Let's Talk: Teachers Exploring the need to respect teachers

Stuti: Respect Must Be Earned

Throughout the last 16 years, I have had countless teachers: piano teachers, dance teachers, vocal teachers, ballet teachers, soccer teachers and most importantly to me, teachers in school.

And ever since I was young, my parents and my Indian background have taught me that teachers deserve my utmost respect, no matter how difficult or unreasonable they are. And although I blindly held this belief for the greater portion of my life, I have gradually begun to disagree.

Before I go any further, let me clarify. I think teachers have the hardest job in the world. I have only ever held a few leadership positions in my life, but I can definitely say that helping other people is an extremely time-consuming and emotionally demanding job, especially in an expensive and competitive area like Cupertino. I have even more respect for teachers who are parents and go home after a day of work to manage their own families.

But I also think that teachers are not perfect, and some are definitely not as good as others at their job. I have had teachers who, quite frankly, are bad.

I had a science teacher who couldn’t answer any questions and spent the majority of every class making us watch PBS science videos, sometimes the same video several times. I had a math teacher who made fun of kids for making seemingly silly mistakes to a point where people felt insecure participating. I had a band teacher who would not let kids go to the bathroom or fill up their water bottle until the piece was played perfectly. I had a literature teacher who fell asleep in class and told people to stay quiet so as to not bother him. I had a music teacher who charged 65 dollars per hour and spent 20 minutes telling the class about her day. I had language teachers who expect unreasonable amounts of memorization and are not willing to excuse students even with advanced notice.

These teachers did not respect us as their students, so why should we respect them? Being a teacher does not put anyone above criticism or critique. Being a teacher is not the same thing as being a good teacher. Being a teacher does not mean you unquestionably deserve respect.

Granted, not respecting teachers doesn’t mean you can talk back, name call, gossip about or blatantly ignore your teachers. It just means that you are not required to agree with what your teacher says, how they conduct their classroom or even who they are as a person.

As students, it is our job to give our teachers a fair chance – to listen to them and learn from them. But if teachers in turn cannot educate their students safely and efficiently and help their students succeed, then we are not required to like them, believe them or think what they’re doing is right.

Who we respect and look up to should always be our choice and only our choice, and an occupation or title, even one as important as teacher, should never equate to respect until it is truly deserved.

Ishani: Respect Should Be Given

Ever since I began school, I’ve always questioned every norm that has been thrown in my face. Why do we have to go to school? What am I really learning here? Will I ever use this in the future? Why do I have to be nice to my peers? Are these teachers really worth the respect we are forced to show them?

That last question has been a prevalent one in my mind for years. As I entered MVHS two years ago, I had never been more at a crossroads about its answer. However, as I reach the halfway mark of my time at this school, I think I’ve finally figured it out.

Yes, there are times I have felt I’ve been reprimanded for no reason or overlooked as a student, as I’m sure many others have experienced quite a few times throughout their education. But I wholeheartedly believe that we must look at both sides of the coin and find it in our hearts to give our teachers possibly the only thing they truly want from us — respect.

I’ve definitely had some questionable teachers throughout my life. But that same thing goes both ways. Students always tend to consider ourselves as the victims in the student-teacher relationship, blaming the teacher for their lack of understanding or familiarity with the concepts. Yet they refuse to shoulder the blame of any of this. If he or she doesn’t understand a concept taught in school, it immediately becomes the teacher’s fault, even if the student makes no attempt to work harder on it or even reach out to the teacher for help.

Students are the ones who have created an ‘us vs. them’ divide between them and their educators. I truly believe no matter how intimidating, unapproachable or unqualified our teachers may seem, ultimately all they want is the best for us. And with one bad experience with or even rumors about a teacher, all the good our teachers do for us is soiled. We exaggerate their flaws and dehumanize the nature of their teaching. We stop looking at them as fellow people and start looking at them as monsters, all respect for them lost in our eyes.

It’s subtle, but it’s there. Making fun of teachers behind their backs, complaining about them to administration, in some cases even outright ignoring their instructions.

And yes, I can accept that in a few rare cases, some teachers really aren’t worthy of our respect. But let’s flash forward 10 years when many of us will have begun working. I can almost guarantee the majority of us will feel a lot more antagonism towards our bosses later as we do towards our teachers now. If you want to spend your time making fun of your teachers and disregarding everything they tell you, you may be able to get away with it now, but you sure won’t be able to in the real world.

What I’m trying to say is that at some point we all need to just get over ourselves: your teachers don’t exist to ruin your life. If we learn to treat our educators with respect and kindness now, sure it may seem insignificant and frankly useless to our overall high school experience, but who knows? Maybe it will actually help us excel.

Created By
Stuti Upadhyay


Created with images by Element5 Digital - "untitled image" • Tra Nguyen - "Physics teacher" • Lonely Planet - "Learning about the world"

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