'Matter of Laugh or Death,' the award-winning humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
TEACHING IS A TOUGH PROFESSION
Let me say this right at the outset so there is no confusion: I admire teachers. I think teaching is a noble profession. Some of my best friends are dedicated, hard-working teachers.
In fact, my dad was a teacher. Which probably explains why I require co-workers in my business office to get a Lav Pass before going to the restroom, and why, when I see a total stranger eating a candy bar, I say sarcastically, “Well, did you bring enough for the whole class?”
I almost went into teaching myself. However, there were two minor reasons why I decided against it: (1) my dad said he’d kill me if I followed in his footsteps (you see, my dad worked in an inner city school—one day a fellow teacher was shot by a student—and for most of his career, my dad’s salary hovered around minimum wage); and (2) I don’t like children. Well, it’s not that I don’t like children, it’s just that the mere thought of being in the same room with 25 of them all day long makes me hyperventilate.
My daughter in college is planning to become a teacher—at least, she is right now. Ask me again in 20 minutes and she may have decided to become an astronaut. Twenty minutes after that, an accountant. I keep telling her it’s OK if she’s not quite sure what she wants to do—although she should make a career choice before, say, age 50—but if she does go into teaching, she’ll be working at a noble profession.
Anyway, although I’m not too fond of the monopolistic, union-driven, bureaucratic state of affairs in public education these days (a topic for another section of this newspaper), I really do admire teachers. Despite my overall admiration, there is one time during the year when I get a little frustrated with them. That time of year is right now, the third week of August. If I hear one more teacher complain, “Oh, I can’t believe summer vacation is almost over!” I’m going to make him or her write 100 times on the blackboard, “I will not whine about a ten-week vacation.”
Most folks get only one or two weeks of vacation each year. For me, the week off I took in early July is now a distant memory. The next time I get a few days off, there probably will be a foot of snow on the ground. So when I hear teachers, who haven’t been in the classroom since late June, moaning that summer vacation went by so fast, I have a hard time mustering up any sympathy.
But I do muster up sympathy for teachers when I remember exactly why they dread the start of a new school year: their ten-week respite from having to deal with the parents of students is coming to an end. Nothing makes me more grateful for my 50 out of 52 weeks work schedule than the knowledge that I never have to deal with indignant parents who refuse to take any responsibility for their child’s atrocious attitude and behavior, and blame all problems on the teacher.
I can’t count the number of times teacher friends of mine have lamented that they hardly ever teach anymore, and instead spend much of their time as glorified babysitters and social workers. (It’s almost as many times as they’ve lamented that summer is coming to an end.)
These teachers know if they attempt to instill some discipline in the classroom, they’ll first be screamed at by the “It’s not our fault!” parents; then not supported by administrators who are scared to death of the “It’s not our fault!” parents; then finally, if they continue to insist on classroom order and discipline, they’ll be sued by “It’s not your fault!” lawyers who have no trouble convincing the “It’s not our fault!” parents that nothing is their fault.
So, to my teacher friends I say: hey, I love you guys, but now it’s time to stop complaining and get back to work.
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