Take a stand against the public denigration of teachers

Yesterday, like many others, I was appalled to read a blog by Judith Sloan in which she attacked Early Childhood Teachers, calling them ‘dim witted’ graduates from ‘second rate’ universities. If you missed it, you can read her post here.

 

Now people write all sorts of unreasonable things on blogs, and usually I would ignore it, writing it off as an ignorant, uninformed rant.

However, Judith Sloan is a person with enormous influence in Australia. Check out her bio.  She also writes a column for the Australian Newspaper, allowing her views to have considerable reach.

Meanwhile, the early childhood teachers that she attacked in her article, have only a limited ability to have their voice heard.

There is an enormous power imbalance here, and Judith Sloan is abusing her position of greater influence to denigrate an entire profession.

At Edutweetoz we want to correct that imbalance and give teachers a voice. We’re tired of the constant teacher bashing and we’re tired of being told what and how to teach by people with no teaching experience or qualifications.

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Why all the teacher bashing?

My personal view is that this sort of teacher bashing springs from more than just ignorance. There are political and financial incentives. If  teachers aren’t respected, or are seen as ‘dim witted’, then there is no need to listen to their voices. There is no need to consult  with them when making policy around education, or take their views seriously. When teachers fight back, pointing out that they have a tertiary education which qualifies them as experts in their field, then it makes sense to denigrate their university background too. If their qualifications are ‘second rate’ then we don’t need to take them seriously.

And what’s the political and financial motivation for all this? Quality education costs money. It’s not something that can be done on the cheap. To attract  and keep good teachers we need to pay them fairly.  To provide a quality public education, we need to fund that properly. Those who don’t believe in using taxes to invest in the public good are always going to oppose this. I believe the denigration of teachers is a convenient way of keeping us out of policy decisions, trivialising our work and convincing the community that they do not need to invest in the public provision of education.

What can we do?

Speak out against the denigration of teachers by public figures. Use what ever resources to tell people that it’s not acceptable.  Write letters, send emails, use Twitter, Facebook, blogs, or whatever media you have available, to send a message that it’s not okay.

Use that media as well to shine a light on the important work that teachers do. Stand up for the profession and let your voice be heard.

 

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How Edutweetoz can help.

At Edutweetoz, we want to build a like-minded community and a  platform to help you do that.  Sign up  here to be a guest tweep for a week, share your blogs with us so we can share them with the community and use our Facebook page to share good stories and to make a stand against those who seek to marginalise our profession.

Help us spread the word about the life changing work of teachers.

 

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12 thoughts on “Take a stand against the public denigration of teachers

  1. Not saying that what she said was right but I think you need to re-read the article. It doesn’t mention teachers at all. She is talking about child care centres and child care workers.

    1. Hi Mandy, thank you for commenting.

      I think early childhood teachers and the universities that train them would disagree that they are not teachers.

      In fact, I employ many teachers at my school (K-6 primary) whose degree qualifies them to teach in both early childhood centres and primary schools.

      1. That may be the case for some, but the bulk of Childcare centre workers have a diploma in childcare not a degree in education. By all means take her up on what she says but don’t attribute things to people that they haven’t said. It weakens your argument. As a teacher, I totally agree with most of what you have said but I certainly didn’t see it as a response to what was discussed in this blog. This blog was all about childcare centres and the people who work in them, not schools and teachers and I still see a very big difference between the two.

  2. Nice work, Corinne. A large part of the problem is also that everyone who has been to school is automatically an expert on education.

    One thing Sloan wrote that could almost be reasonable is “Perhaps we should require all new [parents] to have a university degree in early childhood development?” [edit mine]. I don’t mean that the majority of parents are terrible (they aren’t), but you know the ones that would benefit from some serious education in child-rearing.

  3. A differentiation between school teachers and ECE teachers need not be highlighted here. Surely, we are all aware that child care services employ ECE teachers as well as educators with Diplomas & Certificates. Either way, the job of educating and caring for children should be regarded as a profession and all staff treated as such.

  4. Hi Mandy,

    I really don’t think it matters if she calls them teachers or childcare workers (she calls them neither). She does however talk about people who ‘instruct’ in daycare centres. I take this to mean she is referring to educators – people responsible for the instruction of others, people who care about whether or not children learn about the colour orange or to recognise triangles (clearly she doesn’t). In belittling this sector, Sloane belittles everything that educators do across all sectors. Macquarie University runs Early Childhood courses and Primary Education Courses – does that mean the primary degrees from there are also for dim-witted graduates.

    I firmly believe that as educators we need to stand together against these sorts of slurs. Yes, some people in childcare centres don’t have degrees, however it is not these people that Sloan is talking about. She explicitly talks about graduates from universities. This attack is part of a wider attitude to educators from all sectors – ‘Those who can’t teach’, raising the ATAR, emotional intelligence tests.

    Having worked closely with Early Years educators, I know the value of the job they do and the importance of national standards. I disagree with absolutely everything she says in her blog. Everything. And I worry that this is just a sign of things to come if the government changes, I do not believe that this is a one-off comment and that is why I stand against it.

    1. Fair enough – point taken. As a mother of young children, one who is still in childcare, I certainly know the value of what they do and while I didn’t like the blog, I didn’t see it as an attack on teachers. However, I take the points you’ve made on board and certainly appreciate anyone taking up the fight for valuing the education of children of any age.

  5. I don’t think referring to early childhood workers as teachers weakens your argument at all. As a teacher who specialised in Early Childhood at university, one thing that continually was pushed upon our pedagogy was the notion that it takes a village to raise a child.

    We know as educators that parents are the first ‘teachers’ of their children. It is a fact of life that we will experience education from a range of sources in our lives. Early childhood workers are teachers, they have a role to play. Last time I checked you didn’t need a degree to be a parent and having one or not does not dictate whether or not you can ‘teach’ your child. Early childhood educators do amazing work in their jobs and should be acknowledged for it.

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