Re Teachers strike articles of January 23rd
Once upon a time in a small kingdom far away, people lived in peace and harmony. Each had work to do in order that the kingdom might thrive. The efforts of the one supported the efforts of the other so that the needs of all were reasonably met and each shared in the prosperity of the kingdom.
In this small kingdom, a couple accepted responsibility for providing care to a group of children whereby the children would grow, learn and develop skills to be contributing adults in their society when they were fully grown. The king provided the couple with a living for the services they provided, and the parents of the children who were in this coupleÂ¹s care looked upon them with respect and appreciation and acknowledged them as effective care givers for their children. Trust was high, and the couple were highly loved and respected in their community.
And the children joyfully went to this couple each morning. They saw in them the likeness of their parents. And they accepted the directions the couple gave them for they new the tasks and the studies that were expected of them were labours of love from a couple who cared deeply for each of them. And though, being children, they sometimes argued and bickered and behaved in inappropriate ways, they accepted the discipline of the couple when corrections were needed. And their parents and the king accepted the discipline they used with the children knowing that the couple was committed to providing and reinforcing solid values that reflected those things that the people of the kingdom considered important.
In time, the couple began to look upon their role and the rewards they were given for their efforts and the said to each other, Â³What we are receiving from the king is not enough. Our contribution to the kingdom is inadequately compensated, and we deserve more. Let us go to the king and demand that he increase our living.
So off they went. The king met with them and listened to their pleas for additional funds. He then explained to them that the people of the kingdom provided taxes whereby roads were built in the kingdom so that all people could travel safely from place to place, hospitals were built whereby those who are sick could attain medical attention, fire protection services were developed so that people’s homes could be protected from accidental fires, water and sewer facilities were developed to bring water into our homes and take away waste. Many other services were also described, and at the end, the king said to the couple, “?From which of these other services do you think I should reduce funds in order that you might have more? Or do you think that I should take more funds from the livelihood of all the people through increased taxes so that I could increase what I give to you?’
The couple were not pleased with the kingÂ¹s response. They saw things differently and had convinced each other that their role was not being adequately recognized in the kingdom in relation to others. We hold the future of the kingdom in our hands. Are we not as important as the doctors? . . . as the politicians? . . . as the lawyers? Yet, our compensation is different from theirs. Let us withdraw some of our services so that the king will change his position and give us the compensation we deserve.’
So the couple began to do less than they had been doing. First, they stopped looking after the children on the playground as they had been doing.
The children, being children got into squabbles and arguments. They looked to the couple to help resolve their concerns, but they were not around. So the biggest and the strongest were able to exert their will over the smaller and the weaker. In fact, the weakest became targets for the others to ridicule, make fun of, hurt, and exploit. The peacefulness of the playground was disrupted. And the children looked upon the couple and said, “?DonÂ¹t they care for us anymore? Are we no longer loved? Can we no longer trust them to tend to our needs?’
And the couple stopped sending notes home to parents so that parents would know how their children were doing in their learning and in their behaviour. The parents only source of information was the children, and the children were less than happy. Tales of bullying were told at the dinner table, and the parents said, “?CanÂ¹t we trust this couple anymore? We have let them represent us as models of the values we all hold dearly, but we donÂ¹t think they share these values. We can’t trust them to discipline our children fairly, so we will withdraw our support and demand explanations for any actions they exercise with our children.’
The uncertainty grew. Others in the kingdom saw the couple place their comfort and their workload and their compensation above all else. Children saw that the relationship between them and the couple, the relationship they had believed in, was phony. And as the couple accelerated their withdrawal of services, meetings with other care givers stopped happening, childrenÂ¹s assignments were not corrected, progress was not communicated to the parents or the children, and learning slowly deteriorated and threatened to stop all together. Even the couple stopped talking to each other.
Finally the king met with the couple. “?You win,’ he said, “?in a fashion. I have found more money for you by taking it from another service and from increased taxes on the people. But I fear you have lost far more than you have gained.’ He looked at them differently. It was a look of disdain. The respect, the honour that had been with their position was gone. He saw them differently. They saw themselves differently. They were different.
“?There is only so much money to go around,’ the king told them. “?To give you
more, someone else must have less. So they will be next to use similar tactics to yours. Then it will be the bus drivers, or the nurses or the . . ..’ The list could go on and on. The couple left the presence of the king and returned to their home.
And the people saw them differently. And the children certainly saw them differently. And they saw themselves differently. And they were different.
And they looked at their pay cheques and they saw that they had more money; they tried to smile, but it was difficult. They looked at each other and said, “?We won!’ but they also saw the cost, and it was hard to smile.
G. M. Edwin