There once was a joke going around about doctors and their qualifications. The joke went something like this: Q: What do you call a doctor who barely passes his exams? A: Doctor! The same is true for teachers. What do you call a teacher who barely passes the state exams? A teacher. And the sadder tale is that those people are held in the same esteem as the ones who successfully acquired their credentials and are more competent.
I have been witness to various degrees of experience, talent, and ability. What I have observed is that those who barely get their foot in the door are just as apt to boast as those who have a right to. Only those in “the know” actually know the difference…well, the students know also! When I first began the process of accreditation, I was shocked to hear of people who had tested five or six times and still hadn’t passed. All I could imagine was that the test was truly a monster. I asked one of the professors about this, and she told me that most passed the first, or at least the second, time. I began to breathe again. Then I noticed a pattern. Those who kept testing and re-testing weren’t doing very well in any of their classes. In fact, the more I learned, the happier I was to see them fail. I didn’t want someone teaching my children who could barely read or write him/herself.
Now I know there are those who simply cannot test due to anxiety, and those people are excused. They have transcripts proving that they know the information. I am talking about the others who have a deep desire to work/play with little kiddies and think that that makes them a qualified candidate for teaching. If that is the underlying motivation, I say, “Go work in a daycare!” or “Have a few of your own!” Then there are the ones who are overly engrossed in subject matter. They graduate with a degree in a subject that is probably totally irrelevant to surviving in the real world, and so the only option left to them is to teach that subject. Again, this leads to major problems because humans have not been calculated into the equation. There has to be both the desire to teach individuals, care for them, nurture them, AND knowledge of subject, classroom management, etc.
The real life scenarios I have witnessed with these two distinct groups are scary to say the least. (Keep in mind there are thousands of qualified individuals in between these two spectrums, and I greatly appreciate their talents and sacrifices!) On one hand, the barely there teacher somehow manages to squeak through the system and ends up needing a job. Scenario 1 – She gets a job and (heaven help us!) begins to instruct our own children. It has pained me to see notes come home misspelled or hear of a teacher who didn’t know the background information concerning a topic. Scenario 2 – She doesn’t get a job and begins working in other avenues. I have witnessed this too, and what is upsetting is knowing of their need for guidance, and dare I say mentoring, but the people (heaven help us again!) have a degree and know everything there is to teaching; therefore, those individuals become instruments of deconstruction rather than construction.
The other spectrum includes people who would really rather not deal with the public, but because there is no other way to make a living, they are forced to. Some of these people come across as being insensitive to the needs of the students, and quite frankly, arrogant. The students are merely receptacles who are there to receive the auspicious wisdom of the sages. These sages in turn are not seeking to impart wisdom in a usable manner, or even in a manner that all may obtain it; they merely expound upon their subject with utmost authority, trodding upon the backs of those who do not grasp it and exonerating those who do.
As I mentioned earlier, I have witnessed both extremes and my goal is not to diminish the role of teacher; I am one! In fact, teachers can be some of the greatest encouragers to students. There are many teachers in my past that I continue to look up to because of the influence they had and the inspiration they placed in my life. The bottom line is that there are those who really shouldn’t teach because they simply do not have the gifting, or at the very least, they should seriously be honest about their shortcomings and be open to instruction and guidance from others. And the ones who are only concerned with subject matter need to realize that students matter!