What I’m about to say may shock many of you, especially if you think your grandchildren or adult children are angels. A teacher at a prestigious Victorian school resigned after a video of her expletive-ridden rant was shared on social media and caused a storm of protest.
Evidently the students who were sworn at have been provided with support and opportunities for counselling from the school’s wellbeing team. Really, I ask?
I have taught for many years in both state-run and private high schools. The majority of those students swear constantly in the schoolyard, many times in class and perhaps by year 12, which was the cohort that was sworn at, it is just a part of their everyday vernacular.
Why do they need counselling? Are they so sensitive that words they throw at their classmates and, often, their teachers can cause enormous grief and existential angst. Give me a break.
I feel sorry for the poor teacher. The class is facing the lead-up to their final exams, they have handed in essays that seemingly don’t just amount to poor writing, but extreme inaccuracies and with little attempt from the students to acquaint themselves with the text they have been studying all year.
According to a transcript of the video, many students confused main characters in texts with the wrong indigenous group, wrongly identified the era when the novels were set and the wrong country. Goodness knows how those ideas were presented, or poorly phrased.
The teacher’s voice comes over as one extremely frustrated with the lack of academic rigour displayed by her class. She is teaching at a prestigious school that values it ATAR scores and rankings across the state. It charges very large fees and with those fees comes a huge parental expectation that the students will achieve high scores. That is the pressure this teacher is under. She also comes across as someone who actually cares about her students’ work.
I am not condoning her use of swear words, though she does seem to use them with great passion and emphasis. But this sounds to me like a teacher who does care about her students and who has been pushed to the edge of her sanity by sometimes entitled students who think the world will fall into their laps without any real effort. And who then have a convenient scapegoat, i.e. the teacher, when it doesn’t happen.
I also am appalled that this video was distributed by social media, with all the legal and ethical ramifications of that action.
Teachers are always held to such high expectations, regardless of the pressures they face and the behaviour of their students. Very few professions in the world have this burden of expectation and this lack of forgiveness for a lapse in judgement.
Do you think today’s teachers face enormous pressures? Are students today far more difficult to ‘handle’ than when you were at school? Share your views in the comments section below.
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