Others have noticed that teachers think of themselves as one step removed from coal mine workers

Teacher affirmationI’ve commented before about the way in which America’s teachers paint themselves as the hardest working, most pathetically abused people in America.  In 2011, I noted that today’s teachers work fewer hours and are paid more than my dad’s generation of teachers, but the latter didn’t whine all the time.  Last year, I posited a reason for the unusual deference teachers get, and it’s not because they’re the overworked saints of their own heated imaginations:

At National Review, Jason Richwine points out that this martyrdom shtick benefits them in intangible ways, and is the flip side of the disdain with which doctors are increasingly treated in our society.  This got me thinking about the fact that, in every society that socialized its medicine, doctor’s status instantly degraded.  This is true whether you’re looking at the Soviet Union, Cuba, England, Canada, France, or anywhere else.  This is true even though doctors have the longest education and apprenticeship of any job in America and, once they’re working, they truly hold our lives in their hands.  Likewise, in every socialized society, teachers’ status improves.  This is true despite the fact that their training places a moderate demand on their time and they don’t hold our lives in their hands.

Thinking about it, of course, this socialist inversion makes perfect sense.  Teachers produce the next generation of socialists; doctors cost money by saving the lives of old socialists who no longer contribute to the commune.  The relative values assigned these jobs in a socialist society has nothing to do with their contributions to the individual and everything to do with their contributions to the state.

Richwine and I aren’t the only ones paying attention to this teacher worship phenomenon.  Writing at The Federalist, Daniel Payne, a homeschooling parent, also asks “Why Do Teachers Complain So Much?”  His theory is that teachers lack backbone.  Products themselves of America’s public school system, they have no ability to face adversity.

Reading his post, it also occurred to me that today’s teachers, unlike teachers of yore and homeschooling parents today, have an infinitely harder time teaching, not because students are inherently worse behaved than they were 50 years ago, but because their pedagogical tools are so poor.  Whole language is sneaking its way back into the classroom, despite a thirty year run of failures that saw the pendulum swing, way too briefly, back to phonics teaching.  Since we have a phonetic alphabet, the latter is the only teaching methodology that makes sense.  And those countries, such as China, that do not have phonetic alphabets, spend way more than 45 minutes per day, 5 days a week, making sure their students master “whole word” recognition.

Math too is becoming increasingly impossible because Common Core has also abandoned common sense.  In addition, where teachers once taught English classes that focused on language and composition and history classes that spoke admiringly of our own country, their English classes are now Left value propaganda and their history classes are deeply depressing diatribes about how evil we are.  Kids don’t want to learn this stuff, and no wonder.

English teachers

My conclusion would be that today’s teachers whine partly because they’re not as tough as past generations were, and partly because they teach in a socialized system that simultaneously elevates their status even as it makes teaching an impossible, demoralizing, and depressing job.  The cognitive dissonance this forces on the teachers is an uncomfortable mental realm to inhabit.

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  • sabawa

    My husband retired last November (well, actually, the company told him they were ‘going in a different direction’), so that was that.  He was a mask design engineer.  There are no unions for people who do what he did.  He was salaried….so you work until the project is completed b/c the marketing ppl promise the customer a specific chip by a certain date.   When I hear teachers whining all the time….with their benefits and teacher’s aids assisting them in the classroom, I  feel like yelling, ‘it’s a job, do it and be quiet’.   

  • GingerB

    Since I spent almost 20 years as a Media Specialist (i.e. Librarian) in a public Middle School, I found this so interesting.
    This has been going on for at least 40 years because almost all of my teachers in High School complained about being underpaid.  Even so, many of us who went on to college ended up in Education.
    The excellent/good teachers aren’t paid enough, the poor/disastrous are paid too much and the average/ middling are paid about right- BUT pay is determined by  seniority and additional degrees.   You can end up with a  horrible teacher with a doctorate getting paid a lot more than a great first year teacher with a bachelor’s degree. We had annual evaluations but it was pretty much a formality. 
    My teacher friends do feel “enslaved” by the new Common Core, but I don’t know enough about it to comment on it, except to say that the math problems I’ve seen look confusing.

  • lee

    My mom who worked first as a teacher, then as a school librarian, and finally as a “media specialist” before she retired after 34 years in the business would have agreed with you wholeheartedly.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Teachers used to have authority in the form of leadership or guardianship over the little ones.
     
    Since their authority was stripped by the unions, they are left looking for other ways to get power, such as victimhood. If they can lay claim to victimhood, they acquire self righteous justifications as well as luxurious benefits. But they will never obtain the authority given to a sensei in Japan, for example. That authority isn’t given to victims, but to examples and leaders.
     
     

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    In Japan, they have 3 alphabets they use for different reasons. Katakana, hiragana, and kanji. Kanji would thus be the Chinese ideo gram symbols we normally think of as Asian writing. The katakana and hiragana are phonetic alphabets that can be translated into kanji. Then there’s old kanji and new kanji, as well as composites of different kanji.
    China’s problem is that they don’t have a phonetic alphabet. They only use kanji. What romanization they do have, is not standardized and the spellings make it almost impossible to google anybody’s name, for example, based on a Western spelling. Chinese kanji is the same across all regions, but the way it is pronounced and the various different north and south dialects are completely different.
    In English, it would be comparable to Scottish vs Australian vs Old American South. Nobody knows how to spell the other’s words and they can’t even figure out how to pronounce the words of the other’s dialect.
    Common Core’s “Whole Word” is merely another way to express mind control.
     
     
     
    So in Japanese schools, “whole word” ideology isn’t expected out of teenagers. Manga and what are not, are almost always written in hiragana. If there is a kanji word used, furigana is put up top to ensure people know how it is pronounced. Kanji is considered top tier literature, only the most advanced students, older adults, writers, and geniuses are expected to be able to use and understand it fluently.
     

  • Libby

    There are likely a lot of reasons for this, but I imagine that teachers & administrators elevating themselves to parent-like status for their students has contributed. You’ve got labor unions exaggerating “educator” importance for better bargaining position, combined with their focus on activism/scope creep way outside of the traditional reading, writing & ‘rithmetic (such as nutrition, politics, morality). There’s an attitude that pervades among many that they know better than parents how best to raise their students, that they play a much greater role in their students’ lives. So of course they expect to be paid more and given much more respect.

  • jj

    I am unable to generate any respect whatsoever for most of the teachers I encounter.  But, being without kids I don’t encounter them regularly, which is good – for them – but I do from time to time attend school board meetings.  Let us remember, it isn’t just the teachers: it’s also the school boards.  Our local school board superintendent is a fairly worthless bit of flotsam whom the taxpayers have somehow decided to pay $168,000 a year.  I suspect no one quite knows for what, or why, or how that happened.  When taxpayers, also known as: “his bosses” stand up at board meetings to wonder about exorbitant teacher salaries and exorbitant expense, and how their money is being immolated in general, he routinely finds their comments “unconscionable.”  My wife no longer attends meetings with me, since the time I rose to point out to him that when the people for whom he works question the way their money – THEIR money – is being spent, that may be many things but “unconscionable” is not one of them.  I further suggested that he ought not use words when he doesn’t know what they mean.  And when he replied in a manner unbecoming in a public servant and a twerp,  I challenged him on the spot to spell “unconscionable” and indicated that I was willing to wager a sizable sum right here in front of our television audience he couldn’t.  He did not accept the wager.  I guess proving that he has a claim, no matter how slight, to literacy is beneath his dignity or something.
     
    Doctors, precisely those people who do indeed hold our lives in their hands, clearly the most educated, dedicated, and among the most intelligent members of society, are now in line to be pissed on.  I notice they’re not even granted the dignity of being doctors any more; these days they’ve become “providers.”    I guess they spent all those years in ‘Provider School” after graduating from college.  I wonder what the worth and dignity of arising as a “provider” every morning might be, after all that time and effort in med school. 
     
    I bet I’ve known upwards of twenty people, among them Howard Cosell, who would tell you the story of how their fathers worked and slaved because they wanted their kid (them, the narrator) to be a “professional man.”  Oddly enough, the guys with these stories were all lawyers.  Several of them, including Cosell, were honest enough to admit that medical school was just too goddam hard,  much harder than law school ever thought of being.  It also requires more dedication and brains, takes longer, interning will kill you, and it demands that  you evidence concern about other people.  So they made their fathers happy by becoming professional men, but they sure as hell didn’t go to med school!  They took the easier road and became lawyers: masters of society.  We have far too many of them, not enough doctors right now, and these proportions will only grow worse in Obama’s brave new world.
     
    It’s amazing to me that we as a society are at the point of telling doctors what they’re able to make, (less and less); but lawyers remain free to think that their time is worth hundreds of dollars an hour.  And it grows every year!  Any intelligent person might well wonder, why is that?  Who contributes what to society?  Who do we need?  Whose absence would leave us in tough shape?  And then of course you realize that every worthless son of a bitch in Washington DC has been through law school – even Biden and Reid! – and the Koch brothers and NRA only wish they could afford to contribute what the ABA and the Trial Lawyers do to politicians every year.
     
    We have set up a society to reward the dross.  Teachers avoid any and all performance requirements or reviews: we burden them with no expectations.  And lawyers?  Ah, well: a lawyer is the thing to be, isn’t it?  Who else can make millions of dollars a year and still find it necessary to charge for a piece of paper if somebody wants to make a copy of something? 

  • Spartacus

    Most of the problems we have in this country are problems which we choose to have, and education is high on the list: there is no good reason it has to be like this.
     
    The typical state spends maybe half its budget on schools, and whines incessantly during discussions on taxes that its burden is almost too heavy to bear.  It spends an average of about $10,700 per student per year, with the average teacher taking in $55,000 per year [source].  Absent other expenses, that implies a 5:1 :: teacher : student ratio.  But we keep hearing of dreadful overcrowding, so the arithmetic says there must be hundreds of thousands of dollars of “other expenses” per classroom.
     
    Private schools, on the other hand, seem to get the job done for about half the per-student cost.  And a lot of parents, if it were just a little more affordable, would love the school choice, religious freedom, and general accountability of a private school.  Were states to offer 50% of what they currently spend per student in the form of vouchers and sell off the infrastructure of their public school systems to nascent private schools, they could chop about 25% out of their state budgets; divest themselves of the responsibility of something at which they are not especially good; increase competition, accountability and performance without lifting a finger; nearly eliminate the problem of one bad system ruining the whole crop; balance the state budget; and have lots of money left over.
     
    But that won’t happen, because a poorly structured education system is one of those problems which we choose to have.  Gotta indoctrinate those little darlings, and gotta keep that NEA campaign cash flowing.

    • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

      Hussein and the Left thinks that private circles are private, the riff raff should be kept out. So they won’t let people have vouchers, while keeping their kids in private ed. Public DC school wasn’t good enough for the new Whitehouse aristocracy.
       
       

  • Utica City School District Kemble School

    I have Utica City School Districts Register of Attendance The University of the State of New York The State Education Department July 1, 1947-June 30, 1948 owned by Bernadette Eichler. This piece of history was thrown out by the building principal when they closed Kemble down and this historical memorabilia would not be here today had I not taken this out of the dumpster!
     
    In this she had 22 boys and 12 girls teaching 4th grade and all these kids in one room. Those kids were of various ages born in 1934 and some born in 1938.
     
    The mandatory attendance was 190 school days with 197 allocated during the school year.
     
    Then she had to add each child’s attendance not only for each child then add all of them together an example May 21, 1948 monthly attendance closing date these were her numbers 5727 she had to add and multiply all the kids together and submit these numbers on a monthly basis for the district to collect aid. 
     
    Some of their unlawful detention, meaning kept out of school were ‘digging potatoes,” “picking apples,” “garden work,” “no shoes,” “no rubbers,” “no clothes” get the picture Remember this was 1947-1948 school year.
     
    There was a place that would have shown her salary but that wasn’t filled in. Today if Eichler was alive she would be 48 she was 50 years older than me and was at Kemble Elementary School when my mother was a child and went to Kemble from grade K-4. 
     
    They worked a longer year, mom said there were no specialized subjects such as art, music and gym the classroom teacher taught you those things and you had an hour for lunch and we all went home for lunch her mother used to pick her up and take her home to Watson Pl.
     
    Todays teachers only want their prep periods however, one also must target administrators, slash their salaries and force them into the classroom on a daily basis and mandate them to teach their subject their license are approved for them to teach! I see too many administrators who are abusive and one so much who is now raking in over $7,100 a month plus his Social Security for crimes he had done as an administrator.

    • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

      Utica City School District Kemble School:  That is an absolutely fascinating historical record.  Thank you so much for sharing it here — and reminding us how far we’ve traveled (and not necessarily in the right direction).

  • Utica City School District Kemble School

    Revised:
     
    I have Utica City School Districts Register of Attendance The University of the State of New York The State Education Department July 1, 1947-June 30, 1948 owned by Bernadette Eichler. This piece of history was thrown out by the building principal when they closed Kemble down and this historical memorabilia would not be here today had I not taken this out of the dumpster! In this she had 22 boys and 12 girls teaching 4th grade and all these kids in one room. Those kids were of various ages born in 1934 and some born in 1938. The mandatory attendance was 190 school days with 197 allocated during the school year. Then she had to add each child’s attendance not only for each child then add all of them together an example May 21, 1948 monthly attendance closing date these were her numbers 5727 she had to add and multiply all the kids together and submit these numbers on a monthly basis for the district to collect aid. 
     Some of their unlawful detention, meaning kept out of school were ‘digging potatoes,” “picking apples,” “garden work,” “no shoes,” “no rubbers,” “no clothes” get the picture Remember this was 1947-1948 school year. There was a place that would have shown her salary but that wasn’t filled in. Today if Eichler was alive she would be 98 she was 50 years older than me and was at Kemble Elementary School when my mother was a child and went to Kemble from grade K-4 she just recently died and worked I believe over 50 years. They worked a longer year, mom said there were no specialized subjects such as art, music and gym the classroom teacher taught you those things and you had an hour for lunch and we all went home for lunch her mother used to pick her up and take her home to Watson Pl.

     Todays teachers only want their prep periods however, one also must target administrators, slash their salaries and force them into the classroom on a daily basis and mandate them to teach their subject their license are approved for them to teach! I see too many administrators who are abusive and one so much who is now raking in over $7,100 a month plus his Social Security for crimes he had done as an administrator.

    Reply

  • Charles Martel

    In almost any American university, the major that attracts the least motivated, least literate, and least intelligent students is education. The students who major in that study know that if they can wrangle tenure, they’ll have a lifetime job where their security and sinecure are close to bullet-proof. Yes, some of the more intelligent and motivated ones will aspire to do more than just show up to indoctrinate our supply of future socialists and low-information dunces, but they will always be the exceptions.   
     
    When I was on the elementary school district board in my hometown, the near stupidity of the younger teachers was impossible to ignore. As the education schools churned out more product with fewer skills and less intelligence, we had to take what we could. This in an affluent area that prided itself on good schools designed to track children into prestigious universities and solid upper middle-class adulthoods.
     
    The stupidity was cloaked simply by dressing it up in liberal pieties, like purporting to teach kids to be “critical thinkers” who, living as “world citizens,” would be “collaborative” and “team players.” Not a single mention of simple literacy or numeracy, or even a basic knowledge how to detect fallacies. Newspeak ruled the day, and Newspeakers have never been noted for their smarts.

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    The nature of public education in America today surely exercises a strong selective influence on the kind of people who choose to work in that field. If you pursue a career in public K-12, in many if not most areas of the country, then:
    –your income will be determined by seniority and credentials, not by performance
    –you will have to take numerous mind-numbing “education” courses before you are allowed to teach
    –your work environment will be filled with jargon and subject to extreme micromanagement
    –a high % of your students will care nothing for what you are attempting to teach them, may well be openly disrespectful, and will frequently be backed up by parents and administrators
    –but, on the other hand, you will have a high degree of job security
    I’m sure there are many dedicated people who seriously care about education and go into the field *despite* the above points, but by and large, they surely select for people with certain not-very-desirable characteristics.

  • MacG

    “Said no teacher ever”  Guess those who profess in University two hundred fifty seat lecture halls are not teachers?

  • http://www.amazon.com/Occupy-Innsmouth-ebook/dp/B009WWJ44A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361504109&amp raymondjelli

    They bitch because they have made sure they are an extension of the state and the kids are simply inputs to them. Yes it is a hard job in many ways but if they had to earn the kids attendance by competing against each other I think they would look at the kids as challenges that they are lucky to have rather than space filler to insure their civil service salary. People are hard but when you want them as customers your attitude changes in  a hurry.

  • Soviet of Washington

    Cosell mentions in one of his books (don’t remember which) that after he left law for sportscasting, his father for the rest of his life begged his (Howard’s) wife Emmy to convince Howard to go back to “the profession”.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Instead of detention or suspension, a lot of kids would be better motivated by punishment that allowed them to contribute to the public good. Like cleaning the restrooms.
     
     

  • lee

    I am not too inclined to bend over so far backwards for doctors. Yes, they do go to school for a long time. But having worked with A LOT of doctors, I find most of them to be insufferable jerks who feel entitled.  Now having said that, I can think of some wonderful doctors who are NOT like that. (And a surgeon who is, but somehow still manages to be nice and charming.)
     
    I admit I was spoiled by growing up with a truly amazing doctor. He was a dedicated member of the Brethren Church, and felt his career was about doing good for people. He was a country doctor, and, yes, did often take payment in chickens and stuff. He still did well financially, and was one of the wealthier men in town, though not ostentatious about it. He was also just a GOOD doctor, knowledgable, but also modest enough to understand where his expertise might be lacking. After he retired from general practice, he did a stint teaching emergency medicine at the state’s medical school.

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