Date: Oct 12, 2012 2:31 PM
Author: Paul A. Tanner III
Subject: Re: US teachers are overworked and underpaid

On Fri, Oct 12, 2012 at 11:22 AM, kirby urner <> wrote:
> On Thu, Oct 11, 2012 at 9:18 PM, Paul Tanner <> wrote:

>> On Fri, Oct 12, 2012 at 12:03 AM, GS Chandy <> wrote:

>> > The 'Education Debate':
>> >
>> > Paul A. Tanner III (and others on his side of the debate) claim that US
>> > teachers - comparing them with teachers in Japan, Finland, etc - are
>> > severely overworked and hugely underpaid.

> Is it that they're overworked or worked in the wrong ways?
> I'm guessing a Japanese teacher would take umbrage at the notion they work
> "less hard", likewise a Finnish teacher.
> Paul has been talking about hours in the classroom as a measure, whereas in
> Japan, a faculty member is expected to spend more time discussing and
> crafting curriculum.
> In my book, crafting curriculum is an important responsibility of any
> teacher and if I can't find any resources you worked on, if you have no
> portfolio, then I will have a harder time thinking of you as a teacher.
> If all you do is get in front of the classroom and hold forth, then I might
> think of you as an actor, and not a teacher.
> Because the curriculum used in North America is so ridiculously out of date,
> so bereft of essential nutrients (much like the fast food diet), it's all
> the more important that the real teachers among them start redesigning the
> curriculum pronto.
> Relying on vapid, unimaginative, risk-averse, textbooks is not only
> guaranteed to churn out more people with mediocre skills and abilities, it's
> downright lazy.
> In other words, I would argue that "teachers" who only hold forth in the
> classroom, but do no curriculum design, are actually working *less hard*
> than those who design curriculum.
> They're also shirking a core responsibility.
> They've been manipulated out of doing a credible job. They are not really
> teachers, just glorified textbook presenters and day care providers
> (institutionalized clowns charged with providing minor innocuous
> entertainment in a society that wants to "socialize" its young people in
> large prison-block like buildings).
> In short, if you don't help design curriculum for your school, you're closer
> to a lazy-good-for-nothing than a teacher. You should fight to get your
> real job back.
> Kirby

You make good points and of course I have meant overworked in terms of teaching time load.

Yes, in some ways creating curriculum could be said to be harder work than actually dealing with tons of disruptive kids and their parents.

(I said it this way to make a point, that yes, it really is the case for instance that by some measure a CEO works harder than those who actually sweat doing labor under a hot sun because the CEO is doing more creative work than the manual laborer, but by at least one measure it's the opposite because of the the physical stress of the labor job.)

That is, with respect to the "disruptive kids and their parents" remark, if you think that actually dealing with hard-to-deal-with kids and their parents all of whom a teacher has to call and all of whom are not particularly happy to hear negative things about their kids - especially over and over again - is not supremely stressful: At one of the secondary schools in which I taught, this school known in the district as one of the more difficult schools in terms of much classroom disruption, one of the teachers was actually granted sick leave because of the supreme stress of trying to deal with so very many kids so very out-of-control.

I mean, what would be the new hire five-year turn-over rate for those who would be hired to create curriculum? Would it be as high as the new teacher turnover rate in the US, as many as 50% or so gone by the time five years is up?

The classroom disruption problem I just talked about is of course not the only reason for such high turnover, with the massive amounts of time that it kills both during contracted work hours and after school hours (teachers are expected to cal these parents even after school hours). These other aspects would include such as the massive amounts of both academic-based and discipline-based paperwork that follows from having to deal with so many more kids kids these teachers in these top-performing countries of Korea, Finland, and Japan have to deal with. (If for example you teach only three one-hour courses per day, it's quite a bit less of that type of paperwork than if you have to teach five or six such courses per day.)

Message was edited by: Paul A. Tanner III