The teaching profession is one of the world’s oldest and most respected. It has been dubbed the noble profession, but as fate would have it, teachers generally consider it as the Cinderella of all professions.
The explanation given for this is that teaching is considered to be a thankless job. Teachers bear the brunt of public criticism, as they are often battered and abused for failings in the educational system.
Teachers are not above criticism. As professionals, they are mindful and understanding of the importance of both criticism and evaluation. These are a natural part of the process, if they are to make improvements in the delivery of education and the quality service they are expected to provide.
Teachers play an essential role as surrogates and as enforcers of the value system. As professionals and surrogates, they are called upon to play a pivotal role in complementing the part which parents and guardians are expected to play in the socialization of children. It would sometimes seem that teachers are left to carry the load for the socialization of the nation’s children, while many parents and guardians sit on the sideline as mere spectators.
Inasmuch as teachers are expected to act responsibly, so too are parents and guardians. Teachers as trained professionals are expected to impart knowledge, to follow rules and procedures, inculcate values, uphold standards, exercise tolerance and patience, and maintain discipline. All of this is directed at educating, training, moulding and developing the nation’s children.
It therefore suggests that they deserve the support of parents and guardians, who should play their part in the training and socialization of the children and/or wards.
It would seem that some parents and guardians abscond their role and instead resort to engaging in teacher bashing. These are joined by persons within the mainstream of society who promote the idea that the education system is failing.
Barbados has been credited with one of the best education systems in the world, and so this begs the question as to whether the grouse really lies with the education system, or with the teachers.
The problem seems more to rest with the perceptions and expectations the society has of teachers. Teachers cannot perform miracles, but they certainly can influence and shape the lives of the children under their charge.
One of the biggest contradictions there is that of the double standards of the people. Instead of supporting the teachers in their quest to inculcate the values, norms and mores that underpin the socialization process, there is always a quick attempt by parents, guardians, members of the society at large, including those who should know better, to demoralize and denigrate teachers; and to question their competencies and judgements.
The continued bashing of teachers will certainly do very little to inspire those who are in the system; and could easily dissuade prospective teachers from entering the profession. Those who are inclined to bash teachers may wish to explain the purpose of their action. It is questionable as to where the authority lies within those non-professionals who have no teacher training, training in social work or child psychology, to guide teachers as to what they should or shouldn’t do.
It is a fact that teachers are not perfect; neither are they above the law. Students in the school system are expected to behave like children should. There can be no excuse for unprofessional conduct on the part of teachers, neither should inappropriate behaviour by students be condoned.
In the face of the negativity that confronts teachers, it should be of comfort to them that their interest is well served by the representation which is offered by teacher trade unions and/or staff associations. Inasmuch as these organizations play a dual role as both representative and professional body, one would hope that for the good of the profession they undertake to promote and safeguard the professional image of teachers.
(Dennis De Peiza is labour management consultant to Regional Management Services Inc.
Visit the website www.regionalmanagement services.com Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org)