At a car dealership recently, a salesman admitted to me that when he sees teachers coming, “he runs”. As a waitress, a colleague once stiffed, “bloody teachers never tip”.
We have long been regarded as stingy. And most sales people that we have to deal with dislike our supposed thriftiness. So what I’m wondering is–where does it come from? Is it just a stereotype of a poor few or is there a reason behind this (over?) statement?
And while we’re attempting to mythbust, is it also true that teachers only ever talk about teaching?
I think all of these issues are related and I think there is only really one solution.
Teachers are in the service profession. We are not a business. But we don’t get tips, don’t get to charge per hour and largely feel underpaid (and undervalued) in our work.
Schools are a microcosm of young (often immature, or at least inexperienced in the ways of the business world) minds, administrators (former teachers on a stringent budget) and other teachers.
How is the value of teaching recognised?
Teachers know that we are valued by our parents, colleagues and our students through our emotional connections with each that are priceless. Most teachers lead a very enriched life by committing themselves to celebrating this; still, in a capitalistic driven economy there is no price alottment for the value of our service and as we work away on weekends, after business hours during the week, and on our holidays, we all realise a large portion of our job is voluntary.
Non-teaching people have long criticised “how many holidays you get” as a teacher. They scoff at our pay-check whimpering and thriftiness (and most of these people probably hated school and never had a teacher they loved–a very different reality to most teachers). When we put our families on strict budgets in the community purchasing something, it is easy to get a little jaded.
Teachers often talk about how busy they are, and what they are doing because they are people, and people like to feel like they are celebrated. We expect to make money for work we do because we are a rewards-driven society. Where is this forum for teachers? Outside of our social life, it doesn’t exist for most teachers. Thus you get the self-promoter person who speaks out of pride to anyone who will listen and and out of defence to those who may be quick to criticise.
At some point, the we realise that we can’t sustain our current full-time volunteer, part-time paid positions and want to move forward in our career. How does a teacher do that? A select few go on to be administration–thereby giving up the very aspect of the job they love: working with students.
When it comes to asking for more money: teachers fall down in a heap of exhaustion (like most people) as soon as they get a holiday. Where is the energy or time to “fight the good fight” against the rest of the people who plan educational budgets. Eventually, you learn to either put up or shut up. Some of us leave the profession.
My ‘Food for Thought’ on the Value of Service:
I think the people who are the most thrifty as the most skeptical, and some might argue become unappreciative of the services provided by other communities becuase maybe because our own service is undervalued, we do not know how to value and appreciate the services of others? After all, the only way you learn something is to be taught it (from some source).
But, I’m not saying it’s right. The bottom line is teacher pay and value is a societal problem because schools and teachers exist because of a societal value. That means that service value is also a societal problem. In the business world, people are taught to justify their services. As critiquers of human work, teachers learn to be sceptical of all things.
Of course, appreciation is something we can all never show enough of and learning to show gratitude is also a really important lesson.