A Teacher's Monologue

(Texto en español: Monólogo)

If, as a teacher, they tell me that I cannot teach, thta I am not inspired by a vocation in teaching, who is to be held accountable: I, or those who - with al their knowledge and experience - accepted me and saw me move towards a career for which I am now told I am ill-equipped and incompatible.

If, as a teacher, I enjoy teaching, but am confronted with shortfalls others see within me, who should bear the liability: myself, or the institutions - with names, budgets, official seals and signatures - that certified my aptitude, accredited my studies, and furnished me with a diploma that decreed I was qualified to teach.

If, as a teacher, I am told that what I teach is obsolete, irrelevant for learners and long surpassed by new developments in science and technology, who is to be considered outdated: I, or those who design the curriculum, those who taught me what and how to teach, those who train me and propagate outmoded teaching and learning content, methodologies and approaches, often without consultation and lacking themselves essential knowledge on education policies and on school cultures.

If, as a teacher, I am accused of not facilitating learning, and am told that the results fall short of what should be, am I the only one who is at fault? Or should others, too, be held accountable, be required to share in the concern and in the solution: those who supervise and evaluate my work, those who are responsible for the continuing education of teachers and for teacher professionalization, those who are in charge of managing the school?

If I teach day after day, year after year, and they tell me that nothing I do or nothing that I have to give is enough  - not education, training, vocation, commitment, time and effort dedicated to teaching and to learning - where does the problem stem from? Does it lie in myself alone? Or should it be shared by those who restricted the opportunities for my own education, those who now deny me the possibility to continue learning, those who decided long ago that teaching was a profession for the poor and for the unambitious, deserving poor salaries and status, condemned to mediocrity and to limited access to books, specialized journals and the Internet, and yet expected to rejuvenate, each day, the mystique attributed to teaching and rarely to other professions.

Ladies and gentlemen: It is time to address the real issues and the real obstacles. Rather than part of the problem, I am part of the solution.

* Originally published in: Education News, No. 10, UNICEF Education Cluster, New York, November 1994. Also published by Education International in its journal, Vol. 2, N° 2-3. Brussels, 1996.

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