Another Brick in the Wall: Who'd be a Teacher?
We are under such heavy pressure at work these days that I just had to have a rant, which I’ve tried to prevent from being libelous. I’m really tired of us carrying the can for mistakes that have been made higher up. It’s not just me, we are all totally pissed off.
There are lots of reasons why so many teachers working here are unhappy. Take the university’s dismal failure to communicate with teachers, in spite of its so-called ‘transparency’ and ‘open door’ policy. Or its weirdly one-size fits-all attitude. Most of all, the negativity of some of its decision-makers is a problem.
This is ironic, in view of the fact that they love accusing teachers of having a negative attitude. The negativity manifests in a spirit-sucking, energy-sapping refusal to accommodate, and a mulish suspicion of foreigners—or rather, those of them who do not care to go through life as an amusing clown, or to ingratiate themselves by adopting a fake local persona.
Contrary to what is claimed, new ideas are only welcomed if they run along the lines of current departmental thinking. Because a deep vein of insecurity runs through the place, anything other than praise and agreement is perceived as a threat. Despite their enthusiasm for re-inventing the wheel when it comes to minor details, there is an all-embracing acceptance that everything, i.e. the system, is the way it is and there’s nothing that can be done.
This is particularly difficult for foreigners who have grown up in a democratic culture and are accustomed to plain speaking, lively debate and the value placed on different ideas. Native speakers also try not to be frustrated by the supercilious and patronising attitude of a few people who seem to think that because of qualifications they hold, they speak and use English better, or ‘more correctly’ than those who have English as their Mother Tongue.
Being sick or taking time off for a serious personal matter is a nightmare. Teachers are guilted into coming in when they really should not. The threat of dismissal for somehow being weak or ‘uncommitted to the institution’ hangs over teacher’s heads, a constant Sword of Damocles. When the department is down in numbers because of a bout of ’flu going around, teachers are made to feel that if they can stand up they should be in. If teachers dare to phone in sick they are expected to pay back their lesson hours the minute they stagger back. Brilliant when they are having trouble seeing straight.
In the end, many teachers become so beaten down by ‘the system’ that they develop bunker mentality and just try to get to the end of the day, every day, and go home, home, home...
So why haven’t we all risen up in revolt long ago and demanded change? Isn’t it incredible that teachers still want to work here? Well, we all know about the economic crisis. Teachers aren’t concerned with a couple of hundred lira a month more or less in their salary, but they do have families to look after and rent to pay, and they worry that immediately finding another job will be difficult.
Also, many teachers—or rather, those who are still at the coalface of classroom teaching and not tucked away in some quango in an upper echelon—are committed to their students. The students are in fact the main reason why the teachers still like the job they do.
Most importantly, the university is a world unto itself. There are very few teachers who are prepared to be a voice crying out for change—because clearly they will find themselves crying out in the wilderness, after the doors have clanged shut firmly against them…
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