Dr. Gerald Juhnke of the University of Texas quoted in a Des Moines Register article concerning teacher killings illustrates just how far out of touch many college professors are with modern educational problems when he calls teaching a “peaceful profession.” It was a peaceful profession when I started in 1970 it is not peaceful any longer. Teachers are being hit from all sides by , politicians who have never been in a classroom setting policies whose impact they neither understand or about which they apparently do not care, administrators reacting to the NCLB with on time on task and on curriculum decrees that deny the very nature of children, parents who cannot or will not see beyond the end of their own or their children’s short term needs and desires, and finally children who are imbued almost from birth with instant gratification, a no compromise attitude, and pervasive violence in the media, the news and even their own homes that validates their violent behaviors.
Teaching is not a profession for gentle souls although most teachers are gentle and compassionate. It is now a rough and tumble series of problems that must be solved not in isolation but in the presence of 30 other children many of whom will have the same or a different set of problems. When I started teaching you might have one serious behavior problem a week now it is often one each period of the day.
It is very difficult to be fearful and a teacher at the same time. When a kid threatens to burn down your house or poison your dog, as I have experienced, and follows it up with a recitation of your address you have to pay attention. But the truth is, If you want to have any chance at all of teaching that kid you have to be able to look them in the eye without fear or the battle is already lost.
I used to honestly believe that if I kid threatened you or attempted violence against you, that as a teacher it was your fault for letting them believe that they could even think about doing that, I no longer believe that is true.
Our schools and our teachers are not responsible for the ills of our society it is exactly the opposite that is true.