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Why are Teachers Underappreciated?

How come our society glamorizes education so much but appreciates educators so little?

“Tired Teacher Puts on ‘Happy Face’ Before Class - Yahoo

“Teachers are Underappreciated”. This is not going to be an article about highlighting specific teachers that are somehow marvelous or criticizing those that aren’t. This article concerns the education system and how little teachers are appreciated and given the right motivation within it. In every good politician's speech, they always say the same recycled “I will focus on education, every kid will go to school, we will have a new and renowned society”. Politicians feed us exactly what we want to hear since we have this general belief that our education determines who we are as people and consequently, the rest of our lives. This belief arises from the fact that we are taught this in school, our education prides itself on this notion, thus adding a higher amount of pressure on both students and teachers alike. If you don’t go to school, you won’t get a job, you can’t make a living etc. We pride education so much yet somehow we don’t hold educators to the same level of praise?


Teachers in general, earn very little. Most teachers don’t teach for the salary, but for the pleasure of filling another person's mind with knowledge. Whether we realize it or not, teachers teach us so much more than our everyday school content. They educateus on life lessons, and how to be better human beings. We listen to the wisdom they feed us and we carry the stories that they tell. It is the small moments between lectures that truly end up sticking with us the most. We even end up mirroring their behavior and the respect that they do (or don’t) show us.


In Brazil, the average monthly salary for teachers is R$9,080 which is within the median salary range. Political agendas such as the rising right-wing in Brazil have demeaned the image of teachers as “criminals” and as robbers of freedom. It is interesting how political speeches and agendas can affect the way that a whole country views a group of people. Salaries for teachers can be as low as R$4,350 for some public school teachers in Brazil where the average cost of living is at R$2,398.30 per person without including rent. It is no wonder that they are painted as criminals in the public eye and sometimes lash out at their students when they barely have enough to pay rent. All the while they have to watch their students excel, and start their lives as young adults with better opportunities.


A study by The Rio Times proved that Brazil’s school teachers have the lowest salary. They ranked the lowest out of all of the countries surveyed with a low R$2,557 (US$640) per month in 2019. The former president of INEP (National Institute of Educational Researches Anísio Teixeira) described the salary as “horrible”.


On the other hand, in Luxembourg teachers receive an annual salary of approximately 88,000 euros, at primary level. In secondary level they are paid approximately 101,500 euros which makes them the best paid teachers in Europe and in the world. Switzerland comes close in second place. In Switzerland this compensation in the salary is also reflected on the high regard they hold them in. Because teachers and education are a necessity we sometimes also forget that they are a privilege. Education in Switzerland and Luxembourg is multilingual and regarded highly because their teachers are so highly appreciated.


These feelings of underappreciation were heightened with the covid-19 pandemic where the teachers were easier to be ignored with just the press of a button, but teachers were going through all the same struggles as us and more. They were suffering the same mental and physical health issues as us but they had to put on a brave face to help us through ours, which is not only something they did during online school, but always.


Take the teacher above for example, he was caught by the school cameras visibly tired and disheartened. When he heard the cheer of the students he instantly changed his face and tried to lighten up their moods. It comes to show that not all heroes wear capes. Even the smallest acts like these make all the difference in students' lives who can either have a hard time in school or their home life.


This is not to say that all teachers are flawless or that we should bow down to every single one just for the sake of them being teachers. There is also a very large disparity between “good” teachers and “bad” ones and the same respect that they ask of us to show them must be reciprocated for a harmonious relationship. It just means that we have to further appreciate everything that teachers do for us day in and day out. They help us with our work, they stay up till ungodly hours to correct our papers, they break their neck to give us feedback and the list goes on.


So from now on let’s not celebrate our teachers only on the 15th of October, but everyday of the year. Show them your appreciation with kind words, understanding, respect most of all, accountability and effort. The most heartwarming feeling for teachers is when they know their students are okay and they start to stand on their own two feet.


References:

-, Richard Mann, et al. “Brazil's School Teachers Have the Lowest Salary, Says Study.” The Rio Times, 23 June 2019, https://www.riotimesonline.com/brazil-news/rio-politics/national-politics/brazils-school-teachers-have-the-lowest-salary-says-study/.


by, Written, and Trevor Wheelwright. “Best States for Teacher Pay in 2021.” Business.org, 2 Dec. 2021, https://www.business.org/hr/workforce-management/best-us-states-for-teachers/#:~:text=In%20the%20US%2C%20teacher%20pay,growth%20between%202019%20and%202020.&text=Teachers%20earn%2013%25%20more%20than,national%20average%20salary%20is%20%2456%2C310.


“Cost of Living in Brazil.” . Prices in Brazil. Updated Mar 2022, https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=Brazil.


Desk, India Today Web. “Countries That Pay Highest Starting Salary for High School Teachers.” India Today, 6 Oct. 2021, https://www.indiatoday.in/education-today/featurephilia/story/countries-that-pay-highest-starting-salary-for-high-school-teachers-1861565-2021-10-06.


Network, The Learning. “The American Teacher's Plight: Underappreciated, Underpaid and Overworked.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 15 June 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/15/learning/the-american-teachers-plight-underappreciated-underpaid-and-overworked.html.


Penna, Fernando. “Understanding ‘Hate against Teachers’ in Brazil: Fernando Penna: Tay.” Taylor & Francis, Taylor & Francis, 26 Nov. 2020, https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9780429325878-11/understanding-hate-teachers-brazil-fernando-penna.


Reilly, Katie. “Exactly How Teachers Came to Be so Underpaid in America.” Time, Time, 13 Sept. 2018, https://time.com/longform/teaching-in-america/.


Swissinfo.ch. “Swiss Teachers Enjoy High Regard.” SWI Swissinfo.ch, Swissinfo.ch, 2 Oct. 2014, https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/swiss-teachers-enjoy-high-regard/4352030.


“Teacher's Day in Brazil.” Rio & Learn, 15 Oct. 2013, https://rioandlearn.com/teachers-day-in-brazil/.


“Teachers Starting Salaries.” Jobs.lu, 16 Aug. 2017, https://en.jobs.lu/news/teachers-starting-salaries/#:~:text=The%20best%20paid%20are%20in%20Luxembourg&text=Hence%20at%20primary%20level%20Luxembourgisch,paid%20teachers%20in%20the%20Union.


“Teaching / Education Average Salaries in Brazil 2022.” The Complete Guide, http://www.salaryexplorer.com/salary-survey.php?loc=30&loctype=1&job=50&jobtype=1.


Zach. “What Is Considered a Good Standard Deviation?” Statology, 10 May 2021, https://www.statology.org/what-is-a-good-standard-deviation/.


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