Blog: Are teachers to blame?

Blondes and rugby players are dof. If you drive a certain make of car you’re zef. And if you live on the wrong side of the tracks you’re common.

Poor education is to blame for the poor pass rate at universities.

Standard of education in South Africa reaches new low.

I have a positive outlook on life but if there’s one thing that makes my blood boil it’s when people make generalisations, especially about education.

It’s unfair to generalise about an issue or person or their situation.

No two issues are identical. Yet unfounded claims are often made in newspaper headlines merely for the sake of sensation.

There may be factors in the education system that play a role in many students not being able to perform satisfactorily at university but these aren’t the only reasons. Why should the teaching profession, which plays such an important role in the future of our country, always be cast in a negative light and be made the culprit?

Over the past weekend I read newspaper reports on the topic and even heard a discussion about it on TV. It seems teachers who don’t teach learners how to learn are the culprits. Excuse me, but aren’t teachers meant to teach subject content? Except they’re also expected to teach kids manners– which is really their parents’ job!

There are so many dedicated, hardworking, motivated and well-meaning teachers who do more than is expected of them while maintaining a high standard of teaching. Generalisations imply all teachers aren’t doing their jobs, which is unfair!

Yes, there are students who don’t know how to study, but aren’t there other valid reasons for the high drop-out rate at schools and universities? A few spring to mind:

  • All-night parties and alcohol abuse
  • Poor class attendance
  • Wrong subject choice
  • Lack of financial support

There are several other examples, but these will do for now.

Finally, I have these pleas:

Just because one learner looks untidy or is caught smoking, don’t say it’s the entire school.

If one teacher makes a mistake, don’t assume it applies to all teachers.

If university students are irresponsible and don’t pull their weight, don’t blame the lecturers who on a daily basis try their best to prepare learners for the adult world.

- Olga Channing

Olga Channing is a deputy principal and Afrikaans teacher at a high school in Pretoria. She’s the author of six books for the new school curriculum and after 24 years as a teacher, she still loves her job.

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