Part of the Process

Thoughts on becoming a teacher.

Us versus Them?


As I was reading Chapter 3 of Diane Ravitch’s The Death and Life of the Great American School System, I experienced mostly negative emotions, ranging from disbelief to anger. Ravitch describes the changes the San Diego school district went through in the late ‘90’s and early ‘00’s. New administrators were brought in that favored a heavy handed top-down approach that placed no value on the experience and buy-in of the teachers and principals. Teachers in the San Diego school district were being treated like the enemy. This kind of treatment just doesn’t make sense to me. I can’t imagine thinking that in order to have success in schools, you must force teachers to comply with your agenda. It must have been a pretty dismal time to work in that school district.

As I’ve been thinking about it, I have been reminded of the way the teachers felt about administrators in “School Work: Gender and the Cultural Construction of Teaching” by Biklen. The teachers in this study felt like their supervisors routinely “underestimated them” and were “out of touch” with what went on in the classroom. I don’t personally know a lot of teachers, but I have heard these sentiments expressed before. I wonder how pervasive this distrust between teachers and administrators is in our school systems?

I’m left thinking about what can be done to change the dynamic of these relationships? We have been talking and thinking a lot about teaching as a “Professional Community” in class. As teaching moves towards this “Professional Community”, hopefully teachers will garner more of the respect we deserve and gain more of a voice in policy decisions.


2 thoughts on “Us versus Them?

  1. I had a very similar reaction to the chapter! You would think that after all these years, education “reformers” would figure out that maybe these “reforms” would actually work, if, ya know, TEACHERS were allowed a voice? And it seems so common sense to me that the individuals given the responsibility of carrying out these “reforms” would be treated with some communal and professional regard…I’m just saying that I would probably produce far better work when I’m working in a safe, cohesive, understanding environment than when I’m in constant fear of losing my job. But we’re just teachers, what do we know? 😉

  2. I felt the same way while I was reading this book. I found it so disheartening. These are the issues that people don’t often think about when they consider a career in teaching. We want to teach because we want to help kids learn and make a difference. We believe in what we are doing. It’s sad to think that there is this whole other side to our profession.

    I think though that we have to believe change is possible. History has shown us that it is. If enough people work together positive changes can occur. It’s too depressing to go into this career if we do not have the hope that things will get better.

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