Sunday, December 13, 2009

Social Guardians, Social Innovators, or Social Reformers

What is our job as teachers?

I get really frustrated with this. There seems to be at least three roles we have to fulfill as educators.

Social Guardians:
As teachers, we have a responsibility to be guardians of the society and culture that hires us. We may not want this, but the reality is we (at least in public schools in the United States) are hired as public servants. We belong to 'the man'. As such, I have an obligation to fulfill the role asked of me by the public. The District I belong to, the State that issues my license, the parents in the commnity I teach in all have a reasonable expectation that I teach the children in my care the morals, values, knowledge and skills that they want me to. In this way, we are guardians who maintain the society we are part of. This is the role the teacher, shaman, wise-man, priest or matriarch took when they initiated rites that kept the societies values in the center of the communities view. Teachers to some extent do the same. We do our best to entrench the societies dogma into the students.

Social Innovators:
We are also, expected to some extent or other to be agents for social and societal change. We are expected to inspire the young generations to new heights, to encourage them to right the wrongs in our society, we are expected to help them achieve their dreams, This doesn't jive to well with the first role. They are at odds with each other.

Social Reformers:
We are also often supposed to be actively fixing what's wrong with society. All the ills of the world can be cured if we can just teach the kids right. Teachers bear the burden of trying to fix what's wrong with families, the media, society, the government, and even education itself, because we are the ones who teach the younger generation to leave aside the old ineffective ways and adopt bold new ways of thinking?

And people wonder why teachers have a hard time.

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