An Australian teacher posted a letter on Facebook explaining why she’s fed up with the state of education.
If you thought the U.S. was the only place with education woes, think again. An Australian teacher is going viral after she shared a scathing letter detailing all the reasons she’s finally fed up enough to quit her job after teaching for more than 30 years.
Kathy Margolis posted the open letter on Tuesday and says it’s a copy of one she wrote to the Courier-Mail. In it, she takes the school system to task for what she calls a “crisis” in education and says “someone has to listen to those who are game enough to speak up.” She explains that she’s decided to look for a new job — something she describes as “not easy for a woman in her 50s” — because she “cannot continue to do a job that requires me to do what is fundamentally against my philosophy of how it should be done.” From her Facebook post:
“Teachers have very little professional autonomy anymore. We are told what to do, how to do it and when it has to be done by. Never have I experienced a time in my profession where teachers are this stressed and in real fear for the mental health of not only themselves, but the children that they teach. The pressures are enormous. And before we get the people who rabbit on about our 9 to 3 day and all the holidays we get, let’s get some things straight. No teacher works from 9 until 3. We are with the students during those hours. We go on camps, we man stalls at fetes, we conduct parents/teacher interviews, we coach sporting teams and we supervise discos. And of course there is the lesson preparation, the marking, the report cards. Full time teachers are paid 25 hours a week. Yes you read that correctly, 25 paid hours a week. In any other job that would be considered part time.”
Also a problem? The curriculum, which Margolis says used to be based on play and interactive learning, but now “teachers who used to run lovely play based programs (which might I add work beautifully) are teaching children sight words and how to read and write alongside subjects like history and geography.” She adds:
“In my teaching career I have never seen so many children suffering from stress and anxiety. It saddens me greatly. Teaching at the moment is data driven. We are testing them and assessing them and pushing them so hard. I get that teachers need to be accountable and of course we need assessment but teachers have an innate ability to know what kids need. A lot of it is data for data’s sake.”
Margolis says her main point in writing the letter is that teachers need to speak up, but too often they’re afraid of retribution. She says, “We need to reclaim our profession, but we are powerless.” If her letter sounds at all familiar to you, that’s because it’s exactly what we’re going through with our own teachers and children here in the States. Everyone is stressed out, worried about the curriculum, and lamenting the loss of recess and play-based learning. We’re losing incredible teachers who are disillusioned by how bad things have become. I don’t know if it should be comforting or depressing to know others are also going through similar struggles.
If there’s one bright spot in all of this, it’s that every single time one of these letters gets posted, it draws more and more attention to the issue and inspires real change. In the U.S., we’ve done away with No Child Left Behind and are finally starting to see a growing majority push for reform. Things won’t improve over night, but when they do improve, it will be because of teachers like Margolis who are dedicated to their craft and don’t hold back in reminding us what education should really be about. Margolis finishes:
“I write this because I love children and I can’t bear to see what we are doing to them. Last year, as I apologised once again to my class for pushing them so hard and for the constant barrage of assessment, one child asked me “if you don’t like the things you have to do then why are you still a teacher?” That question got me to thinking long and hard. I had no answer except that I truly loved kids and it was with a heavy heart that I realised that wasn’t enough anymore.”