Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Tue, 27 Jul 1993

Why are so many of us educators so blasted defensive, so over-sensitive to criticism, and so inclined to deflect criticism however constructive and revealing it may be? Are we so fearful in our person and insecure in our job? Do we not have sufficient pride in our craft to know we can do a better job, that our "best" can ALWAYS be better? Such soul-searching in my book is a sign of strength and courage, not an indication of weakness and incompetency.

I ask these quick questions because one teacher contacted me and wrote the following about the metaphor results:

The problem may stem from our society's general attitude that education, in and of itself, is not valuable. I don't think this idea has been particularly stressed or furthered by K-12 teachers or Univ. profs, but by parents and by societal members.

Whether an education is valuable or not is not the issue. Besides, I think that is bunk. No one denies the value of an education; it is a question of the extent to which education that is presently being provided is valuable and valued. I strongly feel it is valuable, but it can be greatly, very greatly, improved. The perceptions of the students deal with the critical matter of the attitude and behavior of the teachers toward the students, the nature of the classroom spirit, the role models the teachers present, all of which seem to be destructive and denigrating. After all, why has the innate curiosity of the toddler become virtually extinct fifteen years later? To say that it is those awful parents and those ethereal, elusive "societal members," makes as much sense as saying it is in the water. Ah, everything would be so wonderful for us educational professionals, us "experts," if it wasn't for "them." It's so very seldom "us" who is at fault and bear some responsibility for the situation; it's always "them" who are the culprits. Give me a break. We're in denial. Do we really think that parents and "societal members" have nothing else to do but sit down and propagandize their children against us teachers. Do we really think that strangers, those "societal members" again, are lurking behind every corner whispering into the students' ear, that small cells of "them" are secretly gathering in homes conspiring against the teachers? Besides, you would think that with all the time spent with the students we teachers, by our actions and words, could offer the children some effective, alternative, constructive and encouraging imagery. And, isn't it true that in this day and age of the educated baby boomers, these "societal members" and parents of whom you disparagingly talk are the people whom we have educated? And, if they do indeed possess such perceptions and pass them on to the kids, it still comes back to haunt us as the source of these attitude.

There's no conspiracy "out there." I think some hard honesty is in order, an honesty that will direct us to ourselves as the true source of these perceptions. We are the painters, sculptors, architects of those mind constructs. That might be scary, but it is closer to the truth. We educational "experts" must have the courage to engage in self-reflection, assume the responsibility for the situation, and change both our attitudes and our ways. Until we do, little will change.

This teacher used the following quote to end her message: "We often find stones in our way; we can stumble over them, we can climb over them, or we can build with them." I would add, "or we can let them bar our way."

Make it a good day.


Louis Schmier  (912-333-5947)
Department of History                      /~\    /\ /\
Valdosta State University          /^\    /   \  /  /~ \     /~\__/\
Valdosta, Georgia 31698           /   \__/     \/  /     /\ /~      \
                            /\/\-/ /^\___\______\_______/__/_______/^\
                          -_~     /  "If you want to climb mountains, \ /^\
                             _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -\____

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