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The fault in our system

Until I have become a teacher, I’d never understood this phrase. The system is faulty.
Now I do. I can relate to critics who say that schools are impersonal, that the content is not adequate for the 21st century, that only marks matter, that a kid can get lost in the system or even swallowed by it. I understand the criticism well, and as a teacher I am probably frustrated by the system on a more regular basis than any outsider.

Yet I feel this statement is too simple and so I’d like to point out two aspects to consider.

What often is not said, is that many humans do try their best in faulty systems, as much as the system allows them to. There are classrooms decorated with posters and pictures to make the building friendlier. There are teachers preparing the extra worksheet for the lost student(s) that need it. There are even those offering tutoring for nearly no compensation. There are secretaries greeting you with a smile and chocolate on a bad day. There are students saying a heartfelt “thank you“ on their last day at a school, reminding you that this is what matters. The person. I am sure this is true not only for schools. People that care can be found everywhere, and their small acts of kindness often are not seen, because the faults in the system speak too loudly – and small, simple gestures are often not perceived.

What is also often the case is, that people working in the system either get nearly broken by it or on the other hand accept it and get bitter and stop trying to make an impact for the better.

An example of the first scenario is my mum. My mum was a dedicated primary school teacher for 37 years (to me, a teacher of not even ten years, an inconceivable fact..!) Teaching and “her kids“ meant the world to her until her dedication took a toll on her. A case of burnout and manic depression, one year of medical leave and reduced hours later, and she was back on track. It is not in her blood to do things halfway, so we watched her give too much again. The system tried to break her, yet her sunny spirit and positive outlook could not be broken. She retired early with tears in her eyes, I feel mostly for us, her family.
However, due to a change of headmasters the summer she retired and the following organizational turmoil, she got no official honourable send-off by her school, her actual headmaster and the colleagues she had worked with side-by-side for more than 25 years. This fact still breaks my heart – that she was let go as if none of what she had contributed mattered. Because it did. I feel in this case the system was an excuse for the lazy way out and also the reason some humans did not make an effort to make a positive impact and e.g. send her off unofficially over dinner. It is nice to know her kids did send her off as cute as only kids can do. 🙂

All in all, the way I see it, no system can be flawless. It is in us humans to make the system disappear into the background and focus on the things we actually can do. That is being better than any system (school or whatever system, does it matter?) by being human.

Having a kind heart and a warm smile, offering small gestures or a shoulder to lean on, being openminded and approachable and giving our best does not mean the system is flawless or that we are perfect. It means we care.

Author: carasmelody

daydreamer, hopelessly hopeful, I love the power of words, I love poems, words are soulfood

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