The Hero Teacher
Walking home, I saw a sign posted in a yard “Teachers are Heroes. Support teachers.” Stopping a moment in the grind of the long-standing resentment held for teachers, I shook my head and continued walking as sadness replaced despise. Despite not wanting to believe every teacher qualifies as bad, releasing resentment finds tremendous resistance mainly for feeling justified in my frustration.
Memories still haunt me from a time of less school oversight when verbally abusive nuns and secular teachers, though not allowed, still physically reprimanded elementary students. Waiting in the hallway for paddling ended in the early eighties, but name-calling, passive-aggressive attitudes, and bullying remained in practice. The noble teacher inculcating violence-infused values in a stream of monikers including “lazy,” “idiot,” and others flooded me with resentment as fellow students emulated the teacher and bullied me from adolescence into the middle of high school. Despite Dr. Spock’s efforts, many adults, including teachers, viewed bullying as an appropriate means to toughen one into manhood.
This story is old, blaming teachers for childhood trauma and whining about life’s position when ultimately, education success rested squarely on my shoulders, no matter my age. Considered an education failure and blamed for that failure as long as I can remember stokes resentment’s fire after spending more than a decade writing essays entrepreneurially to help many people earn college degrees. A business started at a point of career exasperation which revealed essay writing more lucrative than my job of fourteen years.
Despite selling students essays with a clear disclaimer of my copyright and intended use of the essay as a study guide or model for their work, they turned them in.* The irony that no educator ever formally questioned the papers written by the guy teachers harshly downgraded and didn’t bother to teach inflames memories with screaming parents holding D and F filled report cards.
Perhaps you still don’t empathize with my frustration. Maybe you would if you assisted students with their online classes, which introduced a new world of academic despise. Amazingly, I could help fourteen students with multiple online courses while watching Netflix and drinking vodka. Despite the heavy academic workload, I made some observations about teachers in the online environment.
The online teacher’s ability to ignore assaults on grammar, punctuation, logic, and many other mistakes likens to President Trump gleefully watching the Capital’s storming. Often, the online teachers partook in education’s battering, with neither teacher nor student appearing aware of autocorrect.
An excerpt emailed to me from an online class discussion in which the student didn’t understand the discussion. Could you blame her?
Assuming the problem isolated to online schools soon proved wrong as reputable universities joined the education beatdown. Now, I cannot show you their poorly written syllabuses filled with grammatical and punctuation errors because an unnamed university’s Attorney Fellow sent a letter to inform me that syllabuses and assignment directions are copyright material.
From the Attorney Fellow
The Attorney Fellow sent the letter, letting me know the use of assignment directions for advertising services violated copyright, so posting syllabuses in this article may instigate a similar copyright claim. Surely, this incident exemplifies academia’s relentless fight against plagiarism, using lawyers to defend syllabuses and other academic material. Clearly, education’s commitment to fighting cheating falls not in doubt’s shadow cast by popular websites filled with homework directions that coincidentally are the same copyright infringement the lawyer warned me about violating.
Course Hero Note: Course Hero has many of my papers uploaded against my copyright, but that’s okay, I completely understand. (Fair Use)
Notice the poor sentence construction, verbosity, and ugly use of passive voice: all practices universities denounce despite appearing in all their materials, setting a perfect example. Now, you might be thinking, “Wait a minute. That’s not the teacher’s fault because education companies create most assignment directions. It’s not the teacher’s fault schools buy mass-produced education material. Teachers are victims.”
You are correct that much education material, especially for online schools, comes from large education companies. (We can’t post their work either because of copyright infringement.) But, who do you believe benefits from the mass production of curriculum? If teachers don’t design assignments, then their time must be spent grading, right? Yes, an arduous task of shifting files with the mouse into the WritePoint and Turnitin systems to kick out autocorrected papers. Of course, this assumes the system lacks automated assignment checks for mechanics and plagiarism, which most schools employ during student submission.
Don’t think brick-and-mortar universities are different; these teachers enjoy far more freedom than their online counterparts. Instead of using mass-produced education, they use the same curriculum year after year posted on web pages to avoid time wasted emailing or printing copies. If you went to school ten years ago, you might find many of your instructor’s web pages still in use and unchanged. Assuming this abundance of time diverts to helping students sadly proved wrong with students writing me, “my teacher is a huge, raging, passive-aggressive jerk” who made rules like don’t talk to me, only email me.
At times, I sympathized with teachers, having dealt with many students and their emails,
These are from very old emails and parts of the email address were removed to protect privacy, and I made sure the accounts no longer exist.
Yes, these are awful messages but blaming young college kids blames the victim. If the person can’t write, then why were they accepted to college? Who let them escape high school without learning? You can blame parents in some cases, but I didn’t earn a living writing papers because every parent failed their kid. The education system must shoulder some blame.
Perhaps you’re a diehard optimist and refuse to see teachers in this light, which I understand because no one wants to believe the ugly nature of education. Stories like the recent college admissions scandal where money bought college entrance to ivy league schools should not shock anyone. Throughout my life, lazy, arrogant teachers passed people along, whether for sports or some other nonacademic reason. No doubt, poor luck brought many bad teachers into my life, and I can only think of two I liked while attending school. Still, bad luck doesn’t explain more than a decade of writing papers and dealing with countless students whose teachers just didn’t give a crap.
Education’s ugliest truth forms in the need colleges have for people like me, who curb the bad-for-business practice of dismissing failing and cheating students. Schools love to brag about graduating X number of people annually, but more than graduate numbers, they like student loans. If you expel students, you lose their loan money along with bragging rights. That’s why the Attorney Fellow’s copyright infringement warning amounted to a gentle tap on the shoulder, and that’s why Course Hero and many other websites continue to post copyright from universities.
While cheating benefits schools, it is a godsend for teachers because the guy buying papers is one less student the teacher needs to deal with unless he gets caught. For all their talk about kids cheating and plagiarizing, teachers benefit from reduced work grading and student interaction, providing the papers pass the automated systems.
Despite resenting teachers, I only partially blame them because many elements polluting education started long ago. Capitalism’s reduction of teachers and students to budget line items explains much of the problem, but let’s not delude ourselves with the fantastical notion teacher-heroes fight on the front line for students. Maybe some teacher-heroes advocate for students, but since elementary school’s start, in 1977, I never met one.