Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Problem with Comparing Teachers and Doctors

I wish I had something new and exciting to blog about today, but with four of the five days since my last blog being taken up by the Thanksgiving break, there's not much new to report. Then again, with news like this, who really needs to hear anything else?

So today I'm just going to share a quotation I found on another blog (I no longer remember which one; I track something like 20 edublogs and regularly read at least half a dozen a day). This quotation is attributed to Donald J. Quinn:

If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn't want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher's job.

"Without assistance" might be my favorite part of that quote. I know I've always longed for a secretary or an assistant, someone who can do some of the administrative work for me and/or be an extra pair of eyes, ears, and hands in the classroom. No one could countenance a surgeon or even a family physician in an office working without nurses, technicians, secretaries. I know I'm never going to get a secretary, but I can still dream, right?

All of the elected officials who claim that we need to be goaded, humiliated, and punished into helping children learn have aides, secretaries, and volunteers. None of them make their own phone calls, answer their own correspondence, type their own reports, at least not as a matter of course. Teachers do not only the heavy lifting of planning, delivering, and coordinating instruction, but every mundane task even tangentially related to our job. There is no one to whom these tasks can be delegated. Teachers are on their own.

This is nothing y'all don't know, of course, but it just serves to remind anyone who isn't a teacher that our jobs are not at all comparable to those of doctors or lawyers or corporate executives. And if you want to treat us like we are, then please bring on the private offices with the leather chairs and secretaries. I'm more than ready.
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