Consolations

Teaching these days is a poor choice of occupation. In some ways.

 

Stagnant or declining wages. Benefits steadily whittled away. Reluctant, even resistant, sometimes hostile students. Factory-like schools. Bean counters with the power to make a teacher’s life miserable. Work conditions that would fill a Norma Rae with despair. Insanely bureaucratic requirements designed to prop up the least capable and committed teachers. For the K-12 faculty, irate and uninterested parents. For instructors at all levels, a sense that the public is mostly unsympathetic, with many people holding the ridiculous view that teachers have cushy, union-protected jobs with ample time off, and that professors hardly work at all.

 

Or let the always excellent Key and Peele make the same point with wry humor:

 

 

There are, of course, consolations. All teachers get thoughtful notes like the one below, which I found in my inbox this morning. It’s one of the intangible rewards of teaching, which help to ward off discouragement and bitterness:

 

Dr. Abbot,

 

Thank you so much for your support and recommendation for my Fulbright application. Your classes gave me a curiosity for learning that will drive me, I know, in my late formal education and early career.

 

I have finally submitted my application and produced work I am truly very proud of. I also attached both essays if you have time and would like to read them. I would like you to know how much I appreciate your support and mentorship during my college career. You have inspired me to discover what I am truly interested in.

 

But it’s a problem, too, this willingness of teachers, for the sake of their profession and their students, to pay for materials out of their own pockets, to jump through hoop after hoop, to grin and bear it. And it’s so, so regrettable (to put it mildly) that many administrators and other decision-makers, knowing full well that teachers will do almost anything to help their students, take full advantage of that fact.

 

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