Taken from

I was going through my Education Library today, I just have way too many books and wanted get rid of a lot of the old ones that I don’t need.  I came across a book that a teacher gave me when I covered their classroom one day at my previous school and had previously wrote a blog post about it.  The book is Improving Schools from Within: Teachers, Parents, and Principals Can Make the Difference by Roland S. Barth which was published in 1990.

I looked through it wondering if I should get rid of it and when I came to the section that I had highlighted, when it was first given to me.  When I re-read that section I remembered how powerful the following quote from the first couple of paragraphs in Ch-1 was to me:

“A medieval curse uttered as a final expression of pique and condemnation, resounds, “May you have to teach other people’s children.” Many contemporary educators are discovering its meaning. Teaching other people’s children has become an extraordinarily difficult occupation, made no easier by “other people” who hold little confidence in what educators do and pare away the resources with which they are expected to do it. Public educators…have never enjoyed highly revered positions in American society. Yet in difficult times they have been fueled by a sense of usefulness of their work. But a decade of decline in test scores, enrollments, resources and public confidence now makes it clear that the public lacks commitment to public education in general, and confidence in its educators in particular…

We have heard parts of this message before. But I now see too many educators believing it. As a result, schools face not only a crisis of public confidence but, more dangerous, a crisis of self-confidence…” (Barth, 1990)

Teaching other people’s children remains a difficult job and appears to be getting more and more difficult, in the public education setting. As differing expectations, hopes, dreams, abilities, priorities, moral values, laws, regulations, agendas, political stances, standards, standardized tests, curriculums, opinions, paperwork, media slant, etc. seem to get in the way of child, parent, and school collaboration and understanding of and for each other.

Teachers are still not held in high esteem, by many in the public or private sector. These people do not consider a teacher as a professional who knows how to perform the duties expected of them, but as a “technician” who needs to be told “how” to do their job.

I vehemently disagree with this sentiment, teachers are professionals, who have worked hard to become certified in their profession. Unfortunately, they don’t see us at home correcting papers, planning for future lesson, working on the weekend trying to learn new “things” to help students with new/different ways to learn. All on our “own” time, without reimbursement, bonuses or “comp time”, it is simply an expectation that we work those hours as “salaried” employees by the public.

Mr. Barth’s book “Improving Schools from Within” though it is twenty years old, shows me how little things have changed for teachers and how if anything, we are expected to do more with less and to do it with a seemingly ever-decreasing respect for our profession.

So is it a curse to teach other people’s children?

No I don’t believe it is a curse to teach other people’s children, the teaching part is the part that I love. The curse is what teachers today have to endure in order to be able to teach other people’s children.

So did I get rid of the book, nope – it will stay in my library for a while longer.

Barth, R. S. (1990). Improving Schools from Within. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, Inc., Publishers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.