Ah, a zookeeper. So, you just babysit the animals all day?
August 24, 2020 10:44 AM   Subscribe

If People Talked to Other Professionals the Way they Talk to Teachers. (sl McSweeney's). "“Do you even read your patients’ charts, or do you just assign them a random dosage based on how nice they’ve been to you?”"
posted by storybored (31 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh my, yes.. I feel as though I want to send these to a certain relative in her early sixties who, every time she's frustrated by the responsibilities required by her own job, starts musing about just quitting and taking a position teaching elementary school for a few years to ride things out until she feels like retiring. Of course she has never taught and has no practical experience relevant to the field.

I won't be sending them, however, for two reasons: first, she lacks the self-awareness to get the point, and second, the last time we had contact she flew into a rage at something I said that was supportive of BLM, fabricated an accusation of vile personal behavior on my part, and then cut off contact.

Which is to say: teachers of the world, you have my respect and sympathy and I have totally seen this sort of minimization of what you do in real life. It must be utterly maddening.
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:28 AM on August 24 [10 favorites]


I know these are meant to be funny but at least half of them I read and yes, I can imagine someone saying that.
posted by atrazine at 11:32 AM on August 24 [6 favorites]


“I bet that’s the best part of being a banker — all the free money!”
I'm not understanding what parallel this one is trying to draw. Do, uh... do people think teachers get to take the children home?...
posted by one of these days at 11:46 AM on August 24 [13 favorites]


“Sure, the pay is low, but I bet the joy of putting together press releases for local events is reason enough to stick with this job in the events division of the Chamber of Commerce. You must really believe in its mission.”

I mean, this is what your bosses/other people who work in city orgs WILL say about you if you work in PR.... along with "I bet that's fun!"
posted by emjaybee at 11:47 AM on August 24 [6 favorites]


This kind actually happened to me when I was trying to get my job reclassified (I'm a book conservator) at the library I have since left to run a private practice. The HR rep looked around and said to my face, "so this arts & crafts stuff? You're like, janitors for books, I guess..."

8|

Literally the next week a 5th grade tour came thru our dept and a child said, "Wow, you guys are like BOOK SURGEONS!!!"
posted by ikahime at 11:48 AM on August 24 [58 favorites]


I'm a tech writer. "So, you only have to produce one page of text every two weeks? That's an easy gig."
posted by Melismata at 11:51 AM on August 24 [12 favorites]


Literally the next week a 5th grade tour came thru our dept and a child said, "Wow, you guys are like BOOK SURGEONS!!!"

I have a two-year-old who likes books and ripping things. Part of my partner's home office is the "book hospital".
posted by madcaptenor at 11:54 AM on August 24 [12 favorites]


I'm not understanding what parallel this one is trying to draw.

People often say about teaching:
“I bet that’s the best part of being a teacher — all the free time!”

but their time isn't really free.
posted by Lanark at 12:21 PM on August 24 [14 favorites]


“My colon never acts this way at home. Are you sure you’re reading the colonoscopy results correctly? Did you ever think that maybe you just don’t like my colon?”

MY COLON IS AN INTOLERABLE LITTLE SHIT AND I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND WHY YOU WOULD NEED TO MANHANDLE IT
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:33 PM on August 24 [35 favorites]


Some of those are too close to the truth to be funny. When asked what I do I try and avoid 'landscape architect' as everyone thinks they know what a landscape is and don't even hear the next word...

"Oh, it must be lovely being a gardener" Grrrr, when much of my work is legal, plus plant science, plus sometimes even planting a few plants, and saving people a load of money in the process.

The nadir to date though - to my face when I was near end of my degree - was

"You're just a fucking gardener"

I've seriously thought of blogging with that name along the lines of shit planning (twitter)
posted by unearthed at 1:12 PM on August 24 [9 favorites]


90% of the time when I tell people that I teach English, I get 1 of 2 reactions:

1) "Oh, I hated English!" Yeah, thanks, I hate whatever it is you do for a living too, you jerk.

2) "I better make sure not to make any grammatical errors then!" I'm not an automated spell-check program, thanks though.
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:33 PM on August 24 [17 favorites]


Oh, and if I say that I teach Shakespeare, then it's either:

1) "Oh, I hated Shakespeare!"

or

2) "I heard that Shakespeare didn't really write all that stuff, is that true?"

Flames.

Flames... on the side of my face.
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:42 PM on August 24 [17 favorites]


I always *joke* that I should have been a plumber because no one does plumbing as a hobby but everyone seems to be a hobbyist photographer.

(and before some arrogant mefite raises their hand and says "I do" I'd like to remind you plumbers fix shitters all day long)
posted by photoslob at 2:15 PM on August 24 [6 favorites]


Hank Hill does.
posted by Saxon Kane at 2:44 PM on August 24 [3 favorites]


Everyone who works for the government gets the "my taxes pay your salary" one. That's a gimme.
posted by bonehead at 2:47 PM on August 24 [11 favorites]


The three most misunderstood things I’ve encountered about being a Chemistry prof are:

1. Must be nice to have tenure! You can never get fired!

Which is SO not true. All it means is that, in order to be fired, there has to be an evidentiary hearing and they have to find legitimate cause to fire me. A senior administrator can’t just think, “Hmm...I don’t like his politics/religion/ethnicity/orientation/clothing choices. Let’s pretend he’s not doing a good job so I can get rid of him.” They actually have to show cause for getting rid of me. It’s the basic level of protection from vindictive bosses that everyone in a civilized society should have.

2. “Must be nice to have a pension!”

Which, yes it is! But a reality check: I have to pay 11.5% of my gross pay into it every paycheck. And it’s a negotiated benefit in exchange for which I’ve sacrificed a higher annual salary than I’d be earning in industry. For folks in industry, if they contributed a similar percentage of their higher salary into a retirement annuity, they’d have something akin to a pension, too.

3. “Must be nice to get the summers off!”

Yes, it is. But we also don’t get paid for the summers off. And if you’re working on special projects or, like this summer, having to completely re-tool your courses for Live Online instruction, you’re doing that work for free. I put in 150-200 hours of labor for my college this summer with zero compensation.

Still, I must say: I love my job. I wouldn’t trade it for any other career I’ve ever had.
posted by darkstar at 2:53 PM on August 24 [11 favorites]


I feel as though I want to send these to a certain relative in her early sixties who, every time she's frustrated by the responsibilities required by her own job, starts musing about just quitting and taking a position teaching elementary school for a few years to ride things out until she feels like retiring. Of course she has never taught and has no practical experience relevant to the field.

I am not a teacher, but I have interviewed teachers about their health and the demands of their work for my job: oh my g-d, it is one of the most tiring and physically demanding jobs a professional can have, just like nursing. This is so NOT what I would want to do when I'm in my sixties, even if (knock on wood) I keep my health.

Yeah, and also, I'm not qualified.
posted by jb at 3:40 PM on August 24 [4 favorites]


Oh, and if I say that I teach Shakespeare

My mother was a theatre director and college professor. I remember hearing her snap "Who do I think wrote Shakespeare's works? Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare's works. And I honestly don't care who you think Shakespeare 'really' was. Do you want to talk about drama? Characters? Comedy? Because that's what's actually interesting about Shakespeare."
posted by Lexica at 3:53 PM on August 24 [10 favorites]


My SO is a nationally board-certified, double-masters holding primary school teacher who, prior to this whole teaching online thing, spent 10-12 hours a day and at least a third of the weekends prepping curriculum, taking required classes to keep certification, communicating with parents and teaching partners and so on.

Now, preparing to go back online teaching, it is a 14-16 hours-a-day, 7-day-a-week slog. The district keeps changing the required technology and much time is devoted to zoom meetings with school administrators. In fact, there is such a meeting going on right now as I write this.

We have taken one of the larger rooms in our house and converted it into a streaming-studio classroom at considerable expense including a higher bandwidth fiber connection, cameras, lighting, tripods, mics, white boards, two fire-breathing PCs running OBS, HDMI converters, monitors, furnishings, blackout & sound-deadening curtains, etc.

It's going to be a hell of a year.
posted by bz at 4:05 PM on August 24 [17 favorites]


One of my closest friends is an elementary school teacher, and whenever he talks about his job I am incredulous about what how it is run, and I'll never complain about teachers again. Some of what I've heard:

- You'll find out if you still have a job... a month before the school year starts
- After a small number of sick days, you'll have to pay the school to provide a substitute
- In some districts, if you quit you'll have to pay a fee for breaking the contract
- Constant unpaid overtime
- Regular gifting upwards to administrators
- Zero understanding or interest in technology
- Guilt trips for not taking on additional extra-curricular activities for the students (that come with a paltry stipend)

It sounds like a non-profit but the school charges almost three times the state average for private schools.
posted by meowzilla at 4:18 PM on August 24 [9 favorites]


We have taken one of the larger rooms in our house and converted it into a streaming-studio classroom at considerable expense including a higher bandwidth fiber connection, cameras, lighting, tripods, mics, white boards, two fire-breathing PCs running OBS, HDMI converters, monitors, furnishings, blackout & sound-deadening curtains, etc.

“I’d love to just play with actuary statistics AV equipment and streaming stuff all day. That would be so fun! I bet you don’t even feel like you’re at work!
posted by krisjohn at 4:19 PM on August 24 [13 favorites]


Yeah, as a librarian, a lot of those sound very familiar, especially the my taxes pay your salary one. Right, cos I don't pay taxes too? My other favourite is "wow, it must be great to sit around and read books all day".

Although the "You're a librarian? Must be nice to get all those free books" is true, and should be followed by "And you can too, you just need a library card!"

Here in Melbourne where parents have been grappling with a lot of home schooling due to the pandemic, there is a bit more appreciation of everything teachers do. I still don't think they get it as much as they should - the professional development, the planning, the meetings, the administration - but it is nice to know people are realising it isn't just a cushy job.
posted by Athanassiel at 4:19 PM on August 24 [8 favorites]


The writer explains further on the Patreon post:
When I taught preschool, people often assumed that I just played all day and that it was a complete blast (although you’ll note that adults do not often pursue long-form recreational imaginary play with toddlers as a hobby). When I taught high school, they assumed it was for the “summers” off (in NYC, that summer was seven weeks, filled quickly by decompression, lesson planning, and professional development). Now that I teach at a college level, people do seem to think I wing it every single class, just sort of free-styling on my thoughts about literature and writing to rapt classes of undergrads. In every position, there’s been assumptions that people who have never taught could do my job, which I find just nuts: I don’t think that about anyone’s job. All work has challenges!
posted by spamandkimchi at 4:44 PM on August 24 [12 favorites]


So I'm an early childhood educator working with infants. Here's a rant I posted on FB a week or so ago about being told by a teacher that I'm not a teacher....

*steps on soapbox*
I was at Walmart looking at a teacher shirt. A nice looking woman asked me if I was a teacher. I said yes. She asked what grade I taught. I said I was in Early Childhood Education working with infants. She looked down her nose at me and said “Oh, you’re not really a teacher then. I teach elementary kids." My jaw nearly hit my chest. I just said, okay, whatever and took my shirt and walked away.
People. Please. I’m just as much a teacher as my K-12 colleagues. I don’t just watch the kids play all day. I’m not a babysitter. I read to them. I help them learn words. I help them learn to walk. We do fine and gross motor development activities. I do art projects. We build buildings and knock them down. We learn about cause and effect (ie science).
I write lesson plans every week. I have to write developmental goals monthly. I have to do assessments from the youngest age and do them on schedule, which is quite frequently in the under 18 month set. I work with a curriculum. I have to take continuing Ed classes. Like most teachers, I buy stuff with my own money so they can have the best learning environment. In addition, I have to make daily notes and then enter them in a computer system so we can keep our Step Up to Quality Star (and move it up so we get more funding per child).
So yeah. I’m a bit pissed off that there are teachers out there that think I’m nothing more than a babysitter. I know I’m a teacher and I know that I make a difference in these little people’s lives. Just seeing them develop a love of books since moving into the baby room is gratifying.
*steps down from soapbox*
Thanks for letting me vent.
posted by kathrynm at 6:02 PM on August 24 [32 favorites]


I had the same thing when I used to write technical books.

"You just write 400 pages about some software, and they PAY YOU? It must be nice!"

As if everyone else is writing accuracy-checked detailed 400-page tutorial references for fun, and I'm the only one being paid. Frankly I don't understand it at all.

Also I'm a musician who produces music using computers:

"Oh, you just push a button and music comes out huh? Must be nice!"

Counterpoint: I also do computer tech support for a living and NOBODY says anything about that being easy...
posted by mmoncur at 7:11 PM on August 24 [8 favorites]


Is this article double-ironic or something? Like, is the point that actually, teachers *aren’t* special, should get the fuck over themselves, and should quit complaining about the career they chose knowing full well all that it entailed? Is that it? It’s just...I have no doubt that literally all of those professions get literally all of those comments literally all of the time, is all.

And, fwiw,
posted by Sys Rq at 8:46 PM on August 24 [2 favorites]


I really love these comments.
posted by storybored at 9:13 PM on August 24


Sys Rq, I don’t think it’s intended to be ironic. Er...or doubly so. A lot of professions get dunked on like this, definitely.

It’s just that, nowadays, in this sociopolitical climate, there is a sizable portion of the population that takes dunking on teachers to be an article of faith. So the teaching profession is a good exemplar of the trope being pilloried in the article.

I do recall hearing the occasional dismissive remark when I was a technical writer. But nothing like the culture war being waged against educators.
posted by darkstar at 11:00 PM on August 24 [6 favorites]


It’s just...I have no doubt that literally all of those professions get literally all of those comments literally all of the time, is all.
I’m sure other professions get this from time to time but it’s extremely common for teaching to an extent I have never seen for other jobs. The only ones which get close are all also coded female – librarians just read all day, marketing does nothing for the company, etc. – but it’s nowhere near as widespread. I think that’s combining the usual pink-collar disrespect with being something which everyone deals with: people who don’t like libraries largely don’t visit them, but almost everyone is or has a student.

There’s an additional factor that a lot of policy decisions are made by people who don’t interact with the public, and there have been budget cuts for most of the last half century so people constantly misattribute blame to the person they interact with rather than the people who created the problems.
posted by adamsc at 5:58 AM on August 25 [8 favorites]


but almost everyone is or has a student.

Culture wars aside, I honestly think that's a big part of this. Not only has everyone been a student (or currently is one), but almost everyone in the modern US has probably interacted with teachers more than with professionals of any stripe outside of their actual career. And it's not even close, really. I mean most of us have certainly interacted with doctors and lawyers and real estate agents and barbers and waiters and all kinds of other things, but the average person did not spend 6ish hours per day in front of a doctor or a lawyer or a barber for ~15 years.

So it stands to reason that people would have strong Opinions About Teachers, and that a non-trivial number of people would think they could do the job, even if they really can't.
posted by breakin' the law at 12:45 PM on August 25 [5 favorites]


I do recall hearing the occasional dismissive remark when I was a technical writer. But nothing like the culture war being waged against educators.

A technical writer is not exactly a public-facing job, is it? What an odd comparison.

So it stands to reason that people would have strong Opinions About Teachers, and that a non-trivial number of people would think they could do the job, even if they really can't.

Indeed, and a lot of those people are teachers nonetheless.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:52 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


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