By Anthony Stewart, PhD

The individual is called Miss or Sir and if we attended school somewhere at some time, we sat at their feet to learn. While each teacher aspires to have students outperform them, instead as students we may have tried to outsmart them. As adults, we seem not to have learned our lesson and continue to try to outsmart our teachers. Some of us will discover that “our sin is sure to find us out”.

While some try to learn by copying others’ work, it is the least recommended method. We would have come to understand that plagiarism has consequences.

When we are not satisfied with our grade, we argue to justify the wrong answer. Nevertheless, certainly seven is not greater than ten. We refused a salary increase of about 12% to grasp at the empty promised straw of 30%. Eventually we had to settle for a salary freeze and much later a 1% increase.

Always aspiring to achieve more and also for upward mobility and a career path, many teachers qualify themselves in order to be on the cutting edge of learning only to have their aspirations dashed when the judge described the apparent operational policy of the authorities. The judge ruled that there is no fair system of seniority, promotion and appointment. Since that ruling, there is no apparent change of policy or practice. Consequently some continue to ignore the Meritocracy of the Education Revolution and make appointments “Willy nilly.”

Rather than facilitating teaching, many seem to be bent on making the task of the teacher more difficult. For all intents and purposes, corporal punishment is outlawed from schools and there is no apparent successful replacement disciplinary measure. The objective of disciplinary measures are to help students to adopt the two school rules:

Be respectful

Be responsible

Any teacher who dares to administer corporal punishment is required to document the “crime” in the presence of a true witness using a prescribed weapon in a particular place (the crime scene), and record the “offence” in a punishment book that may be subpoenaed by a court of law as evidence of the “guilt” and to aid in determining the length of the sentence.  

This is the consequence of the phrase in the Education Act, which allows corporal punishment only “as a last resort.” I contend that “last resort” is not attainable and is therefore an apparent veritable trap for teachers.

A Collective Agreement was signed with teachers to allow them to participate in the political process and become lawmakers without jeopardizing their current jobs. Even if it was simply a gentleman’s agreement, it deserves to be honoured. However, it is more than that. Alass another attempt was being made to outsmart teacher again by students who said that the agreement was only aspirational. The judge, however, was not in agreement and ruled that the collective agreement was valid. However, justice is yet to be served for the three teachers who took leave to contest elections and were not reinstated according to the collective agreement. Any man who is worth his salt would stand by his word. We look forward with great anticipation for justice to be seen to be done.

Are teachers being asked to “stand up and take their licks like a man?”

Verbal and physical abuse by students

Underpayment

Appointment to grades lower than their qualifications

Devaluing of their credentials by lower wages

Overlooking them for persons of lesser knowledge, qualifications and experience

It is hard enough that teachers are being asked to “make bricks without straw,” more so since the advent of the Education Revolution. However, the straw that breaks the teachers’ back is the attempt to take away their dignity. Teachers used to be among the most respected persons in their community. They preached in their local churches, wrote official letters, love letters, recommendations, led community organizations, and served as character witnesses. Shouldn’t teachers be the best persons to endorse passport pictures and birth paper application forms of their past students?

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