Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Pretentious Teachers

Just how pretentious and arrogant are teachers?

The reason I am asking this is a conversation I heard last night in a bar in Silom. It consisted of four teachers, three of whom looked the earnest late 20s out to change the world types and one maybe middle 30s. I suppose that the conversation is a fairly harmless one but it was more the style than the content that had me nearly spilling my beer at times at the whole pretentiousness of it all. As they were talking about different subjects, I am again guessing they were in some English Program somewhere at a better school.

The heat of the discussion was, which is the most vital subject that is being taught today.

Now part of the trouble is that when you are trying to listen to a conversation you shouldn’t be and you are in a public place, you can’t really make it so obvious that you are trying to listen in. Also you tend to miss parts of the conversation.

I wonder if this is a common debate in staffrooms across the lands - my subject’s better than your subject! I really don’t know if they ever stopped to think about just how bad the conversation sounded from the outside. They can’t even have the excuse they were drunk because they weren’t, it was still early afternoon. I think maybe about after 40 minutes or so I gave up and went to another bar as they were still at it.

As ever, it seemed to be the history teacher that had the most to say, how people must learn the past so they don’t make mistakes in the future, the past has many lessons etc etc.
What is it about history teachers? All the ones I have known have loved the sound of their own voice. The last one I worked with was so opinionated that once I had learned the lesson, I never raised particular subjects, walked away when some came up or just went to sleep - mentally. Especially if he had drunk a few. It was then a case that you weren’t really in a conversation, you were in a lecture and you got lectured and any viewpoint was totally dismissed as worthless and you were thought of as an idiot.

But moving on, a lot of teachers here – especially in the “better” schools - do seem to be quite full of their own self importance. I have spoken to a few who seem convinced they were changing the world with the one hour or two a week they see their kids, for how the kids loved them and would press their little faces again the glass window of the classroom eager to get it and learn from them.

It may be different for some people, but I didn’t have a particular teacher that did that to me at school. Sure, there were teachers I respected because they knew their stuff and made it interesting but me running up to the door to press my little face against the classroom door? Please, pass the sick bucket.

The teachers at the lower end seem to have a much better expectation of what impact they have. They know that maybe they will get one or two kids that pay attention in a class or want to learn quietly and maybe just maybe they can pass some encouragement onto the kids. The rest? Well, do your best and hope they will shut up once in a while and maybe one or two will remember you in six months time. The only reason these kids might run up to the classroom window is because they know the will get to play games and run around all lesson.

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