It can sometimes sound like we hate teachers, or hate the public school, or hate the system, etc.  But its not true.  We do not hate any of those.  We do think the system is broken, and public schools in general do not do a good job of teaching kids, and that most teachers want a better system, and want kids to do well, and think they are doing the best job possible and training the kids in our society, and frankly, many are.

Teaching is a tough and important career.  It is a career that has its challenges, but is also rather rewarding.  You do get the opportunity to influence children for the better, and for that it should be praised.

So imagine my delight when I stumbled upon a lady sitting at the mall tonight in the food court with this sign propped up by a paperback novel.

(Sign says, I am a teacher.  This is how I spend my evenings. Please ask me what I am doing.)
I had to ask.  "What are you doing?
"I'm reading this book, in the evening." was her reply.
"See some people do not realize what we have to do to keep up."
"Uh-huh," a little lost for words. Fortunately, she was not.
"I'm reading this book because, well, actually I'm in Naugatuck, so I am already done, but I will likely teach this book next year, so I am reading it now to prepare."
"So, you're just raising awareness...?" was all I could come up with.
"Yea! Raising awareness."
"...that its a tough job, teaching."

At this point I walked away, got about 15 feet, and did an about face.  I asked if I could take a picture of her sign and that I would write a blog post.  She seemed to not know what that was, but said something about helping get the word out.  Here is my getting the word out.

Teaching is hard.  So is painting, or hanging drywall, or selling used cars, or being a real estate agent, or just about any other job one can possibly have.  Some jobs are harder than others.  Mostly those revolve around jobs you have to think.  Like, say, teaching.  How stupidly arrogant of someone to sit in the mall asking people to have pity on her because her job asks her to do prep work at night, while at the same time, openly admitting that she is already on break, and preping for next years courses.

Are you kidding me?  You want me to feel sorry for you because you have a salaried position that pays well in CT, gives you government benefits, has extended time off during breaks, a ridiculously pro-teacher union with negotiated salary increases every year, and a 20 year and your done retirement plan, but expects you to read in the evening?  Really?

I so badly wanted to go home, make my own sign.  it should read:
"I am a father, an engineer full time, and a freelance software developer.  This is how I spend my evenings.  Please ask me what I am doing." I'll sit there with my laptop open, and I'll reply with, not spending time with my kids because I have to hold multiple jobs to pay the bills because our horrific economy has made it so most private industry has not been able to do salary increases in 3 years even though gas and milk are both over $4/gallon.

Or, perhaps I could get the 45 year old "retired" teacher to sit at the mall in the middle of the afternoon with his own sign.  "I am a retired teacher.  This is how I spend all day.  Please ask me what I am doing."  When asked, he can respond with, "living high off the taxpayers money for the next 40-50 years."

The worst part is we have raised a bunch of pansies who would feel bad for this woman simply because she is a teacher.  Noone else feels sympathy for any other person in any other career.  Perhaps the military, which is actually tough being away from your family and shoved in a hell hole of another country, or worse, a Navy vessel. Perhaps even a policeman who deserves a bit of sympathy for the crap they put up with.  But I have never seen a soldier or a cop sitting in the mall asking people to feel sorry for them.  Teachers have a tough job.  So do I.  So do a lot of Americans, and quite frankly, teachers have it better than most of us.

If you do not like the career you are in, go change it, or suck it up and be grateful for the job you have.  Either way, do not be so self-absorbed as to think it is okay to go to the mall with a sign and throw yourself a pity party.

I need to go back to writing code now.  Feel sorry for me.


Wendy said…
Dwayne, I love your post! I, too, have often thought that teachers get waaaaay too much sympathy. Yes, it's hard, but as you said, so is just about any other job. It's funny, though... When I first began reading what you wrote, I thought you were going to be sympathetic to the teacher's "plight". I was so relieved to read further and realize that you weren't at all sympathetic! LOL

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