Professors and Teachers

Professor. Just the word elicits respect, and respect is something we don't have or show a lot of in 2018 America. We call physicians 'doc', coaches, bosses, aunts and uncles by their first names, and almost everyone else 'dude' … except for politicians and lawyers. But even the most confident of us wants to impress when dining or conversing with a professor.

Teacher doesn't have the same shine, does it? Teachers seem more human, more approachable, and generally speaking are not shown the type of respect college professors enjoy. Why?

College professors are almost invariably required to hold a master's degree, as are secondary school teachers in many states and all teachers in some states. Many professors hold doctorate degrees, as do an increasing number of teachers. College professors need only that master's degree in a subject area to get hired, while a prospective teacher's college course load must include several psychology, child psychology, child development and classroom management courses along with courses in teaching strategies and testing as well as advanced courses in their subject area. Teachers are also required to be scrutinized and licensed according to each state's standards - professors are not. It is therefore difficult to deduce that professors are more qualified than teachers.

As for the actual teaching, with all due respect to professors everywhere, pontificating in front of a hundred youngsters that desperately need a good grade, writing books that you can then require all your students to buy and keeping office hours does not even begin to compare to the struggles and rewards of teaching in a public school; hands dirty, barrels of patience, nuts and bolts teaching.

If professors aren't better qualified to teach and they aren't necessarily better teachers (in fact, professors can be horrible teachers and keep their jobs based on social or media status, authoring popular publications or other notoriety), then why do professors garner more respect than teachers?

Professors have it made. The first huge advantage they have over teachers is that their students want to be in class and are highly motivated to do well. The other, to be blunt, is that professors do not have to put up with any crap. Mouth off in a college course, and at the professor's discretion you can be banished from the course without any regard for the fact that you've already paid over five hundred dollars in tuition for the class or that it is the last credit you need to graduate. You. Are. Outta Here!

Obviously, dealing with a class of students that is wondering whether there'll be chocolate milk for lunch and a lecture hall filled with students that are looking forward to a cold beer after class present different challenges for instructors, as well as different expectations from their employers. It is reasonable to expect teachers to learn, practice and refine classroom management skills, as kids definitely will be kids, and as noted above, most teachers receive training in this area. The issue, is the line.

Is chewing gum worth a demerit? Is throwing a ball at another student's head worth being deprived of recess for a week? Does talking back to a teacher warrant a time-out, detention or corporal punishment (still legal and being practiced in nineteen states)? When does a student's behavior warrant action outside the auspices of classroom management and justify a trip to see the principal? The line gets trampled and dissipates until it is all but forgotten. And if a student does get removed from class, will the principal take action or just scold him and send him back for the teacher to deal with again? This is some of the aforementioned crap, up with which professors do not have to put! But wait, there's more!

Try telling the head of the math department at a university that she has to spend forty-five minutes on 'lunch duty' every day, and you can start looking for another person to head up your math department. Bus duty can be a boon, especially if you're a smoker that hasn't had a chance to get to the break room this morning, and standing around on the playground while there are papers to grade and students waiting for help can be as crazy-making as trying to drive from place to place in Seattle.

And then there's parents. Parents that believe that since they went to school they know how to do a teacher's job. Parents that believe that paying taxes makes them the teacher's boss. Parents that believe that any demand they make should be honored because that is THEIR kid and they have final say in any circumstance. Parents, the concerns of whom can almost always be best addressed by them attending class with their child to both witness behavior and get an accurate idea of how the teacher runs his class, but are almost never willing to do so because they need to go to work.

This indication that their job is more important than the teacher's will always coincide with a claim that the education of their child is the most important consideration. This 1) puts the teacher in a no-win, as it 2) dismisses the logical and recommended course of action because it is inconvenient for the parent and 3) makes the teacher a babysitter any way you slice it; one that, at least on occasion, has to take crap. And that's why teachers are not respected in the same way professors are.

No matter how much admiration we may have for a teacher, her abilities, the way he handles the students, her knowledge, his expertise, in the back of our minds they are also the reason that we can go to work or take classes or just enjoy a few silent moments during the day. This isn't going to change, but being a babysitting service by default does not mean that schools need to embrace, enable or encourage that role as a part of their existence. Contrarily, it should be adamantly resisted in the name of education and the future of our children and our nation.

Ask a teacher if sending the following note home, and sticking to what is says, would allow them to do a better job of doing their job, and watch the smile grow:

Dear Parents,

JFK Elementary School is an educational institution, dedicated to learning and helping to learn. Any student that disrupts the learning process for him/her or any of his/her classmates will be removed from class and expected to be picked up and taken home within thirty minutes of the notifying phone call.


Principal Pelotas

Classroom management? Sure. Disrespectful or disruptive behavior? No! Teachers are educators, not babysitters. Place the burden for behavior that was learned in the home on the people in the home and things will change. How many times do you think it will take for parents to be forced to leave work, lose money and jeopardize their jobs before they (finally) take responsibility and/or action?

Teachers deserve our respect, our gratitude, our consideration and the benefit of the doubt. Teachers help themselves when they demand and expect these things. Students and parents aide in the student's education when they show them. School administrators stand tall and true to ideals when they work to protect and encourage teachers receiving our respect, our gratitude, our consideration and the benefit of the doubt.

Teachers. Where would you be without yours?

Being Mean to Kids!

Who are these people? These old, white, prejudiced people that are running the country? These clones of nineteenth-century southern politicians, all looking more like wax figures than people, collectively emulating a parody of a White House staff and cabinet that is sadly and scarily real?

Any school teacher, any parent, anyone that has ever paid attention to someone other than themselves has learned that if frustration brings you to a point where spanking, yelling, hitting or maliciousness seems like a viable option, it is time to step away - rational thought has left the building. If the only thing these Washington automatons might have going for them is experience, we lose again, as this simple lesson has somehow eluded them. Now, in addition to racism, ignorance and lies we are going to add mean. And not just any mean - mean to kids.

Immigration is a touchy issue with a million layers. Everyone has an opinion and that's how it is supposed to be! The drain on our economy due to non-citizens living in the U.S. is real, but so are the jobs many of them fill, the taxes many of them pay and the lives they are hoping to live. We'll never be able to accurately quantify the pluses and minuses, and in the end the real issue is racism, as the bigots among us use discussions about the economy as a diversion. One thing is for certain: there were no Cherokee with the surname 'Trump'. WE ARE ALL IMMIGRANTS!

That doesn't mean that we are dutybound to accept every soul into our country that wants to enter, but it does mean that we at least need to remember that we are all human beings, no better or worse than the Gray Panthers that are running things or their immigrant ancestors. It means that we need to find humane ways to deal with this human issue.

Our history tells us we are not humane. We have tricked, stolen from and all but eradicated our Natives, enslaved Africans, sent American citizens to internment camps during WWII and detained, tortured and abused we'll never know how many innocent people at Guantanamo Bay. And now, in order to deter emigrants, the government plans to separate children from their parents and send the kids to military bases. No wonder the rest of the world hates us. Right now I hate us.

It is just mean. It is the bully beating the snot out of the little kid because he can; because there are no grown-ups around. It is the 300 pound defensive lineman pounding the quarterback play after play because the Referee believes in 'old fashioned football' and won't throw a flag. It is racist politicians saying, "I never liked you and now that I can do something about it I am going to crush you". Just mean for the sake of being mean. Grown men picking on little kids. Grown men so caught up in their hate for people of a certain skin tone that they are willing to put their own humanity aside and go after kids. Kids! Sweet little kids that have no choice but to go where their parents go, and will have no choice about being ripped from them. Kids! Just like the grandchildren the old, white, prejudiced people in charge dote over and protect. Kids.

It's hard to stomach on a daily basis, and I almost blew this off this morning and went out to do yardwork. But that's what they're counting on. If we stop complaining, he will find a way to make himself Chancellor like another crazy person did in 1933. He'll keep spewing lies and hate and bullshit until we stop him. He will continue to talk and behave like an unchecked bully, with his ridiculous collection of colorless 'yes' men (OK - one (white) woman) congratulating him.

How long are we going to let these fools drag us down into a national pit of disgrace? Where's the line if it isn't being mean to kids?

A graduate of Portland State University, Steve (Reeno) Kloser is the author of Beginning Band - A Guide to Success and Let's Make Music - Classroom Recorder Course. He is also an accomplished teacher, conductor and composer, having penned numerous pieces including La Vida and Fly With Me.

Teacher, web developer, Packers fan and proud American, Reeno's usually slanted outlook often presents an unlikely perspective on issues old and new.
Reeno currently lives in Portland, OR.

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