Scallywag

The courage to be is the courage to accept oneself, in spite of being unacceptable.

~ Paul Tillich ~

Beware: Bad Teacher

November 9th, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 32 secs

Nobody deserves a bad teacher.

I think everyone has experienced a bad teacher somewhere. The language teacher who berated you and acted like a dictator. The elementary school teacher who picked on you in front of everyone, and the aggressive senior teacher who yelled abuse at you, leaving you feeling smaller than you ever thought possible. They are all there, captured forever in our memories.

Sadly, there will always be the bad teacher to bother someone. They are hard to root out. Because, like bullies, their behavior pops in and out of existence in ways that conceal them.

Not only that, systems make it tricky to weed them out. More confusingly, some students can suffer at the hands of somebody they recognize as a bad teacher, whilst many of their classmates don’t even see it. “Bad” can be hard thing to measure when it’s expressed in contempt.

Incidentally, students can torture and torment teachers too. By being abusive, they can control what their teachers do. I suspect this happens a lot with older teens in Western countries. But despite its prevalence, I don’t think the world is ready to discuss it…yet.

Bad teachers, by contrast, are a much easier target, and for good reason. We naturally expect somebody educated and adult to do the job well. So, it’s alarming when they elevate disdain above everything else.

Everybody has a tale to tell about a bad teacher they had in their schooling that made their lives a living misery. It’s a tragedy. To think that kids get put off learning by the very people meant to help them. Surely, we shouldn’t tolerate that.

Like all professions, there are good ones and bad. While, working with teens or children certainly amplifies those traits, For example, when 30 kids are clamoring for attention together, a bad teacher predictably won’t handle it well. Yet, stressful as it is, a good teacher will take it in their stride with skills to handle it in their kit bag.

I’ve heard and seen a few disturbing things over the years, as a student (way back when), as a teacher, and as a rehabilitation counselor. Based on these experiences, I have compiled a profile of what makes a bad teacher. As you read, see if you agree with me.

Bad teachers:

  • Seem to come in two types – those who despise children, and those who are ignorantly incompetent
  • Educators who hate kids often have a sadistic streak, or, are in a state of mental distress. The latter vent fury to students as a maladaptive coping mechanism resulting from personal loss.
  • Incompetent teachers are often whiny, small thinking, and promote closed-mindedness and anti-learning strategies.
  • Hostile teachers are skilled bullies who either ingratiate themselves with parents or peers to hide their behaviors. Consequently, children are particularly prone to such abuse because it’s hard to pick and no laws are broken. Yet, anyone who has ever suffered such trauma at the hands of a bad teacher will remember every detail tens of years later.

Thankfully, troubling teachers are definitely the exception. It’s harder for a bad teacher to get away with quite so much these days, as students feel more empowered to speak about their behavior.

If you have etched memories from a bad teacher experience years ago, can I suggest it’s time to let it go? Not for their sake, but your own. Forgiving isn’t consent, but about releasing yourself from the soreness you still feel. Remember: it’s your life, after all. Within it, you have the authority to make the realm of your thoughts a safer, happier place.

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