And to one who changed my life
Some years ago in the UK, there was a drive by the government to recruit more school teachers. I remember driving past a billboard which had a picture of a teacher with a group of young people engaged in some activity, but what I remember were the words at the bottom:
"No-one forgets a good teacher."
How true, I thought. That kind of immortality is better than people who try to get their names engraved on buildings.
As in every field, teachers range from bad to great. I had one especially odorous high school history teacher, but mostly good teachers, and several who were exceptional. I am very grateful. To have had an Alice Camp at a critical time is a lifetime treasure.
I have always been troubled by the contrast between what we pay athletes and movie stars versus teachers, firefighters, police, nurses, and social workers. Nothing is too much for those who entertain us but anything is too much for those who train, protect, or care for us.
Even here in California, where we so often lead the nation in progressivism, we grossly underfund education. As a country, hostility toward education and intelligence play a huge role in bringing us to Trumpism. Even in the absence of that blight, it has been an impediment to achieving the most good for the most people.
The fact that people are collectively shortsighted, stupid, unkind, and self-harming is the best evidence that people are collectively shortsighted, stupid, unkind, and self-harming!
If we became a society that so esteemed teachers that only the best could win that job, that would indicate that we were well on our way to solving all of our societal problems.
I just read an article written by an economist (of course) that tells us that schooling is so ineffective that we shouldn’t even bother with it. That author does not pause to consider that *under-funded and under-valued schooling in a society marked by gross inequality* performs poorly. He does not examine how measures of success differ between better-funded and respected programs in wealthy neighborhoods and those operating in more common and less favorable conditions. He does not consider any measures at all other than rote memorization. He takes no account of any sociological factors such as the prevalence of attitudes such as his in our money is everything culture.
The good teachers showed us there was a world of magic doors to unlock, then held out the keys and placed them in our hands. To diminish or demean their importance is shameful. The thanks we fail to give them and the low pay we offer is an insult. Ellis Johnson M.D.
It’s great to see this tribute again especially with the comment from her son.
You are right: we need to pay our teachers a salary that puts them comfortably in the middle class, and allocate funds for school supplies. Teaching grade school should attract qualified, motivated, caring professionals.
Robert: Thanks for this. What I am reminded of is an economics prof, who I'm certain you knew, who was the sole Marxist in our very conservative economics department. He taught micro-economics (the theory of the firm) as was expected, but kept reminding us that it was all about efficiency and was silent on fairness. His examples of how the optimal market solution often resulted in injustices was a great lesson I will never forget. '70
Teachers are often the first connection we make outside of our family groups so their influence is enormous. My husband was a kindergarten teacher for many years - he loved this age group and the children certainly loved him as well. He never raised his voice in the classroom; if things were getting a bit too lively, he would talk more quietly and the children had to quiet down to hear his voice! He celebrated their aliveness - something we could all remember to do, always.
Thank you for this post. I too, enjoyed my years of teaching. I feel very fortunate to have been able to teach science, which I love. I hope I was able to instill the same love and appreciation for science that Ms Camp gave you.
I also remember those teachers who impacted me. This morning I will be going into Discovery High School as a long-term substitute for the English Department. I try to give every student my best.
I spent forty years in the classroom, mostly middle school, and taught in a progressive school in England and taught English to Soviets during Gorbachev’s time. I loved those years beyond words but had my time. Now I write, onto my Sixth book, all to share the love and necessity to teach, to teach so children learn, not listen to me but learn. I write now to give hope for better days in the classroom. Without hope where will we be?
My mother was a teacher like Alice Camp. My mother was my very best education professor because she was right there in the classroom, and I spent countless hours helping in her class. She loved her students, all of them. She, too, spent countless hours at home making preparations for her classroom. She also spent thousands of dollars buying materials, so she would have what she needed to teach her lessons. My mother’s very best advice to me as a beginning teacher was that I should love my students because I might be the only one who ever did.
FYI- the median teacher salary in NC is $55,100. That $275,500 BONUS would pay for 5 teachers. Is there something wrong with that picture? Are hedge fund managers essential to the operation of society? Just asking.
Pay the teachers what the investment bankers get and pay the investment bankers what teachers get.
Teachers paying for their own school supplies is not new: my mother was an elementary school teacher decades ago (she recently passed) and SHE had to buy supplies with her own money from a list she was REQUIRED to shop from, the most egregious example of which was that she was REQUIRED to buy M&Ms for a particular lesson on sorting and counting instead of using her best judgement to buy something non edible and non sugary for obvious reasons. She eventually retired early just to stop having to deal with the bullshit.
I had Wonderful teachers all throughout my education, I never made it to college do to a litany of medical issues. But I hope to one day be well enough to get something accomplished along those lines.
Our nations teachers have never been paid enough and it’s only getting worse because now they have to deal with (excuse my language) dumbass politicians forcing hamstrung curriculums on them and hanging posters that belie the separation of church and state. It’s beyond ridiculous.
I taught high school math, my wife was a Special Ed teacher and my son taught high school starting through Teach for a America.. today I am glad I am not teaching for exactly the reasons you noted. Living in a red state with a blue governor things are not bad but I fear his replacement.
Yes! This sums the whole thing up! “ I don’t think there’s a “teacher shortage.” I think there’s a shortage of teaching jobs that treat educators with the dignity — and give them the pay — they deserve.”