Three Myths For TeachersJune 15, 2008
Education has long been enough of an ideological battleground for there to have been philosophies which have developed their own mythologies. A further factor in the promotion of myths for teachers is the fact that before the internet much false information was transmitted through photocopied sheets and teaching had particularly good access to copiers and printing machines. As a result there are many teaching myths repeated to students by education lecturers, transmitted around the internet, or simply quoted as fact by teachers who should know better.
Here’s three of them trawled from the internet. I’d be interested to hear if you have been told any of these myths, whether you thought they were true, and whether you can suggest any others I could add to the list.
Myth 1: The following are rules for teachers from 1872:
1. Teachers each day will fill lamps, trim the wicks and clean chimneys.
2. Each morning the teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the day’s session.
3. Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs to the individual taste of the pupils.
4. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they attend church regularly.
5. After ten hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or any other good books.
6. Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.
7. Every teacher should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of his earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society.
8. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity and honesty.
9. The teacher who performs his labours faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of twenty-five pence per week in his pay, providing the Board of Education approves.
Actually, many variants of these rules exist, from many countries. We can safely assume that it is fake simply because there is no consistency in any version about where it is meant to be from. I was first shown them on my PGCE course by a lecturer who seemed convinced they were genuine.
Myth 2: As every SENCO knows; Einstein was dyslexic
With proper recognition and intervention, dyslexics and individuals with ADD become successful individuals using their talents and skills to enrich our society. They may take their place alongside other dyslexics/ADDs, such as Woodrow Wilson, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and Nelson Rockefeller.
Einstein suffered from dyslexia. He is a clear example of a person who would be labelled as learning disabled in today’s educational system. With the right approach to education, these labels cannot prevent great accomplishments, as proven by Einstein and others.
Albert Einstein – He could not talk until the age of four. He did not learn to read until he was nine. His teachers considered him slow, unsociable and a dreamer. He failed the entrance examinations to college but finally passed them after an additional year of preparation.
There are also variants of this about many other historical figures.
Actually, Einstein’s biographers, e.g. Pais (1982), do not confirm these stories and his academic success leaves very little grounds for thinking he had any form of learning disorder, let alone one severe enough that it could be diagnosed posthumously.
Myth 3: Ancient Writers show that kids were always this badly behaved and that adults were always just as worried about behaviour.
Have you ever heard the following quotations? They all seek to indicate that any modern concern about the young is misplaced by suggesting that similar concerns have been expressed in other eras:
The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.
From Socrates (470BC-490BC) according to
Or alternatively Plato (428/427 BC – 348/347 BC) according to
Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.
From Cicero (106BC-43BC) according to
I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words… When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly disrespectful and impatient of restraint.
From Hesiod (circa 700BC) according to
The world is passing through troubled times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike in speech, behaviour and dress.
Peter the Hermit (died 1115AD) according to
or “Peter the Monk” [sic], according to
What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?
Plato (428/427 BC – 348/347 BC) according to
Actually, a quick search will reveal that although these quotes appear many, many times in many, many places, you will soon notice that no source includes the text in the original language or a reference to any academic text where it can be found. All of them appear to be twentieth century inventions.
Pais, Abraham, Subtle is the Lord: The Science and Life of Albert Einstein, Oxford University Press, 1982