By Craig Funston
Teachers are once again in the news today, if you call this column is the news. Love’m or hate’m, if you have kids in a day of school of any sort, teachers are an integral part of your child’s (and your) life.
Consider the teachers’ perspective, for a moment. Would you like to spend all day, everyday, with your own kids? Some do, some don’t. That’s the question homeschooling parents are faced with daily, so you’ve got to hand it to them.
Multiply that one child of yours by twenty or thirty others, who are more or less like them. Then factor in their various learning styles, aptitudes and attitudes, the host of competing noises, and the need to be thorough in presenting, maintaining, marking, and surviving. Now do you understand why teachers need a break in the summer? Throw in the many PD days, statutory holidays, Christmas and Easter breaks, while you’re at it.
I can’t begin to tell you how many terrible teachers I had back the so-called Dark Ages. Mrs. H reeked like she’d been swimming in pool of cologne; Mr. Mc. smelled like he used cigars for deodorant; Mrs. G. never, ever cracked a smile; and Mr. C. was under the influence of you-know-what on a regular basis.
I swear to God the above statements are true.
The last two in particular should have been sent to the Happy Detention Room in the Sky long before I showed up in their class. It seemed that they hated their job, in general, and hated the kids, in particular. They are embodiment of the expression “I would like teaching if it wasn’t for the kids.”
Those are the ones every parent should be on the lookout for.
Long before I entered this profession I admired teachers, and by extension, the teaching profession. I still see many teachers as heroes. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I was going to be one, be it as a sub, a full-time classroom professional, or where I’m at now, teaching two days a week.
By teaching only two days a week, I don’t need the holidays that my colleagues at Cherry Coulee do. I don’t long for the end of June like others. However, for full-time teachers, there is so much subliminal strain that that accompanies teaching—far beyond the daily grind of teaching–it’s a wonder more teachers don’t lose their minds or quit earlier. Or turn to drinking.
So summer break is one thing to a parent, another thing to a kid, and yet another one to a teacher. One of the greatest things you as a parent could do is re-affirm every teacher you can who you feel deserves it. It needs to be genuine, of course, and I know they would deeply appreciate it.
If you can’t send a note, give them a gift card of sorts. Or some fresh preserved strawberry jam. I’d go for that; works ever time. Might even increase your child’s mark. (Maurice, I’m just kidding.)
Some day, if time and energy permits, try to track down at least one or two of those great teachers you had back ten, twenty, thirty years (forty years? my, you’re old—just like me!) ago. Send them a nice handwritten note of gratitude. Just make sure your grammar and spelling are correct.
I did try to find Mr. Redmond (referred to in last week’s column) many years ago, but to no avail. He was probably in his late fifties when he taught me back in 1972. According to the old math, that would make him roughly in his late nineties today. It would be a stretch to think he was still with us.
Out of honour to him, because he was my journalism teacher and really gave me the impetus for writing, I use the name “Redmond” as a pen name when writing my international bestsellers. Okay, not international; not even bestsellers. Actually, no books yet, but when I become rich and famous, he’ll be included there somewhere.
If last week’s column worked with the marriage metaphor, let’s consider a “veteran” metaphor. That would veteran in the sense of those who have gone before us and paved the way for us.
I know education has changed drastically over the past generation, what with the toys, the mindset, the homes, and the culture (used that line last week, I know, but it was good then, too). And the teaching profession has changed, too, in that time period, I’m sure you’d agree.
But that generation of teachers has moved on and we owe a lot to them—that’s my simple point.
I think there should be a special day every year honouring retired teachers. We do it for other fallen veterans, so why not teachers? I suggest sometime in June to signify the end of the year, another ten months behind the students, and ready for the next grade.
I would call it the Day of the Pedagogue. (Look that word up in your Funk and Wagnalls, just like your teacher told you back then.) And don’t be late for the date: you what teachers think about tardy students.
August 4: A Very Tight Hem Line
Not sure if anyone noticed, but I had a birthday yesterday. Apparently the family was going to buy a cake, but there was no truck big enough to transport it. So I found some some things under my son’s bed that looked like candles, so put them on the cake I baked.
It became an explosive situation: What you may have thought was a fireworks display coming from the next county over was actually the result of 61 Roman (or roamin’?) candles out of control.
So, I’m now 61, and I wish me a happy birthday—though probably more “birthday” than “happy
I find myself more and more reflective these days, especially since I turned the big 6-0 last year. Thirty years ago, 70 seemed so far away. However, at this point, 70 is now only within nine years. Some days I feel that old, er, mature; other days, I can scramble with a walker with the best of them.
As I meander through the garden of life, I’m not sure that I like what’s coming down the path. Right has become wrong, good has become evil, and tolerance has become intolerance. In short, so much of what used to be proper is now turned on its head. Is it just me, or do you feel the same way?
So much is changing at an exponential rate (translation: changes are coming quicker and quicker and quicker) that I get dizzy just trying to grasp it.
And it’s not even the changes that disturb me the most, questionable as they are: it’s the demands to agree with the way others “think” (to use the term loosely), or else be cast on to the heap of extraneous humanity.
It’s group think at its worse, if you will, with a greater emphasis on “group” than “think.”
These days there appears to be very little insight and investigation into the facts, ramifications, and ultimate outcome of certain trends. It’s power without pause, practice without principle.
And the kicker is simply this: If you don’t do as we do, we will place a label on you, then a stigma, followed by isolation.
You may recall another movement in the 30’s and 40’s, over in Germany, and the label was a yellow star of David. There are similarities and it’s frightening.
Has anyone really “thought” (there’s that word again) through the three biggies, namely, climate change, immunization, and same-sex issues? These three are the more pressing, more newsworthy, and more in-our-collective-faces that come to mind.
I can’t do much about people who believe any of these things, but I sure wish they would “think” them through. And at that point, at least allow others to differ with the mass opinion.
Let me tackle what appears to be the most harmless of them all, climate change, today. The others shall follow in subsequent weeks. Either way, when it comes to a careful examination of the issues, especially when there are political and economic restrictions at stake (yet without any really genuine historical, scientific evidence to back it up), we need to be careful.
In fact, I get alarmed with the mass hysteria that follows any resistance to these three. Any challenge, even in the form of caution or hesitation, is regarded as the wasted drivel of an uninformed conspiracist.
Really? I wonder where the drivel is, who is uninformed, and what is the real conspiracy?
The joke here in Alberta is that of course we believe in climate change—we just call them “seasons.” Read this slowly, friends: It’s cold and icy in the winter, green and fresh in the spring, hot and dry in the summer, and…okay, okay, you get the point.
I suggest that if anyone was really serious about climate change, then we all should look at the facts from the past, then analyze them historically and scientifically. I’m good with that. Facts never scare me.
It’s the analysis and application of the facts that do.
I don’t know if there is an agenda with the climate changers. That would make it a “hidden” agenda and that alarms me. I honestly wonder what it might be, only because the response to the issue seems so disproportionate. And with our climate change protagonists spewing out “evidence” of a world that’s apparently warming up, we are supposed to sit up and take heed. And woe betide the corporation or individual that doesn’t buckle under.
I was raised to think before I spoke. Don’t always do it, of course, but it saves me a lot of grief when I do. I suggest that others too think before they speak (or threaten or demand or demonstrate).
We don’t need any unnecessary heat in this already hot topic.