So, I was reading the first few chapters of Matthew (from the Bible) and I was struck by how the environment of the Christmas story is not very ideal for Jesus’ birth and first few years. Mary and Joseph are turned away from the inn, the king plots to kill the child, and the family is forced to leave their home land. Then, at the end of Jesus’ life, he is betrayed by one of his closest followers and his life is traded for a criminal by popular demand.
Whether these stories are historically accurate, or whether my theology is accurate, the story is compelling. The uphill battle from the very beginning, the surprise ending…the conflict is palpable. The very person who is purportedly here to save people is resisted as an infant by the government and by their peers and supporters as an adult.
I wonder if teachers might face similar conflict. No one would dare say teachers are not an important resource. Indeed, everyone loves to shout about how important teachers are to the future. Indeed, the notion that education will “save you” runs throughout popular discourse. Yet, the government plots to get rid of teachers (at least public ones) and the ludicrously low starting salaries metaphorically kills many teachers before they are even born.
I wish I could say the conflict goes away once a teacher enters the profession, but in many ways the pressure gets worse. From outside the profession, the standards and curriculum efforts seek to “teacher proof” education – dismissing the hard-won professional knowledge individual teachers have about their content and their students. Unfortunately, the negative forces don’t end at the school door. Colleagues and administrators often seek to dismiss anyone who stands out and pressure to “be in the same place as everyone else” stands diametrical opposed to calls for differentiation.
While Christ had to die on the cross to complete his mission, I think we need our best teachers to stick around a bit longer. We need to stop trying to crucify our teachers and let them do what we say we want them to – educate our young.