Teachers have a lot of respect in society.
Because of that most sources don’t publish anything that’s remotely critical of teachers.
It’s a subject that’s completely avoided.
The majority of people understand these problems with teachers today.
They may never admit it in any public forum for fear of being labelled as attacking the profession.
I’m going to be writing a lot of stuff that might be offensive to teachers.
This is my attempt to help the profession (and the students that have to suffer through the bad apples.)
Students cannot rely on a large percentage of their teachers to be good role models.
They should not be sources for study advice.
They should not be sources for life advice.
That being said, the negative qualities listed do not apply to all teachers.
These are 7 reasons teachers aren’t always your best role models.
1. They Love Their Subject
There is a sad humor behind teacher recommendations to study more.
When a student is looking to improve their grade, most teachers say to study more.
I’ve gone over why that’s terrible advice many times on this blog.
That’s not even the worst part of it though.
When a history teacher recommends studying history more often, people ignore the obvious bias that teacher has.
History teachers do not become history teachers because they hate history.
They become history teachers because they are a fan of history.
That means, in some way, they enjoy their subject.
This does not apply to the students they’re giving advice to.
When you find a subject enjoyable, it’s much more easier, and much more effective to study for long periods of time.
When you don’t enjoy a subject, there are usually more efficient ways to improve your grades.
2. The Competition Isn’t Tough
Education majors are some of the easiest workloads available to college students.
It’s been shown repeatedly.
No that doesn’t mean all teachers are stupid.
It just means that teachers are more likely to be stupid than engineers or doctors.
Plenty of smart people end up in teaching but they are in a sea of mediocre students that graduated anyway.
If you were to pick a teacher out at random, you’re likely to find a teacher that is a bad example.
That is in comparison to many more difficult majors.
They are not necessarily the people to take advice from.
3. Teaching And Learning Are Not The Same
There are fundamental differences between being a teacher and a student.
A good teacher requires a different set of strategies than a good student.
(By student, in this context, I’m referring to students in school. I feel like the discrepancy is much less pronounced outside of schooling.)
Teachers should have a deep understanding of their subject.
In an ideal world, students would develop a similar deep understanding.
Of course, this isn’t the ideal world.
Most of schooling is designed to move through subjects much quicker than any (typical) student could develop a deep understanding.
That makes a student’s real goal to develop a superficial understanding of the subject that helps them at test time.
Good grades do not go to the students that develop a deep understanding.
They spend hours but often fail to produce competitive grades.
Those students end up stressing themselves out and struggling through tests.
Good grades usually end up with the students that learn only what they need to pass their test.
When a teacher only has a superficial understanding of a subject, they tend to suck at teaching.
If a teacher can give you good advice on this matter, odds are, they’re not the ideal teacher.
4. Done In A Decade
I don’t want to underestimate the difficulty of a job in teaching.
Teaching is a challenging job for many different reasons.
Of course, many students can be terrible little jerks.
That should be a given.
Teaching is also not the most growth oriented career.
A few years into the average teacher’s career, they’ve already completed most of their career curriculum.
Sure, evolving it into better forms would be good but it’s a lot of work and most teachers just don’t decide to do it.
Most teachers are virtually clocked out within a decade of teaching.
They end up teaching their same curriculum year after year.
Just imagine the monotony of teaching the same lessons over and over and over.
Each year you’d get a new set of students that need those same lessons.
I believe teaching should be in a similar category to professional football.
People should go into it for a few years, beat the hell out of themselves, and move on to a more relaxing career.
(Then again, I have seen plenty of older teachers that seem to tough it out fine. Exceptions, not the rule.)
You cannot count on your teachers being the most motivated people around.
Their advice will represent the most conservative approach to life because their decisions are conservative.
(By conservative I don’t mean politically. I mean in their lifestyle.)
Entrepreneurs are a different breed than teachers. So is virtually every other career.
They go to work at the same job, doing the same things, making the same money, teaching the same things, and avoiding saying anything too risky for their jobs.
This is the advice you can expect from the average teacher.
They may be able to help but know that they have picked the high odds horse.
You might not lose but you’re not likely to win big either.
5. Grade Dangers
It’s amusing how often suck ups end up getting mediocre grades in school.
It doesn’t always happen but it happens more often than you might think.
Teachers, generally, do their best to be objective.
If you hold your teachers in high esteem then you are likely to treat them with extra respect.
This extra respect will often get noticed by teachers.
In the teacher’s attempt to stay objective, they’ll increase their expectations of you.
(The more the teacher likes you, the more they’ll raise their standards. It doesn’t go the other way though.)
This is not always the case but try to play it safe.
Don’t be a suck up. (Don’t be an ass.)
6. Test Driven Mentalities
Teachers careers are based around testing.
Teachers cannot have a large percentage of their students fail without risking their own jobs.
This, often unintentionally, drives teachers into teaching the superficial information described earlier.
This can help you as a student in school but it will not help you in life.
Notice how this is the almost the opposite of number 3 (but not quite.)
When teachers are teaching full classes of students they tend to fall into this habit.
When they’re teaching one on one they tend to fall into 3.
Superficial knowledge on a subject isn’t valuable for life. (Unless you’re trying to impress people at cocktail parties.)
Superficial knowledge only helps in school.
7. One Teacher. Many Students.
You can’t expect a teacher to be a role model.
The more you go looking for one that can fit in that role, the more trouble you’re going to have.
Most school systems have teacher to student ratios that are ridiculous.
Even great teachers struggle to teach large groups of students well.
It’s absolutely inevitable that a few students will not like a particular teaching style.
That forces teachers into these contorted combination of styles that can’t help anyone much.
Teachers can’t be good role models because, quite frankly, teachers worth your time don’t have time for you.
If they do have time for you then they likely have to deprive it from other students.
The better a teacher is, the more likely you’re not going to be able to have any personal interaction with that teacher.
You can find the rare exceptions but the system is well-designed to cut the interaction to the minimum.
This doesn’t apply so much out of the typical classroom environment
This article isn’t meant to attack teachers.
It’s not meant to say that teachers can never be good role models because they can be.
The point is to make sure you have a realistic outlook on the situation.
(Yes. The situation might be bleak. Look beyond your teachers. The world is loaded with good role models.)
Time To Stop Slacking And Get Cracking
Are you sick of muddling around in mediocrity?
Have you learned the hard way that the traditional (aka boring) approach is a horrible mistake?
Learning shouldn’t be painful. It’s natural and it will feel that way when you’re doing things right.
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