We have probably all heard the saying “those who can do, those who cannot teach”; this is a truly despicable saying because it sums up the country’s view on teachers. How can people be successful if they have not had someone to teach them something?
Recently there has been a lot of chatter on why teachers in Finland are doing so well, but we should also look at teachers all over the globe such as in the continents of Africa and Asia. Obviously, teacher pay is not going to be equal in all regions of the world and good pay is important, but there is something else more important that ties all this good teaching together, and it is very simple: respect.
Where respect for the teacher and the teaching profession is paramount, you see good teaching and learning happening. My first teaching experience was in a Japanese high school; in Japan, when people discover you are a teacher, they bow to you and thank you. Imagine, how teachers would feel about their profession and themselves if that happened here? I suffered some severe culture shock when I transferred to the USA K-12 system!
In some of the poorest most dysfunctional countries in the world, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, teachers are not paid much or sometimes nothing at all, but people clamor to them for the knowledge they can provide and will sometimes pay them in food so that they do not go hungry and can still teach. In addition, kids do not skip school because they understand the value of the education and understand that they are lucky to even be in school.
Authentic respect for the profession and the very difficult job that teachers do is lacking in this country, and as a result, you have many bitter cynical teachers who probably did not start that way, but are just riding out their time to retirement because they are in despair. Make no mistake, teaching is a profession: so, why is it that a non-teaching professional can tell teachers how and what to teach? Imagine if people did that with doctors and lawyers? You can have as many teacher award ceremonies as you want, and salute to teacher days. You can talk about how teachers need to be thanked as much as you want, however, unless there is true respect behind all the words and actions, it means nothing. Teachers may not have gone into the profession for the money, but they most definitely did not go into it the profession to be disrespected.
Respect for the profession is what it should be all about.
Dr Flavius A B Akerele III