Quality teachers – Editorial

Quality teachers – Editorial

By Stabroek News – March 15, 2012  – Editorial |

One of the most ignorant sayings of all time is that attributed to George Bernard Shaw: “Those who can ‘do’, those who can’t teach” as it seeks to negate the teaching profession and the fact that most persons who ‘do’, unless they were born geniuses, are only able to ‘do’ because they were taught how to ‘do’.

The International Summit on the Teaching Profession, which opened yesterday in New York and ends today, was expected to reflect on a recent report commissioned by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which says that teachers need to be given “status, pay and professional autonomy”. The report also calls for teaching as a career to be made more attractive so that it will attract the brightest students.

The report, written after an examination of the schools’ systems of some of the world’s developed and highly industrialised countries, notes that education standards will remain stagnated unless the brightest recruits could be attracted to join the teaching profession.

Traditionally, the men and women entering the teaching profession did so for the love of it; because they knew they could not be happy unless they were imparting knowledge to children. Back then, too, teachers, as public servants or in private educational institutions such as those run by churches, were paid decently and were well respected as well. Not any more.                 

The OECD report notes that at present, teachers across the industrialised world “are not receiving levels of pay that reflect their importance”. When one considers that the best teachers from Guyana and other parts of the Caribbean as well, flock to developed countries because they are offered better pay and working conditions than they receive at home, it gives pause for thought as to just how poor the salaries and working conditions for teachers in developing countries are.

Respect for teachers, too, is at an all-time low. Sadly, some of the blame for this has to be laid squarely at teachers’ feet. There have been too many instances where parents and guardians stormed into schools and abused teachers verbally and physically. Students also have been notorious for brutally attacking their teachers verbally and otherwise; in some cases because they are ‘chips off the old block’, or because they have problems which either have not been noticed and addressed by their parents or have been ignored.

Teachers complain the world over of having to spend as much as 20% of their teaching time addressing problems with discipline and sometimes hygiene, which ought to have been addressed at home. This would obviously have a negative impact on learning.

In this technological age also, where students’ access to information can be just a mouse click away, there is need for the calibre of teachers who have the necessary knowledge to sift through the millions of megabytes of information out there that could cloud the students’ focus.

The OECD report pointed also to the universal attrition rate of teachers. While in developing countries teachers leave the country but not necessarily the profession, in the industrialised world, teachers are leaving the profession for more lucrative jobs. Teachers are in short supply the world over and unless the issue is addressed frontally, there will come a day when those who would like to ‘do’ are unable to because they would not have been properly schooled.

Anyone can stand in front of a chalkboard and attempt to impart knowledge to students or pretend to do so. Only teachers who actually care whether it is done will make the extra effort to do so and those appear to be in short supply, which is one of the reasons why some children go through years of schooling and emerge knowing very little or nothing at all. And until policy makers grasp that it is the quality of teacher that makes the difference, nothing will change.

— Post #1199

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  • Teach a Teacher non profit  On 03/15/2012 at 4:22 pm

    And those who cant teach ….. coach! Sorry, I just couldn’t resist! I have many friends who coach and are excellent educators. Teachers become teachers for many reasons. #1 they found out there were too many tough Biology courses to become a Dr. #2. Dad was going to leave the business to brother Freddy! #3. They believed they had a calling and followed that calling. Thank god!
    I believe teachers should be paid more …. if for nothing else, then paid more for the responsibility we place on them. However, more pay doesn’t always equate to a better productivity except for the Quality we get from our government Senators and Legislators for their pay and benefits! Sorry, I couldn’t leave that one alone!
    Respect for teachers …. respect is at an all time low. Educators cannot be held accountable for society’s decline in general. Teachers spend an inordinate amount of time doing what PARENTS should be doing/should have done.

    Here in Peru (a developing country) where we focus our attention, technology is years away from a “mouse click”. I sometimes tell people “the wheel and fire are still very new here! A teacher from here could not leave this country and get any teaching job in the states. Many of the “teachers” here have no teaching certificate. Education has been of little importance here. The “teachers” we work with truly appreciate and want desperately to learn. We’re not trying to teach them Eng. or change their religion or culture, we’re trying to teach them basic teaching skills and offer Professional Development, guidance and follow-up. Giving them materials ( the govt doesn’t furnish pencils and paper etc) to work with and no guidance is of little value.
    As bad as the situation is getting in the states, it is still light yrs ahead of Peru and many developing countries.
    If you know of anyone who might be interested in helping us please check us out and pass along the info. Educators can come here and make a huge difference in theses lives (as well) and truly be appreciated and do what they truly love ….. Teach. ….. without having to document everything:)

    http://www.teachateacher.org and http://www.teachateacher.wordpress.com
    thank you for you time and indulgence 🙂

  • needybad4u leonard dabydeen  On 03/15/2012 at 4:55 pm

    Important editorial on teachers. No doubt quality teachers play an important role in the total development of the individual .Teaching bears exciting results when learning as a change of behaviour becomes successful . I always remember Mr. Bynoe’s statement:


    Thank you.
    Leonard Dabydeen

  • Gertrude Godette  On 03/16/2012 at 4:05 am

    I am very surprised at some of the people that are now being employed as Teachers.
    One that I knew of left – left in 1st standard, and what do you know he was
    appointed head master for the very school. Isn’t that amusing?.

    I have a niece who worked in the Welfare Department with a contract for three [3]
    months and now that her contract is up she was not paid for the work that she has
    done, and is still waiting to hear from them.I never knew that someone has to work
    for so long before being paid.I would like to know how long that has started, because I worked in Guyana and was paid every two weeks.

    I think that is why the people that are qualified are leaving. I read where the students at U G, who are in higher grades, are teaching the students that are in lower grades, also they do not have Library Books …. the ones that is in the Library were there since the the University was opened. I would like to know what grades those students are graduating with. I am not surprised that after graduating, and they are given a job that they cannot do the work, because they were given a certificate for the money they paid, which is fraud. I am sure the students are willing to learn but no one is there to teach them. What a shame.

    Where has Guyana gone to? I do hope that it returns soon. At one time Guyana had the highest level of education for the Southern Hemisphere, and even further.

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