Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fun myths about teachers and teaching

"Those who can't do, teach. Those who can't teach, teach gym."
Apparently Woody Allen's twist on a George Bernard Shaw quote popularized the idea of "those who can't do, teach". On the one hand, I find it a bit insulting since I have spent the better part of my adult life teaching, but I can't help smiling at the sentiment. Michael and I watched "School of Rock" on Friday night, and Jack Black's character repeats this phrase to a table full of teachers, a scene that I always find hysterical. Despite the fact that I am, to a slight degree, "the man" at the school where I work, I'd like to imagine that I'm Jack Black - or his character - inspiring students to stick it to the man, to rebel, to ROCK! The closest that I come to being that type of a character is to cancel homework for a night.
On a different yet related note, I did enjoy Nicholas Kristof's recent article in the NYTimes in which he advocates higher pay for teachers. Not that this will happen with budget cuts and all that fun stuff, and I can't complain since I am not a public employee (working at an independent school and all that). Still, one of the details that he throws out is this: In 1970, in New York City, a newly minted teacher at a public school earned about $2,000 less in salary than a starting lawyer at a prominent law firm. These days the lawyer takes home, including bonus, $115,000 more than the teacher, the McKinsey study found.
Kind of depressing.
In the meantime, I will be putting on my fancy dress clothes this weekend to hobnob with parents and local dignitaries, people who probably make the equivalent of my salary in a week. Thank goodness there will be free alcohol, as I plan to imbibe. Not that the free-flowing alcohol is a valid reason to work at a certain institution, but it certainly does help at times.
I know, I know... I'm supposed to vouch for my passion for 'the children', and I do happen to teach some pretty great kids, but I am not an altruistic do-gooder.
As for some of the myths about teachers and teaching:
- We have TONS of time off! Okay, we do, but we also don't. For instance, I absolutely consider the fancy-schmancy party to be work. I will have to talk to parents about their children whom I teach. That = work.
- Speaking of students, we never trash-talk about our students. Never.
- Nor do we have favorites. Not at all.
- Students ALWAYS learn when they are having fun.
- Anyone can teach. (This one happens to be my favorite)
On this note, I'm so inspired to finish the week off tomorrow. Hooray!

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