Blame, boundaries and ‘hating teachers’

Annaleise brings to our attention an article from the US “Why do Americans love to blame teachers?”  I suspect any of us with an interest in education, or simply reading the local newspapers, have seen similar in our own countries.

What I found most interesting was the comments about  ‘calling’:

In the early 1800s, reformer Catharine Beecher argued that young women with a missionary calling should replace male teachers who were “intemperate … coarse, hard, unfeeling men, too lazy or stupid” to teach

In the field of psychology we are discouraged from seeing our occupation as a ‘calling’ since it can create havoc with healthy boundaries. It doesn’t mean psychologists are less committed, it is more an effort to not take on responsibility for the client outcomes whilst still maintaining responsibility for our own professionalism.

I can see a difference in my practice from when I was a young psychologist to now. I don’t care less, I simply care differently. Maybe a similar emphasis might be helpful in education since currently there does seem to be a popular tendency to make teachers accountable for ‘all things’ including many that are totally beyond their control.  And some teachers contribute to the situation by caring too deeply and not wisely.

To me a ‘calling’ is to care passionately about what I do and have a deep desire to act on that passion.  However the way that calling is expressed has changed over the years as I have matured and learnt better ways of implementing my passion.  I feel both my clients and myself have benefited as a result.

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I also found this article as helpful on the topics of boundaries:

Frankel, Ze’ev • Holland, Jason M. • Currier, Joseph M. . 2012. “Encounters with Boundary Challenges: A Preliminary Model of Experienced Psychotherapists’ Working Strategies.” Journal of contemporary psychotherapy 42 (2): 101-112.

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One thought on “Blame, boundaries and ‘hating teachers’

  1. Hi Tracey,

    I’ve been meaning to comment on this post as I found it very insightful as it expressed some of my frustrations with how teaching is conceptualised. I would often hear teachers refer to teaching as a calling, and then will see them sacrifice a lot of their life, even health and family, to their job.

    I didn’t know that in psychology they dissuaded practitioners from seeing their role as a calling and it makes sense.

    I agree that it does take wisdom to know the difference and is something that I could only learn through experience. It sounds like you developed a role that was more in alignment with the lifestyle you wanted. That is my goal as well. 🙂

    Thanks again, a great post.

    Annelise

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