I was standing outside the building where my office is Thursday morning thinking about various things, as one does, listening to Marina & the Diamonds’ Hollywood, and a revelation occurred to me about celebrity and education and how messed up society’s values can be.

Why do we idolise singers, actors and sports players? Yes, most are talented.  Yes, most work hard at their craft.  But really, they’re only entertainment–one piece in the puzzle of a healthy, functioning society. However, I pay to listen to someone singing or acting like someone they’re not much more often than I pay to learn. I’m sure you can relate.  Why is that? Do I like entertainment more? No, of course not. Media plays a central role in shaping what we’ll pay for and what we’ll not, as well as what we value, misguided though it may be.

Why does media focus so much on entertainers so much compared to others in this societal puzzle? Do they deserve so much money?  Do they deserve our idolisation?  No. They’re no more special than you or me. They spend no more time improving their craft than a lot of us do.  Their skills are no more important than ours are.  In fact, we are teachers.  Think about that. Value that. Our role is arguably more crucial to society success.  Our influence is arguably more crucial to the lives of our students.  At minimum, one must admit there’s an imbalance in value and by value, I mean both political, socio-cultural and economic.

Imagine if everyone valued educators as much as celebrity.  Governments would ensure education received the funding needed. Parents and students would trust our judgment. Younger students would aim to be like us.  Don’t forget the millions we’d make.  Narrow this to language teaching–a niche that helps the world improve communication between people of different cultures and language; reduce miscommunication so there’s less misunderstanding between those people.  What could we do for ourselves, our families and our students if we always had the best of contracts and working conditions?

Maybe though, it’s a blessing that we’re not valued like entertainers.  We don’t get scrutinised for such superficial reasons.  Our jobs don’t depend on the evaluations of those who aren’t trained in our field.  We don’t get blamed for contributing to the failure of a movie even if it was doomed from the start.  Oh wait, maybe we do.

In the end, do we believe we deserve more than what we’re getting?  If so, why are we putting up with what we have?  I’m really just saying what Marina & the Diamonds so poignantly sing.  Here’s Hollywood.  Enjoy!

Leave a comment :)
 

10 Responses to Obsessed with the mess

  1. Vicky Loras says:

    Hi Tyson!

    First question: how do you get all these great ideas for posts? : )
    Second question: I hope I am not behind the times that I didn’t know Marina and the Diamonds – sorry ; )But what they sing about is absolutely right. As what you write.

    Not to show that I am anything special, but because I like doing it, I spend a lot of my own money on attending professional development seminars and workshops. Sometimes the amounts are high, sometimes low – most of the times I am pleased with the events. The only big thing I have attended here in entertainment was last year when my friend gave me tickets for my birthday for the Michael Buble concert. To tell you the truth, I would like to attend more concerts (for example, when Coldplay come I am definitely going), but I often ask myself the question: is it really worth the money? Are the entertainers worth the exorbitant amounts they earn? Two weeks ago, I was walking with my sister in Zurich and we saw Michael Stipe crossing the road. Our initial reaction was: “Wow! Did you see…? It was…” After a while, I thought, he is a human being like all of us. So…?

    As you say, if these amounts were spent on educators, the money would actually be spent on something more worthwhile. For the reason that we do something that has an impact on people’s futures. We work days, nights, forget to eat, drink, worry, do everything for our students, sometimes with a cost on ourselves.

    I think this is one of your best posts ever, Tyson! You touch upon a very important subject.

    Thank you,
    Vicky

    • seburnt says:

      For the most part, keen professionals, like members of our PLN, end up often footing the fees for our own professional development. It’s a shame really, especially when conference tickets and travel costs really add up.

      Regarding celebrity, it is something I’ve often recognised–what makes them so special that people go nuts over them? It’s their media coverage really. There are a billion talented musicians and frankly, beautiful people, but without the media attention, they are nobodies. Shame really, since I’d like to see that attention and funding go towards education instead.

      Thanks for the continual support, Vicky. It’s appreciated.

      • Vicky Loras says:

        Absolutely – so many teachers out there paying their own expenses. Why? To become more educated and help their sudents, schools, themselves.

        You are right – the media are like a magic wand, transforming nobodies into stars that people literally worship.

        You are very welcome, it is a pleasure and this post is a must-read.

        Thanks so much for this!
        Vicky

  2. Carolyn says:

    I’ve always been shocked by the amount of money thrown at sports. I’m talking as an entertainment and not as part of a school curriculum. My last concert was the YEAH YEAH YEAHS and they were worth the $30 I paid for the ticket. I think my students feel that they get their ‘money’s worth’ from my class.

    I think in our field there is also a certain amount of responsibility on the programs that educate the teachers to provide realistic expectations on teaching opportunities. Teaching jobs may be available, but few that can actually support you financially!!

    • seburnt says:

      Very true, very true, in all senses of yoru comment. However, I pay over $100 (and sometimes even more) for the concerts I tend to go to. Total rip off when you still need to look at the screens to get facial expressions. Celebrity is far too important to our society.

      As far as teacher training programs being responsible goes, I wholeheartedly agree and believe TESL Toronto’s page on careers to really be the most transparent: http://tesltoronto.org/careers

  3. Tyson,
    There have been times and places in history when people tried to control society and decide whose work is worth more and should be getting more. It hasn’t worked well.
    It is such a pity that education isn’t valued more, it would make everyone’s lives so much better, not just our lives as teachers. But what is happening today isn’t just about teachers. from what I read about politics in America, politicians with first rate educations who are well versed in history and languages are not particularly sought after…
    Thanks for always keeping your readers THINKING!!!

    • seburnt says:

      Yes, I don’t think it should be controlled by any external organisation; I just want things to be equal for the time, effort and talent put into the work. And yes, those American politicians are quite the bunch.

  4. Tony Gurr says:

    Tyson,

    Great post. Love the site so I gave it a “nod” –

    http://allthingslearning.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/will-the-real-4c%E2%80%99s-please-stand-up%E2%80%A6/

    Take care,

    T..

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