The blame game in education
Updated: May 20, 2012 8:09AM
Every year, a list of the “world’s toughest jobs” is compiled and released. Truckers in Alaska, crab fisherman in the deep sea and plenty of other gut-wrenching jobs top the list. But every year I scan the list and can’t help but think one is missing, the job of a teacher.
While most will never be threatened with falling into the freezing Atlantic, I would argue their jobs are just as difficult, and important, as any other, and they don’t get the respect they deserve.
It seems that recently, methods of teacher compensation have been called into question. I did a research paper on alternative ways to compensate teachers, from merit pay to bonuses based on improvements in test scores. While I’m no education expert, my own experiences coupled with my research for this paper made something clear; our expectations for teachers have morphed, and not for the better.
The job of a teacher is to facilitate learning, to provide an environment where information about a certain topic is provided so students can take that information, retain it and understand it. It is not the job of a teacher to force-feed information to students they will then be tested on two weeks later.
The job of a teacher is to help students learn relevant information that will benefit them in their future endeavors. It is not the job of a teacher to teach to standardized tests in order to get students into the college of their choice.
Lastly, it is the job of a teacher to help students learn, to be there to answer questions and address any confusion about the material. It is not the job of a teacher to make sure everyone gets A’s or another acceptable grade.
But it seems like society is pushing our education in the wrong direction, with so much emphasis on Scantron tests and scoring well on the ACT. We talk about pressure being added to the backs of America’s youth, but we forget about the burden we are also placing on our educators.
It’s easy to blame teachers for low math and science grades, and I’m sure there are a few teachers who aren’t doing their job. But over the last four years, I haven’t encountered one teacher who wasn’t willing to help students if they were willing to put in the time and effort necessary.
And that’s the real problem. Students aren’t putting in the effort. The debate could go on for days about who’s to blame for this, but one thing is clear to me; it’s not the fault of our teachers. As a student, I should be responsible for my grades and test scores. The minute I lose that sense of accountability, I also lose any motivation to do my best.
So rather than blame teachers when part of our education system fails us, I say we shift the responsibility back to the students who took the tests, sat in class every day, and will be affected by the results. We need to stop this apathetic culture of putting the blame for our own actions on other people, and we should start by giving more credit to the individuals who spend so much of their time and energy making sure our next generation succeeds.
Molly Hogan is a senior at Hinsdale South High School.