Jesus Was A Teacher
I really thought I’d start this column with the words “finally – back to school”. That’s until I read that permanent secretaries have been awarded an allowance increment back-dated to July. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with awarding them their dues – however the timing couldn’t have been worse. Talk about the government giving teachers, lectures and doctors the finger!
Oh well, buckle down for another week with your children at home or start looking for new schools for your kids, where the fees will be crazy and the standard in those school will also start falling and when the teachers in those “academies” start feeling the strain of extra students and a crazy work-load, then they too will start asking for more pay.
The parents who take their children to those schools will begin to notice a deterioration in standards and wonder why their cushy ‘academy” is beginning to look and feel like a public school, then students will start getting less attention and the standards all round will fall, and then…. It’s a vicious cycle. We need to get serious and fast.
There are people today who’d rather be matatu drivers, cab drivers, even exotic dancers (with all respect to those jobs) than be teachers. There is no shine to the profession or dignity whatsoever. We are all sending our children to school so they can get what they need from teachers and get it better than teachers, so that they may never end up as teachers.
Does this make any sense to you? We’re expecting that we will send our children off every morning, bright and early, to a place where the person we leave them with has such animosity, such low self esteem, such little dignity that even basic respect from the students is impossible. What exactly are we expecting to accomplish from this crazy set-up?
When I was growing up we went to school so we wouldn’t end up on the streets as hawkers, or touts, or hairdressers or house-girls. News flash – all these jobs pay a lot better than public school teachers in this country. Having seen the salaries some of these teachers are on – I’m wondering why no-one has started a school for governesses. I would gladly hire one who has a degree in education to be a part of my home as my children grow up.
As we face another week with children at home and cabinet and treasury oblivious to the plight of students, parents and teachers, I’d like to put forth three ideas as food for thought.
First: Google Eric Hanushek’s study on the value of teachers–and see if we can borrow a leaf from that study. But since I know you hate reading (yes you do) here’s what he argues in a nutshell. The study suggests that good teachers, even kindergarten teachers, increase their students’ earnings many years later.
The study found that an excellent teacher (one a standard deviation better than average, or better than 84 per cent of teachers) raises each student’s lifetime earnings by $20,000. If there are 20 students in the class, that is an extra $400,000 generated. (What conversion? You went to school. You do the math). A teacher better than 93 per cent of other teachers would add $640,000 to lifetime pay of a class of 20
That’s thought number one. Thought deux: Oprah's favourite teacher was her fourth grade teacher at Wharton Elementary in Nashville. On her show, she says "I ran home the first day of the fourth grade to tell my dad I had the best teacher anybody could ever have. Her name was Mrs Duncan," Oprah says. "I wanted to be a fourth grade teacher because of Mrs Duncan."
On the show where Oprah was re-united with her fourth grade teacher, she said to Mrs Duncan "I always, because of you, felt I could take on the world. You did exactly what teachers are supposed to do, they create a spark for learning that lives with you from then on," Oprah says. "It's why I have a talk show today."
Final thought - Jesus was a teacher. It only occurred to me the other day. When Jesus walked this earth, He was reffered to as Lord, Master, Rabbi, Teacher – the most common was teacher. Apparently, and I am yet to verify this – of the 90 times Jesus was addressed directly in the gospels, 60 times he was called Teacher. This was the word the multitudes used. This was how the disciples referred to him. Jesus himself used the term when he said, “You call me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am” (John 13:13). As Christians, when we refer to lessons in the gospel, we refer to the teachings of Jesus. He was master and the greatest teacher of all time – but he was a teacher.
I leave the rest of the debate in your hands, however know this – as we sit back and watch MPs and politicians and some really misguided souls piss on teachers and even term them as greedy we are simply making it more difficult to attract the kind of teachers our nation and our children deserve. When we meet and we speak about our kids, how many of us believe without a doubt that our children are special, that they deserve the best and the best we can give them is a really good education?
Okay, then isn’t it nuts that somehow we are not committed to attracting and maintaining the above-average teachers that our above-average children deserve? Oh, yes I know, we think our kids are really special, but apparently they don’t deserve special teachers – anything that can read, write and use chalk will do. Go figure.