Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.
Tue, 27 Jul 1993
MORE ON THE METAPHOR EXERCISE
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
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."