and one in particular is actually due to teachers’ success in doing their jobs. A century ago, teachers were almost certainly among the most educated members of their communities. This meant that they were, to some extent, looked up to because of their learning status. Today, the education levels of teachers are perceived to be much the same as most of the community, in large part because so many members of society are able to finish university, and even gone beyond. Accordingly, teachers are no longer looked up to because of their education. They are, however, still looked down upon, to some extent, because they it is perceived that they do not work 9-to-5 (which is a huge misconception), and they have many holidays.
Parents do not truly understand what teachers do in the classroom. Everyone has been to school, and therefore everyone assumes they understand what goes on there, and it doesn’t seem that hard. You show up five days a week for six hours a day, talk for a while, and go home somewhat early. Never mind being able to get through to your students, never mind developing lesson plans and marking papers, never mind the difficulties of understanding how your students’ minds work, never mind the theory and (difficult) practice of pedagogy, and particularly never mind the rising administrative and safety hassles. It looks, from the outside, as if teachers have a comfy gig going on. Of course, if most parents were to try teaching for a couple of weeks, their perspectives might change—but the chances of that happening are pretty slim.
Politics can also be a reason why teachers receive less respect. In the past, education was a political backwater. School board trustees were elected, it’s true, but few people knew anything about them, and fewer cared. Now, politicians at more senior levels of government have little interest in education, and little reason to pay attention to it. It didn’t matter anymore because their children could be shipped abroad to receive the kind of education they’d desire at please. This has led to curricula and even daily lessons being dictated by administrative bureaucrats and as a result, the unique needs of the students has been disregarded. Most of these bureaucrats are worn out and sometimes good on ideas and theory, but very short on actual experience. Too frequently they follow the uninformed direction of ignorant people.
Worse, when things are perceived to be wrong with the education system, scapegoats have to be found to deflect the blame from the elected officials who were so eager to grab the reins. Unfortunately, teachers make a convenient target. Again, never mind that the teachers are doing what the ministries of education are directing them to do. It’s an easy political move to paint teachers as lazy, and, by inference, at fault for the perceived ills of the education system.
Parents attitudes have changed over time. If you got into trouble in class when I went to school, not only were you disciplined by the teacher (or worse, the principal), you got it double at home. That’s not always true today. Now many parents start with the assumption that their little darlings must be right, and therefore the teacher must be wrong. So they attack the teacher who had the temerity to discipline, or even give a poor grade to little Kemi or Chinedu.
The reasons for this are surprisingly complex. First, parents are pushed for time. Often two parents are working, or a single parent is trying to cope (typically) on her own, and parents sometimes have to do more to make ends meet. The result is that parents are often tired, frayed around the edges, with lots of repressed anger, and they don’t have the patience to take a deeper look at what’s going on with their kids. Indeed, part of their overreaction may be due to guilt. Since they don’t spend enough time with or on their kids, they make up for it by trying to be good guys. This may mean allowing the child to make the teacher the bad guy.
To be continued....with more reasons. Do leave your thoughts. Credit: www.teachmag.com