Remember those teachers who stood and flicked the lights for ten seconds to make sure everyone was standing at attention before they deigned to walk into the room? I suspect that demanding respect would be less common if teachers felt more secure in their own right to be in the front of the classroom. Like, if they were actually qualified and educated, instead of merely a few years older.
I remember the first time I really questioned the training our teachers get. I was in 11th grade. And there was a familiar face back in school. It was a student who had been in 12th grade when I was 9th. She had been an excellent student, a favorite of all the teachers, but still — she was teaching 9th grade Chumash?! I still don’t know why my mind recoils. Did I really think any of my teachers had further training than seminary and a love of learning? What would make her qualified, in my mind? I don’t know.
Anyway, this story is via Rachel, but from her sister.
My 8th grade biology teacher doesn’t have a B.A. in biology. Or any science. She has a teaching certificate from [redacted: a local teaching] seminary.
Her lack of qualification in biology is glaringly obvious. She is basically one chapter ahead in the book, which isn’t always far enough. She reads some paragraphs straight out, because it’s easier than regurgitating them, I guess. She mispronounces words and mixes concepts up.
Most of us probably wouldn’t know better, except the goody-goody who reads the chapters ahead every week, but then there’s also our local class science nerd. You know that girl? The one who reads this stuff for fun, at home. Has a shelf full of “Did you know? Nature!” books and “The Pop-Up Book of the Human Body” and things like that. And she knows more about ecology and the operation of the heart than the entire class — and the teacher — put together.
And sitting through biology class pains her. You can see the torture reflected in her face with each mispronounced word, and with each mangled fact. Sometimes, she can’t help herself. She just has to raise her hand and correct the teacher. I mean, she can’t reteach the entire class during recess. And, okay, this happens around once a week.
The teacher doesn’t exactly love being corrected. So when she gets sick of being corrected by someone six years younger than her, she stands up and gives a lecture about chutzpah instead. That, at least, is a subject she can warm to without fear of contradiction.
“A morah is more qualified and knows more than her talmidos,” she says sternly from behind the desk. “You do not contradict your elders.”
Nobody contradicts her, but we all know she’s wrong.