Saturday, February 28, 2004

Do as we say, not as we do
A few days ago a young lady of my acquaintance took a stand against her English teacher. Finding a minor assignment the teacher gave the third grade class tedious, the nine year old wrote something on a piece of paper and held it up. The piece of paper read "Strike". The teacher said it wouldn't make any difference. The young lady said "No, but it's fun".

But it did make a difference. That piece of paper caused a complete break down of discipline in the class, which ended in uproar, the whole class chanting "Strike! Strike!"

Were the young lady's parents upset by their daughter's actions? No, they were highly amused. They both thought the teachers deserved a bit of their own medicine.

Israeli teachers go on strike, or threaten to strike, at least three or four times a year. Their favorite strike times are the first days of the school year, after the summer vacation, and following the long Passover vacation in the springtime. This is, of course, putting cruel pressure on working parents.

Sometimes they make do with sanctions. These can go on for months. In protest against the government decision to cut the education budget, the high school teachers have recently decided not to take part in activities outside of school. This includes school trips. Of course, this is probably very popular with the teachers. Would you like to spend three days on the road, leaving your children at home, to sleep in nasty hostels, looking after a bunch of horrors? No, neither would I, but then I'm not getting paid to do it. It's not my job to teach children about knowing and loving their country, besides my own that is. The thing with these sanctions is that they don't just harm the kids. There is a whole industry that relies on these school trips: Bus companies, hostels, guides, and caterers, among others. These sanctions, thoughtlessly and selfishly, leave all these people without livelihoods. It's really very nasty of the high school teachers association, when you think about it.

Well, the school kids, bless 'em, are fighting back this time. And they know exactly how to do it - they've been taught by the best. The high school students in some schools held sanctions and strikes (Hebrew link) of their own last week, some even held demonstrations and burnt tires! From tomorrow it?s a nationwide strike. For a start, they're coming in an hour late tomorrow morning. This is one strike I support. Good for them! Enough is enough!