Dear Teacher

July 17, 2017 § 6 Comments

Dear Teacher,

Every time you tell my daughter that her well-argued opinion is incorrect because it’s not on your marking memo, you teach her that her opinion only counts if it conforms.

Every time you tell my daughter she may not wear a legitimate part of her school uniform to be warm, because you believe she won’t look smart enough, you teach her that looks are more important than health or self-care.

Every time you hold my daughter to a standard you are not prepared to uphold yourself, you teach her that hypocrisy is part and parcel of being the stronger one in the power relationship: that there’s no need to lead by example.

Every time you punish the whole class for the misdemeanours of a few, you teach my daughter that justice is an illusion.

Every time you admonish my daughter for not being ‘ladylike’,  you reinforce the notion that she will by judged by her gender rather than her contribution to society.

Every time you expect my daughter to do a pile of school work in the holidays, but are quick to point out that you don’t want to do so, you teach her that double standards are permitted if they’re held by those in authority.

Every time you flounce out of the class in frustration at work not done, you teach my daughter that throwing a tantrum and walking away are appropriate ways to deal with conflict.

Every time you decide a test or assignment is ‘not for marks’ because the whole class underperformed, you teach her that results may be manipulated to create a particular image, and that it’s not okay to fail sometimes.

Every time you fail to enforce consequences for serious infringements like plagiarism, you silently condone it.

It’s not just about homework and assessments, or finishing the syllabus. It’s not just about passing and failing.

Every time you do any of these things, a classroom full of impressionable young minds is learning how to lead and be led, how to make one’s way in the world, how things really work.

Every parent knows that children learn far more what their parents do, than from what they say. Someday, dear teacher, your charges will forget how to factorise, and identify the passive voice; how to titrate a solution, or name a cloud formation.

But they won’t forget the way you behaved; the way you made them feel. That’s where the real learning happens.


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