nancylebov (nancylebov) wrote,

Teachers and respect

NPR had a segment about teachers are wonderful, let's say nice things about and to teachers while Making Light is having Dysfunctional Family Day, and the result was a bit of an emotional collision.

The thing is, one of the things which amplifies damage from dysfunctional families is a cultural assumption that all families are wonderful. Some families are wonderful, a lot of families are pretty good. Some families do damage, and some are horrific.

I didn't have any astonishingly awful teachers, nor any who were so good they changed my life. I don't think school was very good for me-- a lot of what I learned there was how to kill time, and the harassment from other students and the fact that the adults didn't seem to care about it is something I'm still dealing with.

I'm also relatively self-taught-- I taught myself to read, and (rather later) how to do calligraphy. Just about all the math I know, I learned in school. I'm not sure how much about writing I learned in school-- it seems to me I pretty much learned by reading and writing.

It's possible that I overestimate other people's ability to teach themselves, but it's also plausible that a lot of people's ability to learn (whether on own or with help) is damaged by conventional schooling. If nothing else, people seem apt to leave school with a background message that if they couldn't learn something in school, they can't learn it at all.

In any case, there are teachers who are skillful and dedicated and occasionally inspiring. There are teachers who are quietly competent. There are teachers who are vaguely ok[1] and convey a reasonable amount of their subject matter. There are teachers who are just serving time. There are teachers who are abusive, and there are teachers who are so abusive that the cause students to give up on specific subjects or on learning in general. And it's plausible that there are teachers who are hitting different parts of the range for different students, perhaps even excellent for some students and long-term disastrous for others.

Good teachers need some respect to even get started, though evoking respect is part of being a good teacher. Still, it's better if they don't have to start with students who don't respect teachers.

So, any thoughts about what a realistic attitude about teachers might look like?

[1] I realize there are people who find 'ok' profoundly annoying because it looks like a word to them but it isn't a word. However, I find 'OK' profoundly annoying because it gives EMPHASIS to something that I want to be a neutral part of the sentence. For some reason, 'okay' just doesn't look right to me, even though my spell checker likes it. I'm not willing to give up the word or whatever it is entirely.

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