“Just a teacher”, no such thing

McMurray Musings Connects

By THERESA WELLS, Connect Contributor

This column isn’t about rehashing the recent federal election results. It isn’t about the way things took dark and disturbing turns, as the election dragged (and I mean DRAGGED) on for what seemed an eternity; a time during which people of differing political stripes turned on each with a ferocity I found deeply troubling.

This column is actually about how some chose to attack our newly-elected Prime Minister designate based on the fact that he previously held a job they apparently held in very low esteem: teaching.

Prior to his political career, Justin Trudeau worked as a teacher in British Columbia, teaching subjects as varied as law, English, drama and physical education. From all reports, his students were quite taken with the individual who came into their classrooms to share the educational curriculum with them, and his employers remember him as enthusiastic and well-liked.

“… his role as a teacher was used as a weapon against him, as if being a teacher was somehow a black mark on his resume.”

During the recent federal campaign; however, his role as a teacher was used as a weapon against him, as if being a teacher was somehow a black mark on his resume. Even worse, some claimed, was that he was a “drama teacher”, implying that this sort of educator was somehow less important or valued or educated or skilled than any other teacher. These attacks were – in my mind – reprehensible as what they showed was that those launching the attacks hold teachers in such low regard that they consider someone who has worked as one to be unsuitable to hold elected office.

My daughter is now sixteen. During the course of her educational career, I have spent a good deal of time with her teachers, as well as many others through my service on various parent council organizations.

During that time what I learned was that teaching, far from being on the bottom of the totem pole of employment, should instead rank quite near the top as the services they provide are nothing short of remarkable. These individuals spend incredible amounts of time with our children and young adults, and their ability to share their knowledge is a gift we should honour and treasure, not trash and diminish.

“That teachers work hard should never be doubted, as all one has to do is ask a teacher about the time they spend making lesson plans, marking assignments and volunteering to organize extra-curricular activities for their students.”

That teachers work hard should never be doubted, as all one has to do is ask a teacher about the time they spend making lesson plans, marking assignments and volunteering to organize extra-curricular activities for their students.

While English teachers help students develop the basics of reading and writing, one hopes they help them to learn a love of literature, while drama teachers allow our youth to explore their creative sides and connect with the parts of themselves mathematics may not touch.

Teachers should not be viewed along some sliding scale based on what they teach, but valued on the simple fact that they have the ability to guide our youth into becoming not just students, but global citizens with an interest in everything from books to robotics, theatre to visual arts, politics to physical fitness.

Much of the behaviour we witnessed during the recent campaign was troubling, but perhaps none more so than this attitude that somehow teaching was a lowly profession, one not worthy of note. The funny thing is that some of the very brightest people I have ever encountered are teachers, and in addition to their intelligence they have the ability to connect with children and young adults in a way that opens minds and inspires them to learn.

Seeing others imply that anyone who once was a teacher could not and should not be considered for elected office, including the highest office in our land, was not only startling but angering in the way it dismissed some of the very people who hold the future of this country in their hands, because if you think our real future lies with politicians, think again, as it lies with the teachers who are teaching them even now, long before they hold office.

Of all the low points of this election, perhaps this was the lowest. The memes and posts that suggested being a teacher was too lowly a position for one who would eventually run the country were mean-spirited at best, and at worst were dismissive of an entire profession on which we rely, not just for politicians but for doctors, engineers, lawyers, nurses, mechanics and every other job you can name.

There is no such thing as “just a teacher”, and those who undervalue their importance should be genuinely ashamed of themselves for doing so – because we could likely survive without politicians, but without teachers? That’s a world in which I would not want to live.

– Connect Weekly –