Trainer Narratives We Should Discard Instantly

Narratives are everywhere in the classroom. Some are proverbs spread by teachers (“Be firm but kind”). Others are maxims written on holiday cards by parents (“Apprenticeship creates all other professions.”). Some are proverbs pasted onto a PowerPoint slide by administrators at faculty meetings (“The good teacher explains; the great teacher inspires.”)

However, as Reddit user u/nattwunny pointed out in a recent post, not all teacher narratives are worth keeping. Many of them perpetuate harmful ideas about our unreasonable expectations of teachers.

Some need a language change. Some need context. And some are outright negative.

u/nattwunny starts the conversation with five teacher stories and describes why they are problematic.

We’ve only included a snippet of justification for each, but for the full comment, read the original post here.

“It’s such a shame that teachers have to buy their own materials.”

“I don’t buy ‘my’ supplies. I’ll buy yours.”

“Students don’t learn from teachers they don’t like.”

“You can’t get a child to like you more than you can get a romantic interest to love you. They have autonomy, their own range of (wildly fluctuating) emotions, and a most immature barometer of ‘nice/mean’ or ‘funny/boring’ or ‘good/bad’ or ‘useful/useless’.”

“If they’re not paying attention, you’re not keeping them busy” or “If they’re bored, you’re boring”

“I can’t keep up with entertainment. No matter how much cheese you put on broccoli, it still won’t beat cheese without broccoli.”

“Our job is to make them love [subject]”

“Our job is to instill in them value that goes beyond superficial indulgence.”

“Students actually crave discipline/structure”

“We have to ensure stability, predictability and structure. They won’t “love us for it” – certainly not at the time. They will much later appreciate the skills and strategies that helped them uncover. …”

u/nattwunny definitely struck a chord with other Redditors on r/Teachers. Others soon chimed in, praising the OP and sharing the narratives they wished would go away forever.

“A teacher destroyed my desire to learn.”

There are bad apples at work, that’s for sure. But blaming a single teacher for a lifetime’s shattered potential is far-fetched.

“School could have taught me [valuable skill]but all they taught me was [info I’d never use].”

“Did they teach you to read? Did they teach you basic arithmetic? Can you transfer numbers from one sheet of paper to another sheet of paper? Then they taught you how to do your taxes.”

“We are a family.”

Too often this is armed as “Light unpaid work like a family business” rather than “We will support you with whatever you need”.

“Children don’t understand sarcasm.”

Damned. news for me.

“[Student] just doesn’t get along with female teachers.”

I can’t wait to use the same excuse at my next PD session. “Sorry, I can’t learn anything from people with mustaches. Or pocket squares.”

The “Customer Service” educational model.

Aaaaand cue my blood pressure rise.

What narrative about teaching do you reject? Let us know in the comments.

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