"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Monday, May 23, 2016

Mistreating Our Teachers Means Mistreating Our Children

John R. Lutzker, Director of the Mark Chaffin Center for Healthy Development and Professor of Public Health at Georgia State University in Atlanta gave the following response when asked the question, "What sort of person—a teacher, no less—could treat a child so disdainfully and abusively?":
"People who abuse and neglect children are much more likely to have experienced abuse or neglect growing up, or witnessed it, or had parents with mental illness. People are resilient and survive but anyone who experiences those things is more likely to perpetrate child maltreatment."
The above came from an article by Ellen Seidman on her blog, Love That Max. Seidman also mentioned that Lutzker did not want parents to be too alarmed but there were indeed "modern-day realities that make it particularly key for us to be on our toes". What is worth noting in Lutzker's response is the relationship he perceives between what a teacher feels and how he or she treats his or her students. It is true that abusive teachers are probably just a few bad apples. Nonetheless, the teaching profession has been under attack during the past decade. Such an emotional toll is only expected to leak into the classroom.

Above copied from The Tutor Report

With education research, the connection between a teacher's knowledge and student's learning is well established. In fact, even the motivation and interest a teacher brings into the classroom leads to a positive engagement of students with their learning. There is, however, a negative relationship as well between learning outcomes and a poor emotional status of a teacher. Students who are in classrooms where the teachers do not feel good appear to underperform as demonstrated by a recent empirical study.

The study, Teachers’ Emotional Exhaustion Is Negatively Related to Students’ Achievement: Evidence From a Large-Scale Assessment Study, by Uta Klusmann, Dirk Richter, and Oliver Lüdtke, is scheduled to be published in the Journal of Educational Psychology. The study includes more than 20,000 fourth grade students in Germany. The authors examine the relationship between students' performance in mathematics and a teacher's emotional exhaustion as measured in a four-point scale in response to the following items: “I often feel exhausted at school”; “Altogether, I feel like I am at the end of my rope”; “I often notice how listless I am at school”; “I sometimes feel really used up at the end of a school day”, with 4 as strongly agree and 1 as strongly disagree. The results are summarized in the following graph provided in the paper:

Above copied from 
Klusmann, U., Richter, D., & Lüdtke, O. (2016, April 7). Teachers’ Emotional Exhaustion Is Negatively Related to Students’ Achievement: Evidence From a Large-Scale Assessment Study. Journal of Educational Psychology. Advance online publication. 




What is so remarkable in the above findings is that the relationship is strongly moderated by the type of students in the classroom. Classrooms with a greater percentage of language minority students are much more affected by the emotional exhaustion of the teacher. It therefore appears that students with greater needs are far more sensitive to a burnout teacher.

Children with greater needs often demonstrate delayed development. These students frequently show substantial academic gaps from their peers. Socio-economic status likewise translates to academic gaps. It is perhaps not too much of a stretch then to hypothesize that the emotional state of a teacher is a lot more consequential in classrooms with high poverty. In a country like the Philippines where a large number of children come from poor families, it thus becomes much more important for the government to ensure the well-being of teachers. Unfortunately, it is in countries like the Philippines that have children of greater need that teachers are not treated well, thus explaining in part poor learning outcomes.


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