What not to do to teachers

  • Education
  • Sunday, 25 May 2003

S.C. LEE of Petaling Jaya writes: 

In conjunction with Teachers Day on May 16, Sin Chew Daily published an article entitled (literally translated): “Correcting the misconceptions of teachers,” which sends out an S.O.S. to save our teachers. 

The points raised pertain to teachers in primary Chinese schools in particular, although as a teacher, I share similar experiences. Since many parents do not read Chinese papers, I thought it might be a good idea to share some of the pointers so that parents may heed the writer's advice. 

The article started by quoting a reader in an online posting, “Do you want your life to be shortened? Become a form teacher.” While this may be a rather extreme stand, it is more or less a reflection of the lamentable state that the teaching profession has slid into.  

The many years of suffering in silence, the lack of avenue for teachers to vent their pent-up frustrations, and the absence of courage to do so, have spiralled into a vicious cycle that renders teaching the vocation of last resort. 

While we have to correct public misconceptions of teachers, teachers too need to stop wallowing in self-pity and lift themselves out of their predicament. 

As parents who are in the position to help teachers, we should not:  

·SEEK respect on behalf of teachers. Come Teachers Day, there will be lip service to teachers' contributions and how we should respect teachers. However, respecting teachers should be from the heart and not when petitioned. 

·TREAT teachers as engineers of the human soul. This has become a platitude, especially in the Chinese community. Paraphrasing the words of an educationist, no human soul can be worked on if we believe that all humans are equal. A soul may be worked upon by destiny, but a soul working on another is inhuman, and any self-respecting teacher would not and should not bother to do so.  

·DEIFY teachers. Teachers are humans too and susceptible to human frailty. Glorifying and worshipping teachers would only conjure up images of saintly behaviour typified by sacrifice and altruism.  

·THINK that teachers work half-day only. Because of this perception, some make the erroneous conclusion that teaching is an easy job. Nothing is further from the truth. In addition to class teaching, teachers have to prepare lessons, mark assignments, set exam questions, collect fees, participate in in-service courses, counsel, make home visits, research topics, arrange the classroom, and organise numerous extra-curricular activities. These are enough to make even the most seasoned teachers shudder.  

Teachers need quality time to help raise their own families too. In this respect, school administrators should assume the role of protector by enunciating the actual tasks of teachers so that society has a clear understanding of what they do and stand for.  

·ABDICATE the educating responsibility to teachers. Some parents seem to think that once their children reach the school-going age, the next and subsequent phases of a child’s development into a responsible citizen become the sole responsibility of teachers. 

Hence, reproach for teachers will be the order of the day should the child become wayward. A parent’s responsibility in educating his own child is beyond delegation. 

The sooner everyone recognises that, the sooner school-leavers will become better citizens.  

Despite what is said, there are still people foolhardy enough to join the lowly paid, highly labour intensive, and stressful teaching profession.  

Ultimately, their reward will come in seeing their charges being moulded into responsible individuals. But until then, our appreciation and our assistance in debunking the above misconceptions would surely make their chosen career path that much less onerous.  

Happy Teachers Day! 


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