Thursday, September 8, 2011

Hi Teach...Hi Pupe!

For those of you too young to recognize or like a lot of us, too old to remember the literary reference in the title it comes from the late sixties novel “Up the Down Staircase” by Bel Kaufman chronicling the woes of a new teacher struggling through the frustrations of the public school system’s bureaucracy.
This being the first week of the school year for a lot of students and educators, I thought it would be n*** to salute one of the two most underappreciated professions, teachers and also add my humble musings on education in general.
I take pride in calling so many of you life-long friends. And on my Facebook list there are several more of these beautiful dedicated people both currently active and retired. They include kindergarten teachers, elementary school teachers, high school instructors and at least one university professor. There’s even one dude trying to fake his way through teaching Chinese students English in Beijing.
I cherish the efforts that my teachers put forth in aiding me along my journey to where I am today. I can even appreciate the infamous Sister Miriam Henry for making sure we learned all the basics necessary in grade one even though her methods could have been described as brutal. In fact, most of the Spanish Inquisitors would have winced at some of her antics.  I’m pretty sure one of my favourite current grade one teachers uses much more civilized methods to control her students. Right, JS?
The most important thing my teachers instilled in me was the desire to learn more by encouraging my curiosity. This desire did not stop just because I stopped going to school. In the work place, I always made it a habit to stick my nose into every aspect of the business because I wanted to know how every operated not just what went on in my little corner of the office. I’ve always found that the more I learn the greater my appetite to learn becomes and as well the more I want to share my gained knowledge and/or opinions thus I’m inflicting my love of writing upon you.
It would be a lie to say that all the teachers I ran across were excellent and some I would even question their competence but I do not recall running across one teacher that was only in it for the money or the benefits. Oh sure there probably are some teachers in this category but there are much more lucrative ways to accumulate wealth. Despite rumours very few teachers spend their entire summer at their villa in the south of France planning their winter vacation in Aspen.
With regard to education in general, I am saddened to see the path our system is heading. There seems to be a misguided movement that believes marks and test scores are the ultimate goal. It is one thing to use the rote method in teaching basic skills and even then it is not necessarily that beneficial. I can remember being an abysmal failure when it came to rapidly reciting or worse writing out the times tables but I was always the first to identify the answer in a word or logic problem. We have calculators to do the actual multiplication now; the real trick is in figuring out the path to the answer. And would someone please tell me the logic in having to know that 11x12=132 when our entire system is Base 10?
The best way to instil a love of education in a child is not to point out his or her weaknesses but to encourage their strengths. This is where our current system is starting to fail us. Art, music, PE and other creative programs are being cut. This will only lead to more students giving up on education.
The current attitude to post-secondary education is heading in the wrong direction as well. There is a major movement for universities to become job training centers rather than places of education. I think the world would be much better off with more MA’s in Medieval Languages and less MBA’s. (Does that make up for the earlier cheap shot, RD?)
Note to all the English teachers reading this: I couldn’t give a rat’s ass if I made a few grammatical errors here! ;-P
Once again, Thanks, Teach!! :-D

Just in case you are wondering what the other most underappreciated profession is, it would be nurses. Although I have several fabulous friends who are in that calling I don’t plan on writing about them. Personally, I am not really fond of being in the position where it is necessary to deal with a nurse. However, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the wonderful things you do to help people in their times of need.

Postscript - June 15/14 - You can read about my new found increased respect for the nursing profession when you read about my adventures in "How I Spent My 'Fall' Vacation"

Thank you and enjoy the rest of your day here in the Magic Kingdom. Oh crap, wrong theme park! ;-)


  1. Well said Denny!

    As for crappy teachers, I only remember my grade 2 teacher. Wicked, mean man.

    But my time with my grade 7 science teacher was phenomenal. I cried when I graduated to grade 8 because I wouldn't see and talk with him daily. He helped instill patience and a sense of wonder. I love you Mr. Gable! :)

  2. Curiosity is one of those strengths that gets squashed if it isn't fed at a young age. N***ly said, Dennis! As for the "12 x table" I use it when I'm cutting wood (12 feet = 132 inches) or quilting with my american friends (still operating on inches and yards)... and I still use my geometry stuff (Thank you, Mrs. Bardsley!!!) when I'm designing quilt blocks!