Uncommon Sense

August 17, 2022

Teaching is Easy, Anyone Can Do It

Filed under: Education,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 10:12 am
Tags: , , ,

I need to tell you a story to refute the nonsense of this title. I was for almost 40 years a college professor teaching chemistry to undergrads. I had BS and MS degrees from accredited universities, a teaching credential, etc.

My niece was a primary school teacher, then teaching a combined Grade 1-2 class of middle class California kids. In conversation one day, she invited me to come to her classroom and do a “special presentation” about what chemistry was all about for her class. I agreed wholeheartedly. So, since I had a 20 minute time slot of class time to fill, I prepared carefully, loading up on visual aides, demonstrations, etc. Then, knowing that things don’t always go as planned, I prepared another 20 minutes worth, and upon further thought, a third 20 minutes worth. That should be enough, I thought.

So, I dressed in a white lab coat, goggles, the entire chemical uniform, and carried my box of demonstrations into my niece’s classroom. The children were very responsive to her directions and were soon “gathered round” a table and I was introduced. Then, and this could have been a cartoon, whoosh, I went through the first 20 minutes worth of material, then the second, and the third, and even answered questions and, a grand total of 16 minutes had elapsed.

And I was exhausted.

From that point onward I have advocated for turning the teacher’s salary pyramid upside down. Instead of primary school teachers being paid the least and college professors the most, I argued that primary school teachers should get paid the most and college professors the least.

This was based upon the difficulty of the job.

Grade school teachers have to teach every student they are sent. College professors teach adults and, if a student doesn’t like the course or the teacher, they can withdraw from the course. If a student was disruptive, we could withdraw them from our classes. We could send adults away to learn. and failure was an option. If anyone thinks failure is an option in primary school, I suspect they have never endured a parent-teacher conference in which the parent was really pissed off.

Teaching is not easy. Not just anyone can do it, and especially not with either no training or a five week training course. Anyone who advocates otherwise is trying to tear apart the public school system for reasons that, I believe, have nothing to do with the quality of the education the kids are receiving, but definitely something to do with either politics or profit.

I still have not gotten a coherent question from the “let’s use business methods folks” as to how extracting profits from a school budget improves the quality of the product?

I would love to hear anyone answer this question.

8 Comments »

  1. Just curious … did you carry a gun with you to that class demonstration in case some desperado decided to enter the classroom with their AR-15? 😈

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Nan — August 17, 2022 @ 11:32 am | Reply

    • LOL! The thought never entered my mind, not one day in those almost 40 years. School shootings hadn’t become a right of passage for far-right nutjobs yet.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 17, 2022 @ 11:35 am | Reply

  2. I can fully attest to the fact that not everyone can be a teacher and that teaching is not easy. I am one of those nutcases who thought she could go to Viet Nam and teach English. I have no degree in anything whatsoever but I did take a TEFL course online in preparation, thinking that would do the trick. I was ‘going on an adventure.’ Well, goody for me.
    I remember applying for one job in particular, teaching a bunch of 3 or 4 year olds. I have three kids of my own (adults now) so figured it would be easy. I ended up juggling, literally juggling, in front of these kids. I had no idea what to do with them. I did not get that job.
    Later, I did get a job for a struggling school in a province two hours from Ha Noi. I’m certain they were just desperate for anyone who could speak English (most people want to teach in the big cities) so they hired me. It was like English Teaching Boot Camp for me. Very difficult. No idea how to teach other than what I could find online. No idea how to even get these kids’ attention. After fulfilling my three month contract, I was beginning to get a clue and I’m happy to say that the kids, at least, liked me. I did my best. I fully did my best. I wanted to do right by these kids (mostly young teenagers).
    I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I loved Viet Nam. But, boy, teaching ain’t easy.

    Liked by 3 people

    Comment by ziggyseamstress — August 17, 2022 @ 12:14 pm | Reply

  3. Right on- teaching youngsters is hard work and takes a depth of passion for the kids. In Florida I volunteer 4-5 days/wk in a large (900 kids) elementary school.
    To me the best teachers “adopt” each kid in the class, calling them, “my classroom.. my kids” etc. That was my favorite teacher- an energetic and compassionate professional. I was simply ‘a warm body’ to help funnel attention. 2 hours in her kindergarten left my head spinning, so I’d stagger off to the 2nd graders and regroup.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Arnold — August 17, 2022 @ 2:48 pm | Reply

  4. I’ve run into the idea that teaching is easy as well and I have no idea where that nonsense comes from. Anyone who thinks that has never spent a day in a classroom. I dealt with drunk students (fortunately only a couple of incidents), I had one student who just sat there staring at his desk. Wouldn’t talk, wouldn’t look up, wouldn’t respond to questions, nothing. No, he wasn’t disabled, there was absolutely nothing wrong with him except bad attitude. He didn’t like the class, didn’t want to be there, and therefore was not going to cooperate. At all. Students were expected to do community service projects. I called the mother of one of my students to ask if she would be willing to help with some event. She hung up on me and I never saw her or her daughter again. She pulled her out of the class. Why? I have no idea.

    Still, when everything works, it’s worth it. But easy?

    Like

    Comment by grouchyfarmer — August 17, 2022 @ 10:36 pm | Reply

    • The idea comes from people trying to undermine the public school system (for fun and profit). Instead of hiring expensive, fully qualified, and experienced teachers, they hire just any old person off of the street or recent college graduates. Anyone who doesn’t demand higher salaries.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 18, 2022 @ 10:19 am | Reply

  5. Reblogged this on Becoming is Superior to Being and commented:
    I was a higher education teacher, and occasionally, I would be asked to be a guest presenter in a public school class. Now retired, I teach elementary school children about nature in Sabino Canyon. Ditto to Steve! — kenne

    Like

    Comment by kenneturner — August 18, 2022 @ 12:40 pm | Reply

  6. Completely agree! I briefly taught 7-12 social studies before going on to graduate school, then law school. I then taught as an adjunct to a university junior through graduate level while practicing law on behalf of the university. I was an Associate professor of law in the School of Social Work and colleges of Business, Education and Medicine. Lawyering full-time and teaching college part-time was easier than teaching grades 7-12.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by lannarino2012 — August 18, 2022 @ 2:43 pm | Reply


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