Losing Respect for (some) Teachers

I haven’t blogged for a while because I’ve been at a loss of words for the world around me. I haven’t had many opinions lately which I guess is a writer’s greatest cripple. But lately, I’ve heard the same thing from the same people more than once, which to be honest is enough for me to think this is crazy.

I’ve been hearing a lot of teachers lately say this kid isn’t going to a 4-year college, no way this kid is going anywhere in life, or even these kind of kids don’t even exist in the real world.

A teacher recently wrote a letter to Stephen Curry that went viral. The letter asked Curry to not come to the teacher’s high school because it’d give the kids a false hope of a shot at the big league. Read it for yourself and then come back here because I have a hell of a thought about it. But before I go on a crazy rampage, I will admit that I don’t come from the same background as these kids – quite the opposite actually.

But there’s a message here that I can’t believe this man would communicate to Curry or his blog’s audience. All I’m hearing is this message of:

Don’t bother hoping. Reality is going to cripple you if you don’t keep an eye on it, so don’t divert your attention to this dream because you were disadvantaged from the beginning. And because you were disadvantaged from the beginning, you will never have a chance of catching up because your chance was never there and it’s all too late so focus on school and reality.

I disagree. I disagree so very much. There will always be a chance if you fight for it. There are few things in this world strong enough to motivate everyone, but it is a commonplace of life we all have: hope, aspirations, dreams. No matter how old, young, rich, or poor, everyone has aspirations and dreams. The ability to hope for more is the greatest thing our minds can do for us. Hope is the strongest saviour of all lives, it helps us thrive and endure.

So when this teacher wrote a letter, basically saying, don’t give my kids a false hope because they can’t even pass school, you’re so wrong. No, the message the kids need to learn is that school is just as important in achieving your dreams as is anything else, even if you don’t think it is.

Being a teacher is so much more than just teaching. It’s being another guardian for the hundred-fifty kids you see everyday. It’s providing hope, encouragement, and motivation. Teachers are the beacons that guide us from kindergarten through high school through college, passing knowledge down from one another. It’s more than just making lesson plans, giving homework, and correcting tests. There’s a heart and soul that comes to teaching.

Why would anyone become a teacher with this attitude then? An attitude that “if a student is taking this class, than they’re not going to a 4-year college”. Is it not your job to make sure we go to school and get a good education to propel us into a safe future. I just don’t understand.

I get that a lot of students come into school with no intention to learn. There’s not a ton you can do with high schoolers that are about to graduate and have gone through 12 years of school without giving any care for where they are. But, maybe some students have never been inspired to learn. Maybe no one has ever given them a reason to. If you ask a kid why he doesn’t give two wads of poo for school, he’ll tell you all different things but when it boils down to it, it’s because he thinks school won’t benefit him in the real world – that he can find good money in something else.

As a teacher, shouldn’t you at least try to shine a light on this kids noggin. Give him a perspective of how great life could be if he just worked a littler harder. Show him what success can taste like if he paid attention in class. Embrace his questions and urge him to ask more. Nurture the curiosity and spirit each student has.

That’s what teachers do right? Why are “teacher success” only so rarely applauded if there are MILLIONS of teachers all over the world? I remember my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Doyle, told me a story about a boy that would cheat on spelling tests by writing the answers on his sneakers, but then wouldn’t even use his cheat-cheat during the test. She realized it was the feeling of writing out the word that helped him, so she brought in a sandbox the size of a desk. She stayed after school with the boy and he would spell the letters out in the sand. From then on, he would ace the test with clean sneakers.

Maybe after years of teaching, it gets boring trying to save all these kids. Maybe that’s why I heard someone say those things. But when you have a student that’s been passed on each year, and you don’t have a goal to get the kid to a higher level class, that’s when you’ve given up on a student. You’ve given up on a student before ever giving a student a chance, and that’s the worst thing. At that point, please just stop teaching. I don’t want to hear excuses like “I’ve been teaching for over 10 years, I know how kids are.” Oh please don’t say that. Don’t generalize the whole youth population into what you’ve already known and never even give the student a chance of surprising you.

I’m losing respect for teachers as I hear more of what they say behind students’ backs. I’m blessed that I have some amazing teachers, but just completely broken that there are teachers that don’t even teach. Because you can’t teach 2x+2=8 or what the powerhouse of a cell is without a little compassion, a little hope, and some aspirations.

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