Teach­ers a mal­leable bunch

The Compass - - OPINION -

Dear edi­tor,

How sad it is to re­al­ize that New­found­land so­ci­ety has changed so very lit­tle when it comes to em­ployer/em­ployee re­la­tion­ships. But it’s par­tic­u­larly pa­thetic when that in­tim­i­da­tion ex­ists right in the midst of the very pro­fes­sion that pur­ports to be the pri­mary cat­a­lyst for change — the teach­ing pro­fes­sion, and the field of ed­u­ca­tion.

How could any young stu­dent be en­cour­aged by word and role mod­el­ling — both in­side the class­room set­ting and in ex­tra-cur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties — to de­velop strong moral prin­ci­ples when they know their very teach­ers are be­ing co­erced by their su­per­vi­sors at all lev­els, right up to the min­is­ter of ed­u­ca­tion, to not rock the boat.

All they will learn from such am­biance is that to get along, one must go along, and ig­nore all the prin­ci­ples of de­cency and en­ti­tle­ment with a hope — some­times very faint — that the gods may one day also smile on them as an in­di­vid­ual be­cause they too “played the game.”

There is cor­rup­tion ev­ery­where in vary­ing de­grees and those seeds will surely grow and pro­duce a most foul and odi­ous plant that will reek to the high heav­ens the longer it re­mains firmly rooted in the ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem.

It was only a few short years ago when Darin King, then di­rec­tor of the East­ern School District, pub­licly chas­tised two teach­ers and sus­pended them for dis­cussing stress, not in the class­room or on the pub­lic me­dia, but at a teach­ers’ fo­rum with their fel­low teach­ers.

Yes, at a fo­rum for teach­ers, which to me is com­pa­ra­ble to doc­tors dis­cussing med­i­cal stress at a doc­tors’ sem­i­nar. Can you imag­ine Vicki Kamin­ski say­ing, “ok, boys, that’s enough of that. Let’s fo­cus more on the gall blad­der re­moval via the bully but­ton pro­ce­dure.”

For too many decades, the teach­ing pro­fes­sion has been treated as a mal­leable group. Lay down the law from above and they will obey. We watched our teach­ers pen­sion pay­ments from Joey on­ward be­ing thrown into a melt­ing pot of gen­eral rev­enue while the con­cept of a fully funded pen­sion plan was not even dis­cussed.

We watched even the bu­reau­crats in the pen­sion and pay­roll of­fice play fast and loose with pen­sion cred­its. I know that for a fact be­cause I was a po­ten­tial vic­tim of it, wait­ing for an NTA ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, pres­i­dent or my MHA to come to my res­cue.

How fu­tile! I even had my union ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor try­ing to bar me from even dis­cussing the topic at a re­tire­ment con­fer­ence. Then to add to all this con­trol we had de­nom­i­na­tional school boards, each of which fought to put its brand­ing iron on our wretched bod­ies, while it laid out a moral course for this.

A course of in­doc­tri­na­tion that one must not ques­tion — but must pas­sively ac­cept — be­cause the Bi­ble tells us so. Well to­day, we have many cul­tural books of moral in­struc­tion in play which is a pos­i­tive be­cause their very mul­ti­ple ex­is­tence sym­bol­izes the fact that one’s re­li­gion is an in­di­vid­ual choice and not a mo­nop­oly on truth.

Yet, what kind of so­ci­ety are we still liv­ing in when we are trained to speak and think log­i­cally, and then are for­bid­den by this body or that body from do­ing so? The fish­er­men, with great help from the Coaker’s and the Cashin’s, threw off the fish mer­chant bur­den.

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