Those who follow my blogs and articles know that I write a great deal about education. The reason I do is because I am passionate about the value and necessity of a good education. There is NO replacement for it or a teacher who possesses the unique ability to instill a lifelong love for learning in her students.
Needless-to-say, it pains me to watch the United States' education system struggle because -- like many -- I know that this struggle will be passed along to our kids in incredibly detrimental ways. What also pains me is the way we view and treat teachers these days because the immense downgrade in the status of this profession through the years has also been detrimentally passed onto our children and it shows, nationally and otherwise. Where lessor countries revere teachers in thought and action, ours falls dramatically short.
The impact is one that will continue to hold us back as a country until it is rectified. To begin righting the U.S. education system, our nation needs to reclaim the belief that the teaching profession is a highly regarded, extraordinarily valuable position in society. We need to inject ample amounts of respect and status back into this profession similar to that which we see in many Asian and European countries. We also need to increase the compensation for teaching to levels that invite the best of the best to be able to teach without supplementing their incomes with second jobs.
Our current system does not allow for this. It invites mediocrity and lost enthusiasm into our classrooms then expects stellar results from the children subjected to such poor leadership. Even the 'great' teachers who have somehow managed to buck the system and 'teach' do so under severely strained conditions laden with unyielding mediocrity. Their jobs become overwhelmingly impossible as oppose to what they should be -- incredibly enthralling and gratifying. If one bad apple can spoil a whole bunch, imagine what a bushel of bad apples can do... devour an entire nation down to the core?
When hope is lost from the top down, we extinguish much of the hope that would have followed. By reinventing the definition of a teacher into one that motivates or excites no one, we remove the essential ingredient to which the United States' education system should be all about -- the imparting of wisdom from the best and the brightest onto those charged with charting our collective future. No doubt, we need to revisit certain lessons of the past to figure out how to 'begin again' in this regard.
Our nation is only as good as the weakest link in our education system and we have many. Re-categorizing and re-addressing the teaching profession to be one of honor is a necessary step in the right direction. It will surely be a catalyst for many others to follow. Maybe then, will our kids exchange complaints about teachers 'inappropriately' discussing their personal lives in classrooms or swiping food from their lunch bags for more 'hopeful' ones, such as overcoming the hurdles required to achieve the highly coveted profession of their dreams -- that of becoming a TEACHER.
Maybe then will we not need the first few pages of our school's New Teacher Handbook to include the line: "Sarcasm is a no-no -- be nice to kids -- but maintain your proper role. Remember that they are our utmost concern"... and similar strikingly obvious and harmful behaviors.