What if this were the perception of teachers!? cc licensed flickr photo shared by instantvantage
One of my former colleagues was very fond of saying “Perception is reality.” A recent discussion with some friends brought this back to mind as we talked about how students build knowledge. The discussion focused on our belief that students, and all human beings for that matter, build their opinions of things by interpreting the facts and not
Continuing on this line of thinking, one of my unending struggles centers around my inability to understand the negativity towards educators in the United States. I know I tend to take a simplistic view on some complicated issues, but really is this that complicated? Perhaps, it is.
Here is what I know for sure:
- Teachers work hard
- Nearly everyone has been involved with a significant number of teachers
- Most teachers are passionate about students and education
- We can all quickly name those teachers who made a difference for us
- We can all quickly name those teachers who we have a negative perception of and it is an extremely low percentage of the teachers we had
- The negative memories are strong ones
My first hypothesis on the negativity towards teachers is quite simple. The fact that these negative memories of a small number of teachers remains so vividly in people’s minds leads to this sad stereotyping of teachers and the unfair painting os so many with the same bitter brush. Fortunately, I have a more positive view of people than to end with this very low-level conclusion. I also am not willing to simply blame the media who play a large role with negative sound bytes and attention-grabbing headlines anytime one of the 7.2 million employed under the title school personnel do something ridiculous and/or criminal. Isn’t it a given that when we take any group that size, we will have some members of that group who we would like to disassociate ourselves with? I mean we are not so simpleminded to just assume an entire group should be moved out the door for the actions of a miniscule percentage.
But then I begin to wonder if there is not something bigger at play here. Could this negativity be building due to the fact that more and more adults are finding that the skills that they acquired during their formal education are not serving them well as they try to make a living? Is there a growing population of people who are starting to realize that much of what they spent time on in our schools left them unprepared for the world beyond our doors?
While it is clearer each day that we need to change how we educate our students, I am left to ponder if the change in how we educate will lead to a change in how we perceive educators?