After nearly fifteen years in the world of education, I realize daily how the teaching profession is a highly ungrateful one.
Teaching is a profession that is practiced at the front at all times, directly in the field. You have to have a tough skin to cope with this level of action. Working with young people who are growing in every way is an achievement, every day. Few of the professions can claim to make a difference in humans every day and require such a level of altruism and otherness. Few of the professions allow an individual to play a direct role in the evolution of humans so frequently and directly, especially at such a decisive moment in their lives.
Vocation and duty
Today, there is nothing relaxing about teaching, despite the fact that cynical critics of the profession like to remind us that we have two months off, a break and two weeks at Christmas. Anyway, I always like to invite these detractors to come and spend a single day in class with a teacher… To date, no one has taken up the challenge, except a few CEGEP or university students who want live a typical day before making the decision to take the plunge into the profession.
The teaching profession is located halfway between vocation and duty. The call to teaching is vocational. You obviously have to love young people and their share of differences. We must appreciate this diversity and value it and not try to smooth it out in order to normalize their course. This vocation is also reflected in the skills of a charismatic speaker in most cases. You have to want to be creative and curious and above all, accept to continue to learn throughout your career. Not all individuals have the humility to accept this necessity. At a time when all professionals define themselves by their expertise, some would certainly be insecure at the idea of having to be in continuous training… every day!
Teachers assume a social duty. They must educate our children and adolescents according to the social expectations manifested by a Training Program. They should not only be content with returning a material or passing it on, but rather to embody the values conveyed therein. The teachers work in a social laboratory, at the present time, but the result of their educational action takes place in the future. You must therefore have confidence in your means to accept not seeing the results of your efforts in the near future! A doctor who helps a sick person can do an annual follow-up. An engineer who builds a bridge will be able to contemplate his work throughout his life. But for the teacher, his work will be consumed by others later. It will remain, hopefully, a touch of appreciation which, unfortunately, in the majority of cases, will never be witnessed. Maybe we take our teachers for granted?
We must not kid ourselves; there is a significant amount of inconvenience and irritants that dot the course of teachers: too many groups, overcrowded classes, difficult, capricious, pampered, lazy students (…), heavy task, demanding and suffocating parents, endless school bureaucracy, lack of funding for schools, etc. Ultimately, our raison d’être, our vocation, rises far beyond the disappointments that can be associated with our employment.
In this week for teachers, I therefore hope that they will be proud of their profession. I wish them to accept the inconveniences of their job and to contextualize them within a larger framework which makes that in reality these inconveniences are details in the greatness of the teaching.
I wish them to show solidarity as well. All to their own extended immediate teaching community by showcasing their profession and workplace rather than denigrating them. Among teachers, unfortunately, it is clear that it is tendentious to criticize one’s own profession and the directions taken by school executives, the MELS or other bodies.
Everyone in the world of education wants the teaching profession to gain recognition in public opinion. How to inspire the respect of parents and their child if too many teachers are not in a position to respect their own professional status to speak about it in glowing terms? That is the question.
The ideal of Quebec society is forged by the education system and by the daily actions of those who work there. The social debt to these men and women is immeasurable and it is the only debt that is expected to grow positively.
Happy Teachers Week to everyone.