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Fri Sep 14, 2012, 11:25 PM

Why people look down on teachers [View all]



It’s odd. Even if you’re the most toolish striver — i.e., many of the people I grew up with — teachers are your ticket to the Ivy League. And if you’re an intellectually ambitious academic type like me, they’re even more critical. Like I said, people move to Chappaqua for the schools, and if the graduation and post-graduate statistics are any indication—in my graduating class of 270, I’d guess about 50 of us went onto an Ivy League school — they’re getting their money’s worth. Yet many people I grew up with treated teachers as bumptious figures of ridicule — and not in your anarchist-critique-of-all-social-institutions kind of way.

It’s clear where the kids got it from: the parents. Every year there’d be a fight in the town over the school budget, and every year a vocal contingent would scream that the town was wasting money (and raising needless taxes) on its schools. Especially on the teachers (I never heard anyone criticize the sports teams). People hate paying taxes for any number of reasons — though financial hardship, in this case, was hardly one of them — but there was a special pique reserved for what the taxes were mostly going to: the teachers.

In my childhood world, grown ups basically saw teachers as failures. “Those who can’t do, teach” goes the old saw. But where that traditionally bespoke a suspicion of fancy ideas that didn’t produce anything concrete, in my fancy suburb, it meant something else. Teachers had opted out of the capitalist game; they weren’t in this world for money. There could be only one reason for that: they were losers. They were dimwitted, unambitious, complacent, unimaginative, and risk-averse. They were middle class.

No one, we were sure, became a teacher because she loved history or literature and wanted to pass that on to the next generation. All of them simply had no other choice. How did we know that? Because they weren’t lawyers or doctors or “businessmen”— one of those words, even in the post-Madmen era, still spoken with veneration and awe. It was a circular argument, to be sure, but its circularity merely reflected the closed universe of assumption in which we operated.


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Starry Messenger Sep 2012 OP
loli phabay Sep 2012 #1
hughee99 Sep 2012 #7
MichiganVote Sep 2012 #8
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loli phabay Sep 2012 #19
meaculpa2011 Sep 2012 #22
roguevalley Sep 2012 #18
dkf Sep 2012 #2
Starry Messenger Sep 2012 #3
dkf Sep 2012 #10
Starry Messenger Sep 2012 #11
HiPointDem Sep 2012 #14
Smarmie Doofus Sep 2012 #20
HiPointDem Sep 2012 #15
Smarmie Doofus Sep 2012 #4
Starry Messenger Sep 2012 #5
coalition_unwilling Sep 2012 #16
Starry Messenger Sep 2012 #17
cr8tvlde Sep 2012 #6
nadinbrzezinski Sep 2012 #12
HiPointDem Sep 2012 #13
woo me with science Sep 2012 #21
Starry Messenger Sep 2012 #23
gulliver Sep 2012 #24