Teachers are heroes. 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 what were the coveted foil stars when I was a kid – and considered the wide variety, and the cost of them. And it occurred to me that teachers were buying these things with their own money.
Most schools buy supplies from contracted vendors. 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 supplies from their own pocketbooks.
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 personal funds.
The realization was depressing. Here are these people who are paid substandard wages, and yet they still dig into their own paychecks to give their students 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. The sacrifices they make – for our children – should put taxpayers to shame that we do not pay them enough, that we do not give them the resources they need: the material resources, the financial resources, the social resources. Teachers are heroes.
Why do we not trust them more?
I came across an article about teachers who put their lives on the line during a disastrous 2013 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.”
Other than close relatives, who loves our children more than teachers do? Teachers are heroes, so why don’t we trust them more?
The Greatest Profession
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 will not progress. When the doctor dies there will be no more medicine, and the community will decline. Unless, of course, the doctor passes on what 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 be weaker, and will lose many people to disease and accident. 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. Why is it that so few people realize how essential teachers are? Teachers are heroes.
Why don’t we trust them more?
Gravesite of Enoch Brown, photograph by Clyde A. Laughlin, courtesy of York College of Pennsylvania.