Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Kids, leave the teachers alone

I've had the misfortune of having some very terrible teachers. Despite being a very privileged child, who attended some of the nicest schools possible, I still had to suffer through some crazy people.

One in particular was a fat, heartless shell of a human being. She taught a completely pointless subject called Socially Useful and Productive Work (SUPW). That was a glorified arts and crafts kind of class, where it is nearly impossible to have objective standards anyway. Really, how do you judge a 12 year old on his hour-long craft work? So grades meant nothing. But that didn't stop this heartless woman from being rude, belittling the work of kids, and expressing her strong disapproval at 90% of the students.

At the time I thought she had something personal against me, but now I realize that she was equally scathing to nearly everyone. I disliked her weekly class enough that I even considered being ill regularly on that day. My brother and I knew where she lived, and we concocted elaborate plans involving her walk from the bus-stop to her house... and hockey sticks. Too bad we were too cowardly to actually do anything. Sadly, we didn't even own hockey sticks, and took no interest in the sport either.

As a child, it is difficult to appreciate how useful and valuable you are. Teachers like her shatter any feeling of self-worth that might have grown in the child. This, I feel, is a terrible loss. Children should be told at every step of the way that they are valuable and special. And no teacher should be allowed to shatter this belief. If the child is to be fed a delusion, I prefer a delusion that allows them to experiment, to feel powerful and capable rather than a delusion that they are worthless.

It is easy to think that school is the entire world, when you are 12 years old. School is all you have seen, after all. Your life revolves around it. Contact with the outside world is extremely limited, and it is difficult to get a perspective of the school's role. Students don't realize that the teachers are actually employed by the students (the students' parents, really) and are paid to teach. Even in Government schools, the state (through taxes paid by the citizens) pays the teachers. The position of power is actually in the student body. In the case of minors, the position of power is with the parents' collective. They can force the management of a school to discipline teachers.

But no teacher wants to tell the students this. After all, a collection of 30 students vastly outnumbers (and outranks) the teacher. If everyone complains, the teacher is headed for trouble.

So here is my delayed advice to my younger self (or my timely advice to the younger generation):

Suffer through no teacher. Get together, and discipline that bad teacher, because that person is working for you. Preserve your self-worth and know that you're headed to make a significant impact on the world around you. Unlike that bad teacher.

And in case not much action can be done, ignore the teacher. Find another way to learn the subject. There is little impact to skipping class when the teacher is horrible. I speak from experience! You will walk away with a better appreciation of the subject if you don't let someone butcher the topic first.

Leave the bad teachers alone, to wallow in their own misery. You have the whole world to explore.