I can’t believe that this was actually a topic of conversation. Actually, it was the topic of a debate when I was either a freshman or sophomore in college. I was taking an introductory course to teaching and that day’s activity was to have a mock debate: “Is teaching a career or a job?.” Thank God I was on the pro-career side, because it made no sense to be on the other. I am not a teacher and actually did not have no intention of being one (I took the class for interest), but to say that it was not a career was insulting, even to a college student. I don’t really remember all of the debate points that were made, but I remember saying something pertaining to the fact that the all prestigious and powerful people in the world were taught by teachers. As a rebuttal, someone said “well, teachers get summers off and half days, snow days, etc.” Yes, they do, but that’s part of their job is it not? If people have a problem with it, then why don’t we send our kids to school with no summer break, no winter break or no spring break?
What I remember most about that debate was standing up and making a comparison to Japan in that the students refer to their teachers as “sensei” which can be translated as “master” and that they are treated with great honor and respect. I ended my point by saying that how can someone be treated and referred to as such if their position were not important. As a counterargument (by a girl that I had been battling back and forth) it was said that “this is America, not Japan” and that we do things our way, not based off of other people. I had no response. I really didn’t know what to say. It sounded right, but deep down I felt that it really wasn’t. She smirked in victory.
If it were ever possible for humans to jump back to a period in the past, this would be one of the moments that I would revisit and this is what I would say:
“Are you SERIOUS?! Your comment could not sound any more ignorant, and that is why other countries think Americans are stupid. No, this is not Japan. However, isn’t America always going on about how we’re such a diverse nation, how we’re a melting pot of different cultures? This isn’t Mexico, but don’t you eat tacos? Don’t we have countless numbers of hispanic restaurants? Don’t we teach Spanish in schools? This isn’t China, but don’t we have Chinese restaurants and teach Mandarin? Isn’t the very language we speak an infusion of different languages? Wasn’t it derived from other languages of different parts of the world? What in the hell are you talking about? No, this is not Japan, because if it were teachers would be so much more respected, and America’s placement standings in math and science would be much higher. Oh no, this is not Japan, so why don’t we do ourselves a favor and learn from them, shall we?” Whew! That felt good.
Teachers are not just teachers, they’re also babysitters. Whether they are teaching Kindergarten or seniors, they are constantly babysitting misbehaved kids-children whose parents don’t discipline them or aren’t in their life, kids who are completely different when they’re away from home, etc. Teachers are also social workers. They have to pay attention and report any signs of abuse, and a lot of the time teachers are who troubled kids turn to when they have no one else. I’m not saying that they’re perfect or that they should be. I am also not saying that every teacher out there is great, because trust me, I have had some bad ones. I’m saying that they deserve so much more respect (and pay) for what they do, especially the ones that love, I mean truly love their job. How can one say that a teacher who has retried after working for forty years in the industry did not have a career? This profession is truly one of great honor, and you know what? I love my teachers. Why? Because they worked to improve my life and make me a smarter person. Thank you to all the teachers and educators out there.
Peace and Love