What if Doctors Were Treated Like Teachers?

Wow…teacher, Thomas Baker has hit a nerve with this argument about the perceptions held of teachers as professionals. Just had to repost…

What if Doctors Were Treated Like Teachers? #CCK11 #ELTchat #edchat #ukedchat.

In a recent debate, over nine million people were asked the question, through social-media, “Is teaching a profession?” The answer was unanimous: “Yes, it is. Teaching is a profession.”

Now, I can see you looking at me curiously. If you are my friend, you’re thinking to yourself, “Tom, you need to take a break, get some rest.”

For those of you who don’t know me very well, you’re wondering to yourself, “Thomas, what have you been smoking? Did you expect people to say, No, teaching is not a profession.” :-)

Yet bear with me a while longer. Indulge me, have patience, I pray thee.

What isn’t and hasn’t been said, however, at least not very loudly, if at all, is that teachers, although fully recognized professionals, don’t get a lot of respect. We also don’t get paid very much either.

Let’s recap this so far:

1. Low respect / low prestige

2. Low pay

Well, it follows then, that if you don’t pay me very well, and you don’t respect me very well, and if society at large accords me low prestige, then, let’s face it, everyone is going to feel empowered to treat teachers accordingly. In a word, differently, from, let’s say, a doctor, a medical professional.

“What do I mean by that?”, you ask.

Let me illustrate. Go on the street, any street, and ask the first ten people you meet, “Should teachers be held accountable for the results of the education of your country?”

Here, the overwhelming majority will likely answer, “Yes”. No discussion about it, “yes” is an obvious answer. We don’t need statistics.

It’s a no-brainer, teachers teach the children, so we must be held accountable for the results.

Now, it’s the doctors’ turn. Go on the street, any street, and ask the first ten people you meet, “Should doctors be held accountable for the health of the people in your country?”

Here, the overwhelming majority will likely answer, “No”.

Of course, you will want to ask why not. So you go, “Why not?”

The answer(s) will be of the variety we see below:

You can’t blame doctors for:

1. poor people having bad health. (socio-economic status)
2. obesity. (medication / diet / exercise )
3. high blood pressure. (medication / diet / exercise)
4. heart attacks. (medication / diet / exercise)
5. diabetes (medication / diet exercise)
6. strokes (medication / diet / exercise
7. ??? (medication / diet exercise)

Dear reader and friend, you get the picture. Society is pretty darn lenient with doctors. We don’t hold them accountable for things which they could be reasonably expected to perform a lot better, for society as a whole.

On the other hand, society, in general, gets pretty riled up about teachers. People get angry when they talk about the performance of the teaching profession.

There is even, “strong empirical evidence that suggests teachers are the most important aspect in the educational achievement of students.”

And so, society is very upset with these so-called “Teacher Professionals”.

“Why can’t teachers be more like doctors?”, society asks.

This teacher, myself, asks the reverse question:

“What if doctors were treated like teachers?”

Best regards,

Thomas Baker
Teacher of English as a Foreign Language
Santiago, Chile


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