I find it odd, and a little offensive, the constant rhetoric that gets launched at times at people who might disagree with teachers striking “for the kids”. The argument is not very complex, but bears laying out:
- People should support education
- Teachers deliver education
- Teachers are striking to change the government’s bad approach to education
Ergo, people should support a teachers’ strike. And, of course, the reverse MUST be true — if you don’t support a strike, you obviously hate teachers, kids and education.
Which leaves me with a puzzling conundrum. I cannot support strike action, yet I don’t hate teachers, kids or education. So where did I fall off the train above? I initially wrote a REALLY long post and realized it is way too convoluted to share as a single post. As such, I’m breaking it into five parts. This first part deals with the first two arguments above and the scope of “education”.
PEOPLE SHOULD SUPPORT EDUCATION
I could word that line as “education is uber important” or that “it’s about our future”, as many protest signs do, but let’s stick with the simpler wording. Is there any problem here for me? Not a whit.
I believe in the value of education. My entire sense of being revolves around lifelong learning, and so I cannot in any way ever support the idea of a cut or really anything that diminishes the value of education. Growing up, school was a refuge for me. A place where, surprisingly, things made sense. Not so much with people, friends, family, socializing, etc., but the subject matter at school did. A world where, if I could have lived in that “bubble of ideas”, it would have seemed close to heaven. People throw in stats about contributions to earnings, job security, blah blah blah, but that is treating education as a means to an end. For me, I’m willing to accept that education is a goal in and of itself.
I’m all in, no argument here, I would even go stronger.
TEACHERS DELIVER EDUCATION
As I said, I value education, I value schools, and I think teaching is one of the noblest of professions on the planets. It is tough, and many people could not last a day doing it. Many of those who could last wouldn’t be any good at it. Finding someone who likes it, embraces it and is good at it? Those individuals should probably be worshipped daily. Even if I didn’t know that from my own experiences growing up, I have four teachers in my extended family who could rightly smack me silly to believe anything else. Again, I’m all in, and the wording could be as strong as you want to make it for this premise.
But teachers are one part of “education”. Maybe the most important part, sure, but not the whole system. Teachers know how to teach, absolutely, and know what has worked in their classrooms in the past, how changes will affect learning. I’m willing to defer to them on that aspect. Who would know it better?
But teaching is one part of the delivery network for the education system, as is having a school, support staff and principals, transportation, security, or janitorial services, school layouts and locations, all of it. The “education system” also includes school boards, multiple school systems even, aspects of learning, human rights, stakeholders, curriculum development, even political support. Plus the dreaded area of budgeting, system management, representation from the full constituency of citizens and taxpayers who fund the system. Accountability. And relationships between the education system and other parts of the state.
All things that go way beyond a teacher in a classroom.
Which means they are one part, not the whole thing. They contribute to delivering “education”, they don’t control all of it.
If they stay in that lane, and that lane only, the argument can hold. If they go beyond their lane, their claim to superior knowledge is suspect.
Conclusion for part one
I can agree with the first premise, and I can narrow the second premise enough for it to hold. Education is important and teachers’ views of the classroom component are solid. So far, the logic holds. I’m still on the train.