Who’d want to be a teacher? Far from being seen as valued professionals, teachers are portrayed as overworked, under-appreciated and working in a context of out-of-control children and angry parents. Professor Brigid Daniel, Queen Margaret University writes in The Scotsman.
Charged with fixing all the social problems the rest of us have been unable to fix; wrestling with the gap between a visionary curriculum and the realities of bureaucratic educational structures; being expected to promote the wellbeing of all children in their classes whilst protecting those at risk; and battling the pernicious and sexualising influence of social media – are all major tasks.
It is clear that many of those already teaching and leading our schools are not jaded and exhausted – they are passionate about what they do and enthusiastic about the difference they can make for individual children and society.
Young people are motivated to study education at university because of their own positive experiences of teachers. Many people with established careers in other fields decide to turn to teaching because they want to give something back to society.
As a social worker, many years ago, I worked with children for whom school and their teachers were vital lifelines – for some I would even say lifesavers.
My subsequent research on children’s resilience in the face of adversity confirmed the powerful force for good that teachers provide. We found that schools could be a haven for children, that the process of learning could help with developing a sense of competence and, most importantly, that teachers and other staff in schools offered a dependable adult presence.
Of course, the research also shows the damage that bad school experiences can have, especially for young people living with poverty and disadvantage and who lack other resources to support their development. So, whilst we do need to be careful about placing too many expectations on teachers to fix all of society’s structural problems of inequality, we should also not underestimate what they can achieve, especially if they are connected into the local community and see parents as partners in the process of learning. Our policies for children and young people in Scotland provide a good framework.
Read the full article Teachers are in a class of their own.
Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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