It has become fashionable for many teachers to refer to themselves as “educators.” My own preference is to reject this cold substitute for “teacher.” I’d much rather be called a teacher than an educator.
To me, the word teacher has warm connotations. A teacher leads a student of any age through the steps of learning, whether beginning reading or the taxonomy of insects. A teacher is patient and helpful, a firm but trustworthy, sometimes lovable guide to new information. A teacher’s prime goal is to teach and to see the student learn.
An “educator,” on the other hand, is dogmatic and judgmental. An educator propounds theories and demands that teachers implement them in their classrooms, whether they help children or not. An educator provides politicians with “input” for legislation that affects education. Educators tend to feel that ideology is more important than knowledge and that social engineering is more important than individual human achievement.
The word education
I do like the word education. My ninth grade Latin teacher taught my class that the word comes from e+ ducare, Latin for “to lead out of.” Education, he said, frees what is inside us. It furnishes our minds.
My idea of education includes learning about history, art, natural science, music, and literature as well as how to write, read, and do sums. Education is supposed to enrich our lives and lead us to our full potential as human beings. At least, that’s my notion of education: learning rich in cultural knowledge. But then, I’m a teacher, not an educator.
It’s probably significant that no mention of cultural content appears in the mission statement of the new Common Core State Standards:
The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.
Sounds more like job training than education.