School: On Assumptions about Teaching and Teachers

I’m very open about the fact that I have always been interested in teaching, facilitating, growth, and learning. I think that everyone is a teacher, learner, and facilitator all of the time.

I also think that standardized education, which I discussed a few weeks ago in “School: Is it the only way to learn?”, can both help and problematize ideas about learning.

Allow me to throw a wrench into my already complicated relationship with education.

I also think there is a huge gap between what many North American or British people THINK a teacher does and what they REALLY do. My older sister worked as a teacher for four years, and I have many peers, friends, family members, and acquaintances who work in state or private schools or language schools.

Many people think that teachers do little work, get a great salary, have great benefits, and enjoy a long summer break.

I’m here to tell you that, frankly and frequently, that isn’t really true.

“Those who can’t DO, TEACH!” the saying goes.

Well, I’m here to call that out.

Being a teacher is hard work! The hours are usually long, the pay is frequently lower than most think it is, and the extracurricular work like marking, coaching teams, meeting students, and giving feedback is unpaid. I sometimes feel that the effort I put into teaching English as a Second Language is not recognized or appreciated, and I know many state, private, and language school teachers who feel the same.

In many language schools across the world, students pay 30-70 dollars/pounds/euros for a single lesson with a native English speaker, and the teacher usually receives half of that or less, from 15-30, IF THEY ARE LUCKY. Many teachers such as myself receive a monthly pay, sometimes with accommodation included, but hours are frequently changing or there is a great deal of unpaid work that must be completed outside of class time and thus is unpaid.

In many occupations, if you were asked to take work home with you and consistently volunteer your time doing unpaid labour, people would sneer and scoff at the idea… especially if you were expected to spend the two/three months “holiday” outside of your workplace preparing for the next year. News flash: the summer holiday isn’t really a holiday… the majority of it is spent in meetings, preparing curriculum and lessons, running summer schools or preparing for the next year of extracurriculars… or any combination of the aforementioned duties that teachers do.

So why is it expected of teachers… and then usually unappreciated or ignored anyways?

Why is there this idea that teachers do nothing? Where did that come from?

Just some food for thought.

What do you think? Are there a lot of misconceptions and preconceived notions about teachers and teaching? Drop me a line below, I’d like to hear your thoughts.

If this blog post made you think a bit or interested you, check out “School: Is it the only way to learn?”, “Scribbling: Reflecting on and Editing my own Writing” or “Scribbling: Why write? Why paint? Why create?”.

Thanks for coming by, and have a great day!


4 thoughts on “School: On Assumptions about Teaching and Teachers

  1. I totally agree with this – I often think that teachers are underpaid and under-appreciated. Especially since they are educating the next generation – duh 🙂 Thanks for posting Helen! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for commenting! 🙂 Teachers definitely contribute more to society at large than CEOs! ^_^ I have never understood why teachers are scapegoated so much? The main complaint I hear is that teachers have a “long summer holiday”, which isn’t really true. Many teachers who work internationally or in systems outside the western state schooling system don’t have any holiday… while teachers who DO work in state schools in North America and Britain don’t REALLY get a holiday because mot of it is spent working! In meetings, preparing for the next year, working on curriculum, meeting new students and colleagues… etc. That isn’t a holiday!
      I guess we just have to work on interrogating WHERE those ideas come from, WHY they are distracting us from the reality and WHO they benefit?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have no idea – It’s a weird misunderstanding that so many people believe! Teachers are great, and they should receive respect – many people who think teaching is easy wouldn’t last a day! 🙂


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