Sunday, October 18, 2009

Why I Don't Miss High School: More thoughts of feminism and children

So, while thinking further on children and feminism, and how they are inextricably linked, I gradually came to realize why I don't really like education systems as they are set up now.

Whenever I go home to Malaysia, I try to make it a point to visit my old high school. Partly to catch up with the teachers, let them know I'm still alive. Some of is it, although I don't miss high school, I still do feel some sense of loyalty towards it. Also, I tend to go in shorts andI guess I'm a little rebel who likes causing a fuss because the teachers are all like "OMG why are you in shorts! The headmistress will kick you out!"

I would occasionally chat with them about their job, and it turns out, Malaysian teachers, particularly government teachers, are ridiculously overworked and underpaid. Ain't that the truth for pretty much every oppressed class, eh. Besides having to teach the students, often 30 - 40 students in a class, they also have to attend other courses to keep them updated on changes in syllabi or just how to be better teachers, and they have to do a fuckton of administrative work too- filling out this or that form... to prove they're doing work.

WTF, right?

Ever since reading Herland, I realize that teachers don't get enough fucking credit for the job they do, which is, essentially, the job of Making People.

The adage "it takes a village to raise a child" is flipped on its head in our education systems, wherein it takes a few teachers to raise whole villages of children! On top of having to do other administrative work, too!

Isn't that unfair?

Being a teacher is really a calling. You've got to want to work with kids, and moreover, I think teachers really have to be creative in learning how to work with different kinds of children. However, our education systems aren't set up for teachers to have flexibility in dealing with the wide ranges of personalities in a single classroom.

In Herland, the educators are versed in a vast number of topics, especially child psychology. Education is a field in which all innovation springs from, because if it's good for the child, then it must be good for the adults, too.

And even if we say love is good for children, well, isn't love good for adults too?

Instead, we throw teachers with only so much love and patience and expect them to overstretch their mental and emotional resources with limited physical resources. There's a set syllabus which teachers must follow, and how well they did is reflected, apparently, in our standardized exams. They cannot explore their students anymore than they can explore alternative teaching methods, because there simply isn't enough time nor resources.

It's highly unfair. Because it's unfair to the teachers, it ends up being unfair to the students, who are supposed beneficiaries of our education system, and we all end up being victims as a result of this flawed system made by bureaucrats who are trying to churn out workers for to maintain an economy. They are not trying to Make People.

It's pretty fucking tragic, when I think about it.

1 comment:

  1. I admire anyone's hankering to visit their old school and teachers, particularly because I had a terrible time.

    Totally think that teachers are under-valued - pay-wise and general appreciation-wise. The troubling bit is that primary and early secondary school teaching is overwhelmingly taught by women - because women are supposed to have a natural flair with socialising children, especially the younger ones. It's the mothering aspect of teaching that people seem to perpetuate and expect from female teachers.

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