Sunio: The mantra we burdened them with

WE SEE them as contemporary heroes for living noble lives as educators, counselors, and second parents. However, it’s high time we debunk the adage that “teachers are heroes”.

It’s a title that comes with a load that were forced on them, something that they were expected to carry, but they should not supposed to be doing so, in the first place.

Before being anything else, teachers are employees and with rights and responsibilities. They have a prescribed number of working hours and other roles to fulfill, such as being a mother or a father at home. Most of all, they are ordinary people with limited time, strength, and capabilities at their disposal. However, because they are dubbed as ‘heroes’, we expect them to go and do beyond the ordinary, to sacrifice and give up some portions of their lives for their so called ‘calling’.

Teachers report at school from 7am to 4pm and usually stay in their homeroom ‘round the clock. Some give extra labor to supervise afterschool club activities. Even after their office hours, they still have to do unpaid overtimes at home to check papers, compute grades, and even create teaching materials for the next school day. They often have no choice but to pull all-nighters to write lengthy lesson plans, now, daily lesson logs, and many more paperwork. Even at night, we still expect them to work as teachers, then report early in the morning to school again.

To most teachers who are also parents at home, they have to perform their tasks as mothers of fathers as well like cook meals, wash clothes, and to make sure to spend ample time with their kids.

There have already been reports of teachers collapsing because of the tremendous workload, both at school and those that they have to take home. Moreover, if you fail to do even one of these things – including becoming a decent parent – you would already be branded as an incompetent teacher or an ineffectual parent. Teachers have no choice but to sacrifice personal time and give up on rest, yet sometimes, most teachers are still having a hard time fulfilling the unwritten responsibilities and not dare miss a single one in order to live the life of a noble educator.

Not to mention other teachers who had to cross mountains and rivers, or travel long distances to reach their classrooms every day, or those who share their food to students who brought nothing for lunch.

How can you work all day, be a proper parent, and still be a teacher at night?

It’s because they are heroes whom we expect to have ‘supernatural’ capabilities and gives much sacrifice. But should they really be doing this much?

They are not even paid for the extra hours or at least enough for the labor they do at night, nor in their club activities, or for the lengthy lesson plans, the scraps of cartolina they have to cut for their classes, the counseling and monitoring they do for the learners, or the extra 30 students they are teaching (some classrooms have a class size of more than 60, especially in public schools).

But we take all their toiling for granted because anyway, they are heroes. They can do it.

But should we really get used to it? Should we really accept the unhealthy state they are in?

At a certain extent, we can owe our dipping literacy rates to the conditions our educators are currently in. It could be that their efficiency as teachers are reduced because of the enormous and unreasonable workload that they have to carry. We have to consider that they are normal humans who cannot do too many things all really well.

Others might argue that teachers have recently been given higher wages anyway, or that they are treated with much respect. Nonetheless, with the amount of work they do now, some of them are bound to break down in the long run. They either lose interest on their jobs, or their instructions may become inept. And no, it’s not because they are irresponsible. It’s going to be because they are tired.

So what should we call them? They are definitely neither heroes, nor Mother Teresas. We should start considering them as normal human beings who needs justice in their work hours and workloads so the system may take considerations of reducing their burden for them to be able maintain, or increase, their efficiency as teachers.
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