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Teaching and education

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message 1: by Isi (new) - rated it 5 stars

Isi I would like to bring up a topic that caught my attention during the read, but I think is also suitable for people who haven’t read The life list yet, so don’t worry: I won’t give away any key part of the story.

I would like to talk about teachers and education. At the beginning of the book, Brett doesn’t tell her boyfriend she is working as a teacher because it is not a proper job for her, that has been working in a much better position before. I saw the same reaction in the first episode of the TV series “Breaking bad”, in which the colleagues of the university ask the main character where he is working and he answers that he is a teacher. ‘In which university?’ they ask then, and he, ashamed, says that he is a secondary school teacher.

So when society has started to think that being a teacher at primary and secondary schools is a minor job? Does this happen in your countries? I’m Spanish and here in my country the 27% of the population is unemployed at the moment, so nobody would be ashamed to say they work as teachers, because you are very lucky if you have a job, whatever it is, but it’s true that the behavior towards teachers has changed in the last decades. Fifty years ago, a student who was quarreled at school, then was quarreled again at home because their parents didn’t admit bad behavior with the teachers. Now, if a student is quarreled at school, his/her parents go to the school and beat the teacher because he/she is guilty of bothering the child. And this is the first step to society to think that teaching is a minor job.

Some months ago I read a report in the media that showed how education was in other European countries, such as Finland and other northern countries. There teachers are selected after passing several tests, and the degree for being a teacher is one of the hardest. They earn more than other workers and the government never cuts the financial resources in education, so there nobody would be ashamed of introduce themselves as teachers and, besides, these countries are the ones that haven’t feel the effect of the crisis. This is because the society in these countries believes that education is essential, and act accordingly to it. Do you want to know what a popular Spanish journalist said about the report? She said that it is true that there people were well educated, but that they can’t have a beer in a terrace of a bar (because of the weather) like in Spain. Oh yes, having good weather is much more important than having a good education…

So what do you think about teachers, those professionals that spend 6 hours every day with children and teenagers, teaching how to be a good person, how to work individually or in groups, how to get your goals and succeed in life, etc.? They are the ones who stayed with us for years of learning. Do you think this is a minor job? Would you feel proud or ashamed if you were a teacher?

I’m glad that Brett finally found teaching rewarding and learnt that this is a job to be very proud of, even when the salary was not one of the highest. But I’m strongly convinced that society is able to change things, and if we think that something has a great importance, it will increase its value eventually.


message 2: by Paola (new)

Paola I think you misunderstood. Brett does not hide the truth because he is ashamed but because the boyfriend has a strange relationship, in which he thinks only about money. if you read carefully, you can understand that Brett is afraid of being left by the boy and that is at a time of his life in which he is making evaluations about what to do about the future. If I were you I would not have prevented the reading of the book. You should always generalize. Paola (youarethebest70)


message 3: by Isi (new) - rated it 5 stars

Isi Yes, I see that she is worried about the money, but I also think that it's more than that: it's related with the job itself.
If you work as a lawyer, for example, you are supposed to deal with a lot of responsability and you have to be a shark in life to succeed. But if you are a school teacher, well, you just spend your time with children, which for some people has no importance at all.
And the teacher's salary emphasizes this idea about the importance of the job: they earn little money, so they have an irrelevant job.


message 4: by Paola (new)

Paola I do not agree, Brett loves his job, in fact, to much to do to help the children entrusted to it. I personally find that the teacher's work is crucial to the growth of a child. The book is never diminished the figure of the teacher! The book does not focus in the role of the teacher but rather in the life of the protagonist!


Lori Spielman Brett loved teaching, but she was afraid Andrew might not find her new job as glamorous or prestigious as her corporate position. I believe teachers here in the US are proud of their work, but they often feel unappreciated. Society claims to respect those in education, but when budgets are cut, education is often the first to get slashed. Very unfortunate.


Chickenlips422 Brett loved the feelings of being a teacher and making a difference with her students, or else she wouldn't have felt like a failure with Peter. She had begun to realize in her subconscious that Andrew would not feel "warm and fuzzy" to the idea. I have a masters and credits toward a doctorate and I know that when I tell people that I teach young children, people are "shocked" that I am not a principal yet. They don't understand that I chose not to finish the doctorate because I wanted to work with (young)children, not be an administrator. 9/11 is actually when I gave up being a college professor and went back into the classroom.


Sylvia Ekdahl Wow Chickenlips422, I could have written your post! Are we twins?


message 8: by Isi (new) - rated it 5 stars

Isi Yes, that's what I mean: people are expected to choose a better position in their jobs, with a better salary and other kinds of responsabilities, but keep on working with the students is as honourable as being the principal.
Nobody should think a teacher is "less" than other staff in a school (principal, heads of department, etc). Teachers are doing one of the most important work in the world!


message 9: by Julie (last edited Sep 29, 2013 05:26AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Julie Valerie I believe the writer was trying to establish a conflict between Brett and her boyfriend - who is deeply motivated to climb the corporate ladder. Couple that with the circumstances behind Brett's changing her career focus and you will see the writer was simply trying to create tension between two characters within the fictional reality of their relationship within the fictional reality of the novel.

If Brett's boyfriend valued corporate status more than anything else, and if she [no spoilers here] found herself no longer in possession of a corporate job and instead found herself in a role HE would not value, then you've got yourself the makings of conflict within their relationship. He could have deeply valued cats and if she found out she was allergic to cats, it would put their relationship in jeopardy, not because Brett or the writer didn't value cats - but because this was the premise established between these two characters.

I don't think the writer was trying to address any social commentary on the role and value of teachers in our society. I believe the writer herself has a background in teaching and working with children in our schools. I suspect she used those experiences to celebrate the role of teachers and their contributions to our children. I think it's one of the strengths of the book.

Consider for a moment the incredibly HIGH value Brett places on teaching at the conclusion of the book - as well as the very meaningful plot developments and wonderful people who are met through Brett's teaching. I think if you viewed the book as a whole - you'd find the message about teaching was very strong and positive, but that the main character, Brett, expressed concerns over her career choice, briefly and in passing, at the beginning of the novel - as it related to the relationship she was in with someone who was more hostile toward different types and options of employment in the workplace.

Isi, I hope you don't view my comments as hostile toward you - because I am not trying to come across too strong - I loved the book and my wish for you is to also love the book. I have a background in teaching and I share your concerns - I just don't think this book carried an anti-teaching message. Quite the opposite. So when you run up against someone who devalues the role of teaching, give them a copy of this book. Tell them to read it and see how one teacher touched the lives of so many.

Yay teachers! :)


Chickenlips422 Julie---Well said, not too strong at all.


message 11: by Chickenlips422 (last edited Sep 29, 2013 06:56AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Chickenlips422 Isi: It would be nice if there was not differing levels of respect. The support staff are not treated as well by parents, even if the school could not run without the janitor or secretary. In the world at large, being a principal is seen as a better position than a teacher. When you consider that garbage collectors, plumbers, and electricians make more per hour than some assistant teachers, it is a bit sobering. Not to put down garbage collectors, electricians, or plumbers, but it means that a college diploma is not longer a guarantee of higher pay. With the high unemployment rate out there, a job is more a status to achieve. However, a job in the corporate sector is often seen as a goal to achieve. Teaching is a passion, not a job. No one is in it for the money or status.


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