Parenthood is a job that requires one to give up almost all of one’s time and energy for the well-being of another. Teachers too are, by nature, givers. The desire to help others, to give something for others’ inspiration, to be a part of students’ betterment, to inspire the children in the classroom are some of the reasons many young people choose this path in life.
We find the teachers constantly giving for others especially a young and idealistic teacher. He/she truly believes he is helping a young person. He/she would mark the test papers whole night, spending hours perfecting lessons or making resources. Oftentimes there wouldn’t be any distinction between his/her personal and professional lives.
These days the class monitoring and paperwork that teachers have to endure has increased in volume and perceived importance. The teachers struggle to keep up with the inefficient record keeping at schools and the endless meetings. The frequency of testing has also increased and the content the teachers are asked to teach has become more prescriptive.
Even with all these pressure at work, teaching as a profession has steadily seen a decline in a decent wage. Privately run schools, with a few exceptions, regularly underpay and overwork their staffs. As a teacher ages, he can see his youth slipping by, wages stagnate, pensions reduced and have reduced job security. Still teachers keep working in the face of losing the prime years of their lives, dwindling resources, limited rights, and rarely even their sanity being taken away.
Sometimes people who influence the growth of a society the least are the ones who are paid the most. Why is this so? You’d love a teacher if they shield your kids from a crazed gunman shooting up a school, protecting them. You adore educators when they use their bodies to protect a kid from a falling wall. But the moment the teachers decide to unite to voice their grievances about limited job security or reasonable pay or manageable workload and all of sudden they are labeled as crazy union thugs.
With lack of respect and with minimum wages, teachers today spend the last ounce of their energy trying to make a difference in their students’ lives. Teaching as a profession is losing its pride. Teachers along with politicians have taken the respect out of their professions for so long that the public has lost faith in them. Look at the recent doctors’ strike which people were largely supportive of. In contrast, during the teachers’ strike, there were comments from parents and general public about how selfish the teachers were. The teachers today are treated as the slaves of the 21st century.
Young people should be able to see teaching as a profession that’s both noble and sustainable. It’s about time the teaching profession is elevated to the level where it truly belongs. The teachers should be rewarded for their dedication to teaching the children.
One change that needs to come is in the attitudes of the parents. They generally believe that since they are paying for the teachers’ salaries, it gives them an upper hand in dealing with the school and the teachers. This same attitude is passed onto their wards as they spend more time with their guardians than they do with their teachers.
Teaching and teachers have shaped generations and informed the masses for centuries. It still plays a vital role in lifting a populace out of illiteracy. However, the abundance of educators shouldn’t mean the value of each educator is diminished. In contrast, it just means that we can now educate more people.
By Akhil Karna
The writer is a secondary Mathematics teacher at Suvatara School.