Last week, I was standing in a very long line at a grocery store listening to a Black woman in her mid to late thirties talking to her son on a cell phone. I gathered from her end of the conversation that her son was in trouble at school because he had disrespected his teacher – a woman. In addition, this was not the first time he had done so, and his mother and non-custodial father had promised him a punishment if he acted out again.
She talked at him right up until her turn at the register and even during, and the call ended half way through her check out with her saying that she would not be punishing him “this time”, and that his father would also be calling him to “have a talk” with him after he got off work. I remember thinking, “Wow! I would not want to be this kid’s teacher.” AND, unless he went to one of those year-round private schools, this kid was in Summer school. He should have been punished for that alone.
I couldn’t help but look at the situation from the standpoint of the teacher, a woman, who was trying to educate someone else’s child… Can you imagine having a student who disrespects you more than once, the parents promise that they will handle things, then don’t? If you are a female teacher at a public school, and have been around for a while, you have probably had this experience.
I should admit right now that I am in my mid twenties and my husband and I do not yet have children, BUT I was raised well and understand how children think, as I was one once. I was also privy to the thought process of children with parents like the woman in front of me. I had friends, as a young child, who were raised by wishy-washy parents. I drifted away from most of them as I got older, because of who they were becoming, but they definitely helped me appreciate my own strict upbringing.
Whatever my parents faults, they were consistent. If they said the punishment for x would be y, it was always y. Not a, not b, not c, but y. I could count on it. I could trust that what they told me was true. I couldn’t stay pissed at them when I was punished, because they had told me beforehand what they expected of me and what the punishment would be if I were disobedient. There were no surprises on their end, so there was no righteous indignation on mine. They were even harder on my brother, because he was older and male. He was expected to set a good example for me to follow, and he did.
That sort of parenting seems to be rare, and not just these days. I had friends whose parents punished them severely, sometimes violently, for little things, then let big things go without any punishment at all. One friend in particular neither trusted nor respected either of her parents as a result of this haphazard parenting, and left home when she was 16. My own mother attempted to talk to this friend’s mom less than two months before she ran away, but was told (politely) to mind her own business.
My point is, it is difficult (at best) to teach children who were not taught discipline and consistency at home. And only a fool would expect a teacher, who only has access to a child (and dozens of others at the same time) for a few hours a day, or less, to be able to teach the material required by the school board AND parent other people’s children; yet this is exactly what some lazy, shiftless parents feels should take place in the classroom. After all, instilling discipline and morality is a tough a job. Why should they have to do it? Isn’t that what school teachers are for?
And don’t get me started on subject of physical abuse against teachers, by both delinquent students and their worthless parents. There have been several case (that made the news) of teachers who’ve defended themselves against violent students, only to end up in jail for “assaulting” their under-aged attackers. In my opinion, it’s absolutely ridiculous!
For these reasons (and a few others), I would NEVER choose teaching as a profession. No amount of scholarship money, ‘Teachers Rock’ promotions, or bended knee begging could convince me to change my mind. In fact, what really brought on this rant was thinking about the ‘Teachers Rock’ concert that aired a few nights ago. I’m sure Wal-Mart and Nokia will make a pretty penny because of their sponsorship. The upcoming movie “Won’t Back Down”, starring Viola Davis, will probably gain a wider audience because of the promotion. And both the movie and concert, which celebrated teachers, may persuade quite a few impressionable, well-meaning young people to devote their professional lives to teaching…. I just pray that none of them are Black girls. Teaching is an absolutely thankless profession for Black women.
So, who should teach the children? Anyone else. Because anyone else is far less likely to be scapegoated and abused by irresponsible parents and insolent students to the same degree that Black woman are. Seriously ladies, just say NO to teaching other people’s children. You’ll earn more money, and get more appreciation and respect elsewhere.