What has teaching become?

When, in 1999, I chose education, this word had still a meaning... I tried hard during years to raise a generation of young people, to give them the ways to understand this world, to cultivate them. Certainly, I am not fooled, few of them became linguists, researchers in English, even; simply Anglicists... But, like it or not, I tried to bring them a little of culture, knowledge... All went out of my classes knowing who Shakespeare, Butler, Turner, Hemingway were. What the Apartheid was, the situation in India, the problems met by society whether it be is English-speaking or not... I taught them linguistics, history, literature... I believed in what I was doing... I, as a mere English teacher I gave everything, all the time... Then, there was an idea that ALL the children of France could receive a good education, I believed in it wholeheartedly.... I wanted to raise them higher than me, make them better than me, to bring them a political, cultural consciousness, tell them, that to be a responsible citizen it was necessary to develop its critical mind, that, to be free, it was necessary to be able to choose... Teaching appeared to me then as the SACRED WAY to reach this goal... Since then, I do not evaluate knowledge anymore, I estimate skills... Skills based not on culture but on the capacity to realize a task... It appears maybe, seen from the outside as having not much importance, as being more centred on the reality of the world of today.... Some people tell me that knowing how to write a letter in support of application will be more useful that knowing about the problems between the Catholics and the Protestants in Scotland today, that all this is not important in the working world.... If this has become my job today, training potential good employees, to whom would be lacking, regrettably, the knowledge, the consciousness, the critical mind... Then, I am of no use... Today in 2013, the inspectors support me that grammar is secondary, that the purpose is being understood.... And if, if, it were the same thing in French?, If all the future French citizens spoke the language only to be understood?.... I think, as a linguist, lover of the languages, that the shortage of vocabulary, and means of expression, and thinking lead to violence... Not being able to understand what surrounds us, what happens to us, if we let the the media put us to sleep, if we let society become based on over consumption, in my opinion then, it cannot be the basis of a healthy society... Today I doubt the legitimacy of our school... Not that we are not competent, but by the fact that we are forced not to be .... It is not so much the training of the teachers that it is necessary to reform, it is all the curriculum... A colleague yesterday told me, " Today I was a presenter, a language assistant but not a teacher "... God he was right... I have this feeling more and more, every day... Let me become a teacher again...I do not speak in terms of means, salaries, I speak in term of professionalism... I ask to become again a professional of teaching , of culture, of the transmission of knowledge... I do not want to be any more an organizer, I do not want to be any more the one who has to guarantee that a pupil is capable of producing this task... It is not MY conception of my job... I want to be able to say to myself, that maybe thanks to us, the teaching profession, some of our pupils were able to leave their economic slump, to receive a culture, a consciousness that allowed them to become better than us... Let me be a teacher... It is all that I ask from you...

Thanks for your support guys... :) Good to know I'm not the only teacher feeling that way...The worrying thing is that governments don't question what they think right...

I know what you're saying, J-Louis, I'm out of teaching for many of the reasons you've highlighted. We often write bonne chance et courage on this site but in this case it certainly is needed ;-)

Jean-Louis, my wife and I taught in universities in the UK. That is not school, but many of the things you say apply to how we feel about the five years before we moved to France. We found that students no longer wanted knowledge and skills but sufficient material for a safe future, that is to say their jobs. Colleagues said the same. The university curriculum changed to make these centres of learning into 'sausage machines' producing the good, hard working citizens of the future. It was our job to give them enough to pass their exams and have a few outstanding students go on to do research. However, I was teaching mainly MA students and it was beginning to happen there too.

My wife is Swiss, studied there and has friends who stayed on and got jobs where she studied. They say exactly the same as I am saying. For many years I was attached to a research institute in Germany and recently old colleagues I am still in touch with who taught at the university have also mentioned a 'sausage machine'. We know a few people here in France who are beginning to say the same.

It begins there at school, the education system demands exactly the same as it did of us. The transition from school to university is now very different to just a few years ago. We are there to produce 'qualified' people who have facts and basic knowledge but the system now makes us avoid putting intellectual issues in their heads so that they grow up to ask questions. I also believe that the part of me that taught has been demoted and perhaps even the academic researcher that I mainly was will no longer be expected to dig too deep. So we too have sometimes asked why we are not allowed to teach any longer? What did I study for if it was not to pass on and share knowledge, to see knowledge advance and improve the world we live in?

France had a very ambitious language curriculum that is now wasted. If it had been handled correctly and sensitively it would be educating young people to be more or less bilingual. Now, although there are many good teachers, there are also so many incompetent ones who teach out of the book, cannot speak or properly comprehend the language they 'teach' (??) and are therefore going through the motions but achieving almost nothing. France would have been about the same as Scandinavians and Swiss with a large part of their (younger) population able to work and live with more than one language, enjoy insights into other cultures and let this country benefit in many ways. Something has gone wrong, the vision has been lost. So, yes, I understand what you are asking but have been asking the same question for some time.