Please Quit Bashing Teachers

I have noticed that teacher bashing has become trendy. I expect that from neo-cons. They hate public employees; that is, unless the public employee is a soldier, police officer or prison guard (I think you have to have a gun to count).

What surprises me is the way the so-called progressive education community has taken up teacher-bashing as well. We are now called slave-drivers, prison guards and child-abusers. I know it looks like we're teaching fractions, but apparently our chief goal is to steal souls (yeah, that's right, we are now minions working for Satan).

The teacher-bashing went into hyper-drive after the Jeff Bliss video went viral. Notice how this doesn't seem to happen in other professions. When doctors are found acting unethically, people are quick to say, "This isn't true of most doctors" and point out the issue with this isolated incident. When a rogue official bets on games, the public does not turn against all referees. Go ahead and criticize a soldier. See what happens. You'll be called unpatriotic.

In the last six months, we have seen basketball coaches, doctors and soldiers being found doing far worse than sitting at a desk passing out a packet. In each case, people have responded by criticizing the individual while also saying loudly, "We realize that this isn't true of most people in this profession."

This might not seem like a big deal. However, the cumulative effect of this is a nagging sense that the public hates us. It's not something teachers think about all the time, but it certainly prevents teachers from being transparent and vulnerable about our own failures. Instead of paving the way toward humility, it sets us up for a false perfectionism.

I get it. Sometimes teachers engage in bad practices. I'm with you if you want to criticize packets or homework or lecturing for hours. But the first step toward change is starting with a dialogue. Bad teachers often care deeply about kids. They need paradigm shifts rather than shame.


Side Note: I find it interesting that Jeff Bliss never went personal in the video. He attacked her practices and vaguely alluded to the system. But the tweeters, bloggers and pundits have seized the viral rant as an opportunity to bash teachers as a whole rather than analyzing the system or criticizing the individual teacher. If the pundits want to learn from student voice, maybe they could take a cue from the video and criticize systems rather than teachers as a whole.



John Spencer is a teacher, author, speaker, and incessant doodler.
He is the co-author of Wendell the World's Worst Wizard
and the co-founder of Write About .

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