I’m No Candle, or There’s No Honor in Martyrdom
I believe Harlan Ellison said something like the starving artist is a myth perpetuated by those who don’t wish to pay the artist. I believe he said something to the effect of, “There’s no nobility in starving for one’s art.” He was talking about writing, of course. But it came to me a lot a couple of weeks ago as a quote that was been being posted and read at my school for Teacher’s Appreciation Week compared teachers to candles, who “light the way while being consumed.”
I loathe this idea. I love teaching, but it’s a job. I don’t want to be consumed by it. A candle gives light until there’s no more left. This is not honorable, it’s only the way of things. If I light the way, it’s with a flashlight, which needs taking care of and a recharge. Of course, teaching technology and media, my flashlight is on my phone. I will do whatever I can to help my students find the river and drink, within reason. That, I hope, is honorable. When it comes to my personal health—mental or physical—or it comes to time with my family, or it comes to my other calling, writing, I draw the line.
All the other ”appreciation?” Keep it. Want to show appreciation? Time or money, that’s how. For all teachers everywhere.
The myth that “teachers are candles,” or any myth that teachers should give so much more of themselves than nearly any other career–without the corresponding pay of, say, a doctor–is perpetuated by people who do not actually respect teachers, but choose to believe that they should give more of themselves than they should. And this includes administrators.
Administrators love to point out how they have to be on-call all the time, and do this conference or that conference, etc. Considering they’re paid far, far more than those in the classroom (and so many of them have not been in a classroom, of have only taught a little while), that’s their choice. Teachers should not be expected to do what the administrators are willing to do without the same benefits and pay.
And this is not school specific, but all schools, all districts.
Just a thought.
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