Doesn’t this sound ridiculous?

If not, I am slightly worried.

I have come across children, parents and others who seem to think that teachers should know everything but I really can’t understand why! I’m sure there’s nobody on Earth who claims to know everything.

Teachers don’t need to know everything. To name a few things they need to be: –

One of the most important things is for us all to manage the expectations of adults and children. One way we can do this is by saying “I don’t know but I can find out for you” or “I don’t know but can you find out and tell us all when you do?” or “I want to think about how to explain this to you. I’ll come back to you later”. The latter may be necessary when a child asks a question and we know the answer but we need to think about how it’s delivered, explained, we may need tools/resources etc.

  • organised,
  • be able to manage children,
  • make learning fun,
  • revise material if need be,
  • deliver this material using different strategies to reach all the children,
  • take into account that the children process information differently and vary in their strengths and weaknesses

I have come across many people who have judged myself and others; snarling about something ‘a teacher’ doesn’t know. However, we like everyone else, are human beings with different strengths and weaknesses. You may be better at maths than me. That doesn’t mean I can’t teach it or that I teach it poorly.

Would you believe that the last time I thought about the square root of a number was when I was in secondary school? From what I recall I’ve not thought about it since. Thus when a friend was talking to me about how she couldn’t believe that tutee didn’t know what it was; I found myself thinking about what it was, wondering why I didn’t know and worrying that I should know. I know, it’s fine to not know or not be able to recall something I’ve not used for over a decade! However, in that moment, I felt quite intimidated by my lack of knowledge.

I guess I’m saying that there’s a lot of pressure on teachers to: –

  • perform,
  • raise standards,
  • work with parents who are very difficult/confrontational,
  • ‘take’ verbal abuse,
  • manage unruly behaviour,
  • keep from restraining a child even if others are in danger,
  • monitor changes in children,
  • look out for child protection issues,
  • keep up to date with changes in policy every time the government feels like messing with the education system again…..

And I could go on!

There’s so much to think about and do without putting ourselves or being put under undue pressure, with this unrealistic notion that we should know everything!

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Sagar · July 27, 2009 at 12:32 am

It is simply convenient to expect teachers to know everything, because it takes away some of the burden of responsibility from the parent to have to fill in any gaps. It is far easier to place the burden on the teacher rather than take the time to think about what they’re expecting – because if they did they’d realise that teachers are just as human as they are and are more than just daytime baby sitters!!

    Heena Modi · July 27, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    How come you think this way? Most people don’t!
    Do you know many teachers or are do you just hold a different perspective?

Donald Watson · August 10, 2009 at 1:52 pm

Interesting post… and your right in saying that teachers can’t be expected to know everything! I’m sure parents like the idea of passing the buck onto the teachers but c’mon, let’s get real, teachers are there to teach not take the blame for some parents kid that says the teachers not doing his or her job well enough!! Let’s give the teachers a break for once…

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