Monday, August 20, 2018

I Cannot Teach Those Girls


Teachers wages are not comparable to other professions when you compare stress and what teachers have to cope with today to stay in teaching. What wage would balance teaching conditions and stress?


An interesting article in the Australian today claiming that ”teacher’s work is worth $100,000”. I agree with them. And that’s just on a professional level – that doesn’t even begin to calculate the danger money that I, personally, would require to spend each day in a classroom with 24-odd kids. Much as I adore the little darlings.

The article compares the salary of senior level teachers (at a top rate of $75,367) with the salary level of lawyers after six years ($125,800). And, with due respect to lawyers, I take the point. After all, the education of our kids affects their entire life and, to a certain extent, influences the direction of our nation. It’s important stuff.

Perhaps they should have a better system of bonus payments, rather than seeking hefty across-the-board increases. It could be calculated on a range of achievements including academic improvement, teamwork, courtesy, fostering school spirit and so forth. I mean let’s face it – school parents all know who the fantastic teachers and who the not-quite-so-enthusiastic teachers are in their child’s school. Those fantastic teachers should be rewarded above and beyond a small annual pay rise.

It all comes down to funding, doesn’t it. And unless we want to privatise our schools, or attract corporate sponsorship with the inherent conflicts of interest that that can create, where does the money come from? 

How much do you think your child’s teacher should be paid, and would you support a performance bonus?

…………………………What is a Teacher Worth????

In Australia, the lack of respect for teachers, and the verbal abuse a teacher has to take from some students, make teaching a far from attractive job, regardless of the wage.

I left Australia 5 years ago to teach in Korea. Originally a 1 year contract turned into 5 years in Korea and China because Teaching, even though lesser paid in comparison to here, was marvellous. The students want to learn, were respectful and came to school to learn.

I only returned because my passport ran out, and I needed to get a new one, which was not easy to do from Korea or China. I stayed 6 months teaching back in Australia, because the money was good, but I found as a person, I was being slowly destroyed.

I took an Outback position, for the money and the house that came with the job, as my belongings had been in storage for 5 years and I also had no home here. I loved my house, I loved teaching Art, and I am an excellent art teacher. However the senior students doing ‘Child Development’ and ‘Home Economics’ did not really want to learn. They were doing these subjects because they are not academic, and schooling is compulsory.

From the very beginning, they objected to my rules. No speaking during lessons, no bad language, no throwing things around the room. no shouting and no throwing tantrums and walking out banging doors to ‘tell the Principal’. They came to school and class late, often hung over, smelling of cigarettes, and used the mobile phones for constant texting and playing music.

Report after report did not work. I was told I am the professional and I have to solve it. I was told to ignore their behavior and teach. So I ran lessons with one girl mouthing off about not learning anything, about their sex life, men's orgasms, and  their private business. Telling them to stop talking only brought back the comment, “This is my business,’ and saying this was disrupting the class did nothing.

Often they would call me names and walk off, usually to answer the phone in the toilets.

It was horrendous.

I survived outright verbal abuse everyday as the same girls were in every class as they took all my subjects. Believe me it was difficult to take, and the pay check looked weaker and weaker. I went through ways of working out how to kill myself, and decided lying in front of the train in the dark after taking pills, was the sure way to go. I decided setting fire to myself in the Art Room was not fair on the students I did like.

Then I went away for a week and saw normal people, and suddenly realised what was happening to me. I was a tense ball of sadness. My self worth was below zero, and I was killing myself for $3,000 less tax and etc, $1,600 a fortnight. Living on the dole, senior pension or doing casual teaching, cooking or whatever seemed a better life.

Then I discovered House-sitting and found a house to live in for a few months.

Today is my first day as an unemployed. I have no idea where I am heading but its not back to the school I was teaching at.

To quote my own words written in a report “I cannot teach those girls”

The final straw was accusing me of being a racist and claiming I made racist comments. Anyone looking at my past can see I lived in Aboriginal Communities for 8 years, and one does not do that being a racist.

Teaching is still a noble profession, but its too difficult today, coping with the stresses students bring to school. Senior students are living adult lives, and cannot cope with rules that stop them being adults.

No, I am not suing the system because I could not handle students who were not at school to learn. I am renewing my passport and returning Overseas next year or sooner as soon as the House-sit is over. I cannot teach those girls and be abused every single day constantly like  water eroding rock. It is far too demoralising.

Teachers do a job that no-one else can do, and good teachers are destroyed by the system.

This year, a mature aged first year teacher, resigned, after barely 3 months teaching, for the same reasons as me. A student hit her in the face and hurt her and the students laughed.  Another teacher had her chair pulled out from under her, and students laughing when she got hurt. I did not get physically abused, but the mental abuse was there every day, every class, and every lesson. Students who want to learn are also exposed to this abuse, as they are also in the classroom.

Until the system improves, and a Drop Out Centre is created for these students, who do not want to come to school, teachers have to constantly battle to teach those who want to learn

An alternative is of course to enroll in my Online virtual school, and get an education that way, with 20 hours compulsory in a week with a focus on basic learning skills of English, Maths and Creative subjects.

This is where I am set up the Virtual School for the very students who refused to learn from me in the Government system.

Teaching is not easy. Those who can go into other jobs, which is a pity as Teachers are born not made, and there are many good teachers out here now out of the system, because they cannot cope with the students they were forced to teach.

Maggi Carstairs

About the Writer

Photographer and traveller, now retired on a small Island in Moreton Bay Queensland where I photograph birds and live a peaceful life with books and the Garden...
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6 comments on I Cannot Teach Those Girls

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By Cheri on July 27, 2009 at 09:31 am

I can feel Maggi's frustration and anxiety with trying to teach these errant girls something of value.  I don't know when parents went astray in raising their children to respect and behave in school, but this is a common refrain among teachers today.

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By Lucy Ong on July 28, 2009 at 05:07 pm

Ladymaggic, I feel your pain and salute you. Here's what California, and far too many other states, think about the worth of teachers;  California Also Trades-off Educators For Prison Guards

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By Ladymaggic on July 28, 2009 at 07:00 pm

I just read Lucy's Article...and wrote this reply

This is so interesting...shows how little teachers are valued today.

When I first started teaching in the 60's, it was a hallowed profession, and one of the top professions, highly respected and valued,  and one I was proud to be a part of. I walked tall and proud as 'The Teacher'.

Today sadly Education is not valued and the wages show this too. Teachers are crowd controllers and maybe should be provided with tools and an uniform, and appropriate training. I did ask a crowd controller not that long ago, how to handle a physical threat, and he told me to use my hands flat in front of my chest to show I was unarmed and not aggressive, and I have been doing that when accosted be aggressive students wanting to start trouble.

Who wants to be a teacher???????

Maybe Online Schools and Classes will be the next step for those wanting an education, as the real classroom teaches more than the curriculum, and is becoming a battleground between those who don't want to learn and 'the others'.

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By Ladymaggic on July 28, 2009 at 07:14 pm

Sorry Morgana, and thanks Craig....I did not read the owner properly...just clicked on the link Lucy added...

This is another article I wrote last year..

I try to not teach, but keep going back, because I love teaching, and its what I know well, and it is my life.

Sad, isn't it?

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By Credo on July 28, 2009 at 07:57 pm

Experiences such as yours are great treasures, cherished by those of us who not only can relate to them, but who learn from them. Professional teachers deserve obviously much more than professional athletes; I figure society as a whole can do ok without sports but it wouldn't survive very long without good teachers, nor without the essential education that they provide. However some children today haven't the poise to learn with respect and the formalities of good communication. On top of that the educational institution needs a boost of good enthusiastic teachers like yourself who can motivate the desire to learn within children, but it also requires good parental supervision to assist that motivation. If all of the pieces come together things usually work themselves out.

This is a very important piece of literature, great work!


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By Ladymaggic on August 09, 2009 at 01:34 am
I think the issue is with upbringing as the Children in Asia are brought up by Grandparents who make the time to devote themselves to the Children whilst the mothers work. They have time to be patient, and also they love the children a lot...physical touch and cuddling and lots of TLC. Small families (one in China) ensure the children get lots of individual attention. Then the value for Education. Koreans pay extra, and often huge fees, to send students to Hagwans and afterschool centres and the students study and study for up to 16 hours a day, and weekends too. They know they have to pass and that when they go for a job they compete with thousands, and a good pass is important. Here, they don't hold the same views and Education is not a prized commodity. Its seen as compulsory and a place to go to until students can go on the dole. I feel sorry for the serious students who have to also sit in these classes, and they somehow get along too. The Asian love of learning is what makes them so special to teach.
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