Oh, yes, the Villain. He is a teacher, usually male, but not always. He invariably has many more years experience than our hero. He is a cynic, somewhat tired, but still more than able to keep doing his job. But that's all he's doing... his job.
You see, he has come to realize the TRUTH about teaching. We find this out during a scene in the teacher's lounge, in which our protagonist is railing about how hard teaching is, and how is one supposed to give these kids hope, make them believe in themselves, invest in themselves and their future?
And the Villain? He smiles and says, "You can't. You've been lied to. It is not possible for this job to be what you believe it is."
Our protagonist looks up, shocked. At this point, a debate begins. The protagonist, being noble and heroic, holds forth that EVERY child can be a winner. The Villain smiles sadly and says that the Protagonist is not being realistic. You can't save them all. You can only do what you can do, and if you push yourself too hard and too far, you'll burn out and not be able to do ANYTHING for ANY of them. Our protagonist rejects this heresy. Dammit, there has to be SOME way to SOMEHOW make this work... and sure enough, by the end of the movie, our hero is successful. All the kids rally in support. Hope is alive. The Villain has been proven wrong.
I see a lot of stereotypes about teaching; you can't escape them in education. Teachers are magic. Teachers rearrange children's worlds. Teachers are people who failed in their career fields, and now they teach instead of playing pro football or writing novels or being college professors. Teachers mostly just want to screw their hardbodied young proteges. Teachers are called to this profession by their saintliness and willingness to sacrifice their lifetimes in the interests of the Youth of Tomorrow.
Like I said, crap.
I have known many teachers. A few were the scum of the earth. A few were truly saintly people. But most of them were no better or worse than most folks -- just better educated, and just as likely to gripe and bitch and be snarlish during standardized testing week. But the public luuuuvs those stereotypes, and they won't let them go, and the politicians luuuuv to ride the teachers into office by "fixing education," and the stereotypes are most handy for that. And so sometimes I actually encounter this crap coming out of people who should know better.
Like teachers, for example.
The trope that set me off? "A REAL teacher wouldn't give up on ANY child, no matter WHAT the circumstances."
Ooooh, I felt like letting someone have it, right then. But I did not. Because I am a professional. More than that, I am a professional whose main focus lies on keeping one's temper and being patient. Admittedly, I was hired to do this with STUDENTS, not idiot adults who should know better... but, hey, that's education.
So let's kick the tropes around:
A REAL teacher wouldn't give up on ANY child, no matter WHAT the circumstances!
Every child can learn.
Every child has a right to an education.
A teacher should be a learner, and should take training and classes every year to stay current.
The school's job is not only to teach, but to socialize.
Schools must keep the kids safe.
We don't need more money for education -- we need more education for our money!
If schools are not doing well, this can be fixed by cutting their funding.
If schools are not doing well, this can be fixed by firing all the teachers and administrators.
These are just some of the major beliefs about education, and there is some truth in each of them. To regard them as absolutes, though -- as so many folks seem to -- is a towering mistake. I've tried explaining this before, only to be poo-poohed, and placed in the same bracket with the Villain in the Teacher's Lounge: "What kind of teacher are you, to have so little faith, so little hope, so little motivation? Do you have some kind of an attitude problem?"
A REAL teacher wouldn't give up on ANY child, no matter WHAT the circumstances! Crap. A REAL teacher picks his battles, and takes care of herself, because if she burns out or goes crazy trying to accomplish the improbable, this benefits no one.
Every child can learn. This is true. But not every child wants to, and some children will resist learning, and some will fight like hell for their right to ignorance, and of these, some will have parents who don't give a fart in a high wind, and some have parents who will actively assist the children in counteracting their education. I see it every year. Rotsa ruck, there, Mr. Chips.
Every child has a right to an education. Whether they want it or need it or use it or not. In other countries and other cultures, if you aren't doing jack with your education, they kick you the fuck out and let the educators concentrate on the ones who can and will. Meanwhile, our politicians measure our numbers against the Japanese (who do exactly this) and proclaim "something is wrong with education! Elect me, so I can fix it!" And the cycle begins anew. We can't do what the Japanese do, of course. It ain't democratic. We have to force ALL our kids to be rocket scientists. Or try, anyway.
A teacher should be a learner, and should take training and classes every year to stay current. At their own expense, it seems. And while I'm out learning all the newest trends in education, who's gonna teach my damn classes?
The school's job is not only to teach, but to socialize. And if parents were truly held accountable for this, the school could do their end quite effectively.
Schools must keep the kids safe. I agree with this, mostly. However, schools are not jails, nor are they bunkers. Their job is to educate kids. The more extra jobs we stick in there, the less effective the education part will be. Where does the accountability begin and end? Keep 'em safe from what? Each other? Pedophile teachers? Random loonies on the streets?
We don't need more money for education -- we need more education for our money! Whenever I hear some kind of cockeyed politician buzzphrase like this, I think, "Education's too important to be left in the hands of politicians."
If schools are not doing well, this can be fixed by cutting their funding. Y'know what? You can't punish an organization. You can't. You can punish individuals, but an organization will simply disintegrate into its components if you hit it too hard. You'd think the recent financial institution disasters would have taught the politicians this. And yet they seem to think that if you treat an institution like a person, it will react like a person. I can treat my hamster like a rocket scientist, but I don't think it'll be taking over the world anytime soon. When has any expensive situation ever benefited from having money taken away from it? And how has this improved anything?
If schools are not doing well, this can be fixed by firing all the teachers and administrators. See above -- if you fire all the personnel, they will run out and find new jobs, and then you will have a whole new school with all new people... who are brand new and will take a year or two to get the ball rolling... and may not be any better than the old ones... particularly when the problem wasn't the teachers or administrators to begin with! Empty headed thinking from politicians, again. ALL PROBLEMS DO NOT HAVE SIMPLE SOLUTIONS, ASSHEADS! Except, of course, if you are selling a product or running for office.
Let's try some different tropes:
"If you were a real doctor, none of your patients would die. Real doctors never give up. From now on, when your patients die, you will not be paid for your work on those particular patients. If more than a certain number of your patients die, your hospital will be shut down while the state fires all the doctors and nurses and replaces them with new ones."
"If you were a real soldier, none of your enemies would survive, and all your battles would be victories, because real soldiers never give up. From now on, if you lose a battle, you will not be paid -- oh, wait, soldiers already get the crappiest pay there is. From now on, if you lose a battle, you will not be permitted to leave the service or go home until that battle has been refought and won properly."
"If you were a real cop, all criminals would be arrested, jailed, tried, convicted, and imprisoned, because real cops never give up, never make mistakes, and always find the one piece of evidence that will put the crook away. From now on, failure to arrest all criminals and solve all crimes will result in cutting of your pay. Further failure will result in the firing of all law enforcement in the area, and their replacement with new cops who don't know the area, the people, the local hangouts, or much of anything, because this will improve things."
"If you were a real politician, all social problems would be solved, and there would be no crime. Real leaders always solve all problems with simple answers. From now on, any crime or social problems in your bailiwick will result in loss of tax revenue, requiring you to do more with less as penance. Continued failure will result in your impeachment and replacement by a politician from the other political party."
Does it sound like crap to you? Then why are we inflicting it on the teachers?
On a completely unrelated note, you know what happens when you go on Google Images to get pictures by using words like "teachers?"
...you get an AMAZING amount of porn! I wonder if this is part of the problem?