I know several teachers personally; more than I can count with two hands. Thankfully due to good teachers in my past, I’m able to count them in my head–without using my fingers, toes or (non-existent) penis, as the old blackjack joke goes*.
I also personally know several doctors, attorneys, and other people who are what most folks consider “professionals”. Just like the doctors and lawyers and dentists the teachers have post-college education. They read journals, attend continuing-education seminars and stay up-to-date with changing theories and methods of their chosen course. This holds true not only for university professors and secondary teachers but also for those who teach in elementary grades.
A teacher I know called me last night to vent about the way her boss spoke to her. She was rightfully upset, because the boss (mis)directed his frustration with a roomful of pushy parents and tired children by yelling at her. This is not the first time that scenario has happened, and she’s not the only teacher to which it happens.
I suspect the problem is that most teachers are female. Well, that and pretty much everyone who has been to college knows at least one woman who used “elementary education” as code for “I’m here to get my MRS degree.” But somehow, somewhere the idea has become commonplace that those who teach young kids, especially Kindergarten, are no more than babysitters.
New laws (the abominable NCLB grist mill included) now require that most Kindergarten students be taught skills that are often beyond their mental development processes. In spite of what lawmakers think, little 5-year old brains can’t necessarily grasp some of the things their curriculum requires. Nevertheless it is up to the professionals to see that all students know the legally-mandated material. Those happy innocent years before First Grade are not just about making turkeys out of hand tracings and learning the alphabet song. And the folks whose job it is to do all this are people who are highly educated, put in long days and know their stuff.
They deserve the same respect accorded to other professionals.
*”He can’t count to 21 unless he’s naked.” (for those of you who didn’t know the punchline.)