“Greater love hath no man than this…” Teachers are heroes. They dedicate, and even give their lives for their students. So why don’t we trust them more?
I was in an office supply store the other day, looking at educational products. I stood in front of the stickers – the modern version of the coveted foil stars from my elementary school days – and I considered the wide variety, and the cost of them. And I was struck by a revelation.
Teachers are buying these things with their own money. Most schools purchases are handled by contracted vendors, they are not purchased from a local store. So unless a teacher has some PTA money, she pays for supplies like these out of her purse. Which is what I have seen and heard from teachers for years, that they often buy these supplies from their own salaries.
Then I looked around, and realized that the section I was standing in would not be there if it were not profitable. And it wouldn’t be profitable without a lot of teachers buying products for their classes, and their students, from their own wallets.
The realization was depressing. Here are these people who are paid substandard wages, and yet they still dig into their own paychecks to give our children a better education.
And a better life.
For the same reasons, it is also humbling. The dedication of good teachers, after all the bureaucratic crap, the rude students, the disinterested parents, the meddling legislators, should embarrass the rest of us. Teachers are heroes. The sacrifices they make – for our children – should put taxpayers to shame. We do not pay them enough. And we do not provide them with the resources they need: material resources, financial resources, social resources, and political resources. Teachers are heroes.
Why do we not trust them more?
I came across an article about the teachers who put their lives on the line during a disastrous Oklahoma tornado. But then I realized that teachers put their bodies in harm’s way whenever there is danger to their students. We have seen teachers pay the ultimate price at Sandy Hook, Columbine, and a long, long list of others, all the way back to the Enoch Brown School Massacre of 1764. “Greater love hath no man than this, than he lay down his life for his friends.”
Or that she lay down her life for her students.
Other than close relatives, who loves our children more than their teachers do?
Teachers are heroes. So why don’t we trust them more?
Teachers are Heroes
I will tell you a secret: teachers are more important than doctors. And I should know.
I’m a doctor.
If that comment sounds ridiculous, consider an isolated community with a doctor, but no teacher. The community cannot prosper. There will be no education, and no progress. And when the doctor dies, there will also be no more medicine. Unless, of course, the doctor passes on what he knows.
Unless the doctor becomes a teacher.
Then consider a community with a gifted teacher, but no doctor. In the short run, the community will struggle, and some people will even die from disease and accidents. But only in the short run. Because with time, the community will produce doctors. And engineers, and scientists, and statesmen, and artists.
And yet more teachers.
And a better world.
The Greatest Profession
Education is the greatest profession. It builds all of the other professions, and in so doing, it builds our world.
I don’t care what your problem is, crime, unemployment, a faltering economy, the decay of the family, or just plain old stupidity. It doesn’t matter. Whatever the problem is, there is only one solution.
And if there is a problem that education won’t solve, the only way we will find it is… through education.
Yes, our schools are full of problems. One of the largest problems, and perhaps the problem that enables all the others, is that we no longer recognize teachers as professionals. Parents and administrators and school boards and legislators constantly meddle in the efforts of our teachers, they increase their work load, they limit their autonomy to tailor classes to the students’ needs, and they typically do this without ever listening to teacher one about what education is really like.
The Real Cost of Education
But even with all of the problems, our schools are better than any existing alternative. It’s like the bumper sticker says, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” We need schools. We need teachers.
And most of all, we need good teachers, teachers who are respected as professionals, teachers who are protected and defended as they go about their work.
Just as they protect and defend our children when the monster tears down the doors.
Why is it that so few people realize how essential teachers are? Teachers are heroes. Among the professions, there is no greater love.
Why don’t we trust them more?
Sylvia Muñoz, Child Development Center pre-school teacher, assists Brooke Correa in decorating a Cardboard Kid cut-out for Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month. March 30, 2017, at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. Cardboard Kid cut-outs, representing victims of child abuse were displayed throughout JBSA during the month of April, 2017. U.S. Air Force photo by Joel Martinez, courtesy of the U.S. Military/Joint Base San Antonio.
Gravesite of Enoch Brown, photograph by Clyde A. Laughlin, courtesy of York College of Pennsylvania.