Why do they get it for free, when everyone else has to earn it?

Jacob Hunt of Jodi Picoult’s House Rules asks his mother this very question after he is punished for a minor infraction involving a teacher at his school. Respect. He’s talking about respect. Why do teachers receive respect just because they are teachers when the average Joe has to prove to everyone he deserves respect just because he… isn’t a teacher? Well, Jacob, now that I’ve stepped into the teaching role in this scenario I’ve been asking the same question.

I am a volunteer assistant instructor for an English as a Second Language (ESL) course in my hometown (I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this on here. Wish I had–I think I usually end up getting distracted by some other thought that pops into my head during the week. But anyway, digression.), so, essentially, I’m kind of a teacher–one of those positions that supposedly falls under the professions-that-deserve-automatic-respect category. I’d never really questioned why this is the case, even after I began working in the ESL field.

I’ve always adhered to the rule advising you to respect your elders. Anyone who held a few months or several decades–thus, more wisdom and experience–over my head was to be treated with kindness, civility. And if this elder holds a position of authority, showing respect is especially important. This always made sense to me–until last week in my ESL class.

Even though I’m one of the two teachers in the class, I’m not the oldest–far from it, actually. Thus, the idea to respect elders because they’re… elder is moot here. So then I should be respected because of my educator title, right? Turns out, that’s not much to go on either. Before I delve further, let me just say I love my class and I love my students and the following is in NO way intended to portray them negatively. However, they are not always the most civil with the teachers in the room… There usually comes a time each semester where a class session is dedicated to lecturing students to respect their elders, or in this case, teachers. Usually prompted because they continuously don’t show they’re listening to instruction, or because they interrupt, or talk while the teacher is talking, or a half dozen other reasons. I know the program that offers these ESL courses has looked into education styles in other countries in an attempt to understand our students’ behavior and respond accordingly, but I’m not sure much progress has been made yet. Regardless, normally after this “manners talk” takes place, the students seem to alter their classroom etiquette. But in my current class, there is one student who refuses to change their ways. They repeatedly defy what the head teacher (my boss) instructs the students do, they taunt both of us, and, ultimately, refuse to speak in English during the class. Maybe that last expectation seems presumptuous, but it is an English language class…

After the latest class meeting, I was very upset with how the student had behaved during the lesson, exhibiting behavior similar to that listed above. But in an attempt to examine things more objectively, I considered the central questions of this post–Jacob’s: Why do teachers automatically deserve respect? and mine: Do they in the first place? When I first stepped into my teaching position, I hadn’t done anything to warrant respect, yet until this most recent class meeting, I had seemed to think I deserved to be treated civilly. I’m not so sure, now.

Don’t get me wrong: I certainly don’t think we should be outright rude to people simply because we believe they haven’t done anything deserving of respect. But should we be bestowing the highest levels of admiration upon elders and authoritative figures without at least getting acquainted with their character first? I mean, consider how many people you’re nice to just because society says it must be so. Sure your teacher is your teacher but what if they’re also a serial killer? That kind of qualifies them as a terrible person, right? Jacob’s teacher wasn’t actually a serial killer, but he was a terrible person. Regardless, the school demanded he be treated with respect anyway because he was a teacher. Do teachers and/or authoritative figures turned serial killers still deserve respect just because they were your teacher and/or authoritative figure first? I apologize for the the completely unrealistic, overdramatic (and, if you’ve read House Rules, the sort of but not really ironic) example here, but it is something to think about…

Sorry I never figured out an answer to your question, Jacob. Have a civil (within reason) week!

 

 

Where Do You Get Your Morals?

This is what I was asked the other night (more or less–though the question may have been worded differently), because apparently I have a pretty well-established moral compass, considering my current life circumstance (i.e. college). As providing improvised yet thoughtful answers to deep questions and, well, talking, are not my strong suits, I gave a pretty haphazard response about my personality and relating that to inner-motivation and people-pleasing–major ISFJ traits. None of what I said was inaccurate, but I wasn’t really satisfied with my answer. So I’m going to attempt to work out a more elaborate response here.

In all honesty, I’ve never explicitly thought about the origins of my morals. In that respect, I don’t think; just act. I don’t recommend adhering to that life advice in any other situation, but when it comes to following my moral compass, that mindset seems to work for me.

I’m going to reference back to my Myers-Briggs personality to try and exemplify what I’m saying. ISFJs are easily motivated people; we function with a work-first-and-play-later mindset and are motivated by the sense of accomplishment that arrives after completing a task (more on that here). That is simply how our minds are set up. So whenever a fellow student or parent or teacher compliments me on my work ethic, my immediate response is Why wouldn’t you strive to finish your work right away? I don’t make the extra effort to be productive or finish assigned tasks. I don’t think; just act.

In all honesty, I don’t know from where I’m drawing my morals. At this point, what I believe to be right and wrong has been so thoroughly established and followed in my mind, that attempting to stray from that isn’t a possibility to me, as though I was “made” to act a certain way.

With this being said, I don’t actually think everyone is born programmed to follow certain morals alone. But I do think everyone is born with traits that are likely to adhere to particular morals and that those morals can be shaped early in life. At the risk of entering the nature vs. nurture debate, I’d say both our environment and personality partake in forming our sense of right and wrong. As I believe the bulk of this shaping happens early on (though morals are subject to change throughout life), the environment involved in this process would have to be family (parents), some form of early education, and any other group constantly present in your young life.

So naturally, I’d have to conclude my morals were primarily formed as a result of parental and educational influence, which have in turn interacted with my personality and created the moralistic mindset I now follow. I can’t cite a specific lesson or life event that took place in my early years that solidified any of my morals–which frustrates me to no end, mind you; perks of practically non-existent memory–but the above is what I believe is likely what happens to us regarding morality formation.

Now I’m interested: Where do YOU think our morals originate from, dear reader? Family? School? Faith? Something else entirely? I’m curious to learn about other perspectives on this–hopefully yours is a lot simpler than mine…

Have a wonderful week! Keep on following your compass.

Killing Them Slowly with my Sass

I’ve been told I should be a lawyer.

It’s not as big of a jump as you think, since I do study English. But this isn’t really a profession I’ve easily (or, ever) envisioned myself in; the amount of stress that would job would give me would likely exceed what college has given me in under four years in just a few months. No thanks. Suffice to say I was rather taken aback when my professor made the above encouragement. What’s the reason behind this suggestion?

“You’re always making a case for something,” they said.

Well. They aren’t wrong.

Whenever I share my opinion with others, whether I know them well or not, I feel the need to justify that opinion. I want others to understand my thought process, to at least gain an idea of how I arrived at the conclusion I did, before they judge my thoughts. Then if others do judge me, I’m at least convinced I’ve done what I can to show my perspective.

Unfortunately, my method doesn’t always translate well and I appear defensive, as made clear by my professor and dozens of others. I attribute this to my childhood years. You know the story: confident in views, get shot down, become bitter externally when really just trying to be protective. Yeah, that’s me. I’m just trying to save myself from the harsh critics, you guys! Oh look, there’s my defensiveness right there.

No, but seriously I’m like a hybrid of Jane and Lizzie Bennet of “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” which if you haven’t watched yet you need to stop reading this right now and go watch this YouTube series! I’ve even provided a link to the first video:

lbd

Jane (left) and Lizzie (right) getting into some kind of creative (read: heated) discussion, no doubt. Click the picture to be transported into the world of Lizzie Bennet!

Right, hybrid personality. I’m like Jane on a regular basis, but when others jab at me or I fear others will jab at me, out comes that biting Lizzie wit. I consider it a blessing. Until others (like my professor) make it feel like more of  a curse. So in response do I work to improve the ways I deliver my opinions and reasoning? Nope! I just keep on keeping on…

And so should you! Especially if you have blessing-curse traits you struggle to manage. Speaking of which, share yours–I’d love to hear ’em.

This rant was a little less organized than usual… Sorry about that, Friends.