Monday, November 12, 2007

The Calling

Batya at Shiloh Musings writes about whether teaching is "a calling" and she's published a more extensive analysis as an op-ed right here. She claims it isn't actually a calling, but a profession.

While I agree with her overall sentiments, I think it's a little more complicated than that. Teachers in Israel, where Batya works, are embroiled in a strike movement. Batya (in striking contrast to UFT leadership) doesn't see giving management the moon and the stars as a viable option.

The problem, I think, is some who label teaching a "calling" feel that it therefore precludes consideration of salary and working conditions. Teachers who want more money are routinely reviled in the tabloids here, and perhaps Israeli papers are not much different. Still, we have to buy food for our kids and mend their tattered little clothes somehow. We're not ascetics, and we haven't taken vows of poverty.

Our jobs are important, and we touch a lot of young lives. We don't want to strike. But we're taken for granted in the city, and all our union knows how to do is give back and give back more (without even demanding cost of living in return).

Maybe teaching is a calling. Maybe it isn't. But our kids will be stuck with the world we leave them, and raising the standard for working people is the very least we can do, calling or no. Should we leave them a world in which oppressive employers like Green Dot can pretend their sham labor organizations are unions, or should we demand better?

Teaching may be a calling, and it may be a job. It's probably a combination of both. But it's a short-sighted teacher who doesn't understand that better working conditions and fair salaries benefit both us and our kids.
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