Zia Hassan

Falsehoods About Teachers As Portrayed On Tv Movies

+++ title = “10” date = 2018 +++

Maybe you’re a doctor who watches medical shows and throws the remote against the TV. Or maybe you’re a reporter who watches shows like The Newsroom. Hell, maybe you’re even a barista getting frustrated by watching the coffee-making employees at Central Perk on Friends. I can’t imagine what astronauts and scientists think about sci-fi shows.

For me, it’s being an educator and watching TV shows about teaching. There are so many tropes in shows about teaching that just don’t stack up to the reality of teaching. Here are a few myths

  1. **Teachers find kids annoying. **It’s a trope I’ve seen a lot in movies, especially, where the underlying feeling of a teacher toward their pupils is that of disgust and annoyance. Many of these teachers seem like they would like nothing more than to torture and punish their students, no matter what they did. The truth is that most teachers love their students. It’s not that they don’t get annoyed by certain behaviors, but they see the best in their students most of the time. They have to – it’s part of what it takes to do the job effectively.
  2. Teachers are the only ones who can save their troubled students. This one may the most overplayed trope. The idea of a teacher that’s going to walk into a classroom of wild and unruly kids, settle them completely with their incredibly engaging lectures and lesson ideas, and eventually set them straight on the path to college. This isn’t how it works. Yes, teachers are sometimes the only positive adults in some students’ lives, but that doesn’t mean that those adults will change or alter their paths and opportunities. No teacher sets out to change a student’s life – this is the by-product of a strong relationship. When it happens, it’s amazingly fulfilling to know that we played a role in it, but it wasn’t us who achieved anything – it was the student. We helped and we coached, but we didn’t make them pick up a pencil or do the writing. Furthermore, the change doesn’t happen right before our eyes when we teach. We show interest in the student and the student’s life, what makes them tick etc. We cultivate their self expression as best we can. And then one day they return to us as a high school senior who just got into their choice school. It’s not like Dead Poet’s Society.
  3. **Teachers are the only ones teaching. **It’s almost a misnomer to call us teachers or educators. Yes, we do teach lessons and give feedback. But all teachers, at least the ones I’ve met, think of themselves more as eternal learners. Every year, we’re presented with new people to learn, and they must study and do the best job they can of understanding these very intense and constantly changing minds and hearts. We do a little bit of teaching during the day and spend the rest of our time learning and reflecting. It’s not an exaggeration.

So maybe it’s impossible to capture all of this in a movie or TV show. Something of an episode nature is more focused on the short term hit, the payoff that happens within a few minutes or hours. Education is incompatible with this model and I wonder if the portrayal of teachers in TV/Movies is hurting the public perception of who teachers really are and what they do.