The peculiar charms of the teacherly class

Have you gotten a medal for being a saint yet?

edited to explain that these comments and whatever follows was off-topic in the thread they were inhabiting.


it’s called teacher retirement.

i am now a recovering educator.


Showtime Thank You GIF by Desus & Mero


a few years ago i found myself in an odd set of circumstances. as i was checking out at a grocery store i had been in a conversation with the bagger and i explained to the puzzled cashier that i had taught that individual six years previously when she was in 6th grade. the cashier asked me if i was still teaching and then how long i had taught. my answer, at the time, was that yes i was still teaching and it was my 24th year to teach. at this point a man in his mid to late 30s standing behind me in line wearing desert camo fatigues and the rank insignia of a master sergeant lightly tapped me on my shoulder and with a kind of a lopsided grin said in a firm clear voice, “thank you for your service!”

i looked at for a moment and then we both started laughing. he shook my hand, though, and then said “you have no idea how long i’ve waited for a good excuse to use that line on someone else.” we chuckled a ;little more and then i turned back to the task of writing a check for my groceries. still, i’ve had worse days than to run across an nco with a sense of humor.


I am teacher-adjacent, as my mom taught HS English for 32 years and was union president and chief negotiator before she retired. I also worked as a sub and now teach after school cooking classes in grade schools in my city.
But I do feel I’ve graded my share of grammar tests and quizzes on Hamlet. And the kids I see these days do seem to be much freer with their attitude than I remember being and I was considered a loudmouth.


I wouldn’t have considered myself to be a bad kid or problem child growing up but i certainly was not kind to some teachers and had little self awareness of how obnoxious i could be. I would hate to deal with a young version of myself, but i do fondly remember certain teachers that made a huge impact on my life and teachers out there that put a lot of care and effort to make a difference are heroes. And that’s not hyperbole, i really think they deserve to be treated better by schools and parents.


Agreed. It’s really a shame how other professions are considered a higher priority in terms of resources, salary, and attention. I suspect it’s partly due to the women-dominated profession effect, the focus on training for work (instead of for the sake of learning in general), and oversight/success measures that complicate the process or enable scapegoating. We’ll see if the pandemic enlightened some folks who were clueless about the amount of work and skill involved.

I have two aunts who were career educators (from elementary school to high school). They are both retired, although the one who worked in special education still consults and works as a substitute teacher part-time. They shared so many stories with the rest of our family over the years - good, bad, and ugly. That really gave me an appreciation for teachers and the hard work that they do.

This sometimes makes me less empathetic with parents, though. My parents were my first teachers, so they taught me two things before I started kindergarten. The first was how to read. The second was that it was not the teacher’s job to teach me, but it was my job to learn. Those lessons served me well all of my life. What’s disturbing now is noticing so many adults who regard others - especially women and children - as vessels with no agency of their own. That means it’s someone else’s responsibility to educate and/or control them. The negative impact or costs of those views can be seen in educational institutions, private industry, and government. I wish there was a way to teach kids a different option - maybe we need modernized fables. :thinking:


The lack of respect and ability to make a livable wage, and the poor work/life balance were all aspects that scared me off ever considering teaching as a profession. Considering the sheer effort it takes to be a teacher it’s just not worth it unless someone has a passion for it.

You are absolutely right that parents need to be active participants when it comes to their kids’ education. My other issue is learning for the sake of learning, and the traditional methods of it. Academic methods of learning is like kryptonite to me, i just can’t give a crap but i’ve found that i really love to learn things in other ways that make sense to me. I did have a few teachers over the years that were able to leverage alternative methods to get us to give a shit about the class material, its probably not going to work for every class and every subject but i respected the teachers that gave students their own agency when it came to certain subjects.


Same here. I cringe when people say they’ll give ESL lessons to pay for travel, and when I ask if they have a plan their method is to just wing it. Online scams and tutoring middleman schemes have screwed up resources for kids who need help as well as the professionals who used to provide it.

Yeah, research into different learning styles wasn’t something applied in schools when I was a kid. Using what came naturally to me (eidetic memory and an ear for languages) just led to procrastination. G&T programs that relied on independent study made that worse. As an adult, I can use my talents in different ways that make learning easier, rather than focus on traditional methods that work against them.

I hope that teachers have more flexibility now, and students are able to use what works for them instead of feeling pigeonholed. At the same time, the lack of a common foundation worries me. After meeting people from other countries who’ve all learned similar facts despite living in different regions, maybe states should put their own spin on things after a baseline has been established. That might resolve a lot of issues like the ones described here about history textbooks and curricula.


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