Saturday, July 14, 2012

Summer Break-Great to have the summer off!

It's Summer so I'm doing what teachers do!
Whenever I'm in a social situation and I'm asked about what I do, I hesitate for a second.  I think, be proud, you know how important your impact is, then I answer, "I'm an educator."  The follow up is usually, what do you teach, where do you teach? And in this short-term, limited exchange, the person often says, "It must be nice to have your summers off."  Or, they may say, "It must be nice to be home with your children in the afternoon."  I've always been polite.  I've always made the small talk and ended the evening with good wishes.  But I am bitter concerning the subject.  

                   For me there's a lure to answer rudely.
The temptation is to answer physicians who made such a statement with, "Yeah!  And it must be nice to be able to hit the links whenever you want!", or to respond sarcastically to an attorney with "Yeah!  And if I could charge hourly so I could bill for the hours I spend to get each child to meet standardized goals, it would be great."

Of course, I know that these are negative stereotypes, and do not reflect the truth about the professions, but it's curious how it's acceptable to make such a statement to a teacher, yet rude to convey a commonly held attitude to a person in a career considered more noble.  Sure, one should understand such generalizations are insulting, and reveal that one's understanding of a career is limited to trite statements, but after many years it's hard not to lower oneself to the level of ignorance of the interlocutor.

I'm trying to give the benefit of the doubt to the person, allowing for the fact that they simply might not understand what is entailed in the profession of education.  Answering with "Why do you think that I have my summers off?", might clear up the reason for the statement and give me a chance to explain that, "Yes, I work during summers, and do you have any questions about what teachers do to prepare for time in the classroom that is similar to what professionals do before they meet their clients face-to-face?"

Perhaps I’ll get to the point where I don’t take the statements so personally and can diplomatically enrich the conversation.  For now, I’m declining the invitations with a polite, “I regret that I will not be attending. . .”

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