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Teacher in Classroom with Young Students

Teachers have become toxically self-important at the expense of their hapless pupils. (image: clipartpal.com)

I am a conservative, and like many people on the right, I have a problem with the leftist propensity for taking everything over. Leftists are against boundaries for the simple reason that they love to overstep them and meddle where they have no business getting involved. A case in point: In a recent local dispute between teachers and parents, a school spokesperson casually claimed that teachers were “co-parents” to the children who attended school. He seemed blissfully unaware that the courts have consistently recognized the primacy of parental authority in the rearing and education of children. Teachers were startled and offended by the public outrage that followed the spokesperson’s remark.

The shocking incident reminded me of something I heard on a radio news broadcast some years ago, a story that vividly reveals what is wrong with many of our teachers.

The piece reported that a young teacher had tragically fallen to her death while hiking in the mountains. Her fellow instructors at the school where she taught had decided they could not let her death go unremarked. That the accident distressed them is perfectly understandable, but note how they chose to deal with their feelings. They opted to involve the children at their school.

The teachers announced that they must tell the deceased young woman’s three to five year old pupils of her death. They then outlined plans to sit with the children while crying and showing grief. They also discussed the difficulties of explaining death to three-year-olds.

Note the wild boundary-ignoring assumptions in all of this:

1) The assumption that the teachers, and not the children’s parents, have the right to decide whether the children should be told of their teacher’s death and have the concept of death explained to them.

2) The assumption that the children must be told.

3) The assumption that children of that age will be upset by the loss of a teacher and, furthermore, require instruction in how to grieve.

Assumption one reveals the unconscious arrogance and possessiveness of the surviving teachers. They obviously view the children as personal property. The inability to see the need for consultation with the parents shows an appalling degree of self-importance.

Assumption two is a clear case of wilful blindness. Small children could easily be put off with a white lie should they inquire after a replaced teacher. It’s not that the children must be told; it’s the case here that the teachers want to tell. Also relevant is the plain fact that a child of that age cannot really conceptualize the fact of death. So once again, we are faced with the selfishness and self-centredness of the teachers. The alleged need to tell masks the self-indulgent desire of the instructors to wallow in grief in front of their hapless young charges.

Assumption three once again lays bare a profound sense of self-importance. It is ridiculous to believe that teachers are valued so highly that their pupils will mourn deeply should they die. I doubt very much that three to five year old children would be acutely distressed by the disappearance of a teacher they see for a few hours on weekdays only. How long could a three-year-old have known the deceased instructor?

This story, as well as the one about co-parenting, exposes the exaggerated sense of importance that teachers have bestowed upon themselves. Undeniably, education is important. Teachers, however, are merely employees of the local school board hired to instruct the young. While it is true that some educators have a profound effect upon certain students, such situations are remarkably rare. Most pupils have wooden heads. All teachers are entirely replaceable. It is high time that, as a society, we took our teachers down a peg or two and restored a more humble appreciation of their rightful place in the scheme of things.

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