There is something I recommend other teachers whenever I am giving seminars about motivation in this profession and stuff like that. I mention it here because few people agree with it 😀 I believe the fastest way to see advances and improvements is through limited contact with existing systems… In other words, I had no idea what racism was when I was little… and when I say little I mean I didn’t grasp the concept until I was 12 years old. It was (and still is) a boring construction for a kid who grew up with Michael Jackson as his favorite singer or Bruce Lee as his favorite movie star… Understanding racism as a philosophical or cultural phenomenon was only necessary to get some jokes in movies and to know what’s all the fuzz about, so to speak 🙂 But it is an otherwise artificial and boring concept for me.
Now comes the tricky part… I do the same with everything else, including academic systems and that’s precisely what I recommend in my seminars. The benefit is that if you stay original you are a source of “new” ideas… or at least your common sense isn’t tainted by habit, tradition or any other burden caused by expectations. The disadvantage is that you go through a career maze without a map or a lantern (the Zelda reference is painfully obvious)
Did you know that students in some Eastern European countries are required to stand up when the teacher enters the room? Did you know in the Baltics it’s common courtesy to allow teachers to jump the queue in the cafeteria? Did you know in Northern Europe it’s common for students to eat during the classes? Anddddd…. Did you know I couldn’t care less about any of those things? 😀 Neither should you… I want my students sitting normally when I arrive to a class, I won’t die for waiting 5 more minutes in the queue of the cafeteria and I certainly don’t mind if people are having a Twix while I explain a subject… anything that doesn’t require fork and knife is fine with me…
Married men are seen as more stable, dyslexics are automatically shortlisted with the “2 ticks” program, the right answer for “your biggest defect” should be: “I am too much of a perfectionist”, having volunteered with the Red Cross gives you a positive aura of solidarity and any hobby involving teamwork indicates you fit well as a team player in a prospective department… Easy trick to publish in important journals? The Holocaust… Few people have guts to reject an article about that horrible tragedy, since it could easily backfire.
Yes, I know all these things and many more… 🙂 But, as teachers, do we really wish to work or collaborate in institutions and departments that value these childish things over merits and achievements? It might sound tempting at first… “Dude! If we know the right keys to press why can’t we press them to advance?” The answer is simple… you wouldn’t be “advancing”, you would be selling your soul. You wouldn’t be the smart academic who plays with the elements of the system as puppets… You would actually become part of the problem instead of the solution. In the long run, your ethics and your moral high ground are more valuable than a couple of extra contracts… It’s not about beautiful ideals… It’s about protecting who you are as a teacher and as a human being.
Wow… this stuff sounded so serious… anyway kids, SAY NO TO PANDERING AND STAY TRUE TO YOUR ETHICS! 😀