Letter to a teacher

A teacher wrote to me: “Teaching profession in my country is pathetic. No one can live with the low salary and lack of respect, but students these days are the worst. They do not come to class to learn but find the easiest way to pass tests, and if needed, they will cheat. Many do not have study skills and have no interested in learning. All they want is a degree to justify their time in college.”

I wrote back to him: “I understand your feeling as sometimes we do need to voice our frustration to a friend. I know that it is hard to teach in the environment as you described but every person who chooses to be a teacher know that. They know that they will not be able to make a decent living as teachers, but have you ever asked why do they choose to be teachers?

I have seen situations like what you have described in every country, including the U.S. For years of teaching, I do not think students have changed much. No matter where they live, or what school they go to, they are all the same. There are students who come to class unprepared, and if necessary, they will cheat. There are students do not learn much but still want a degree, and if needed they will complain about the tests, the program, or even the teacher. But there are students who work hard and do well. There are students who need teachers' help and your guidance. There are students whose lives will improve significantly because of teachers' support.

As teachers, we should NOT complain about students or the profession BUT we should about the current education system, the training program, and the way our students are being educated. Our students deserve better. They need to be educated in the best education system possible so they can learn more, grow more, and succeed in their profession. Our students are the hope for our country, they are the future of our society, and they will be the one who defense of our country. They need a decent education so they can fulfill their responsibility. Teachers who complain about students will give a wrong signal that the students are to blame, not the education system. As teachers, we have the responsibility to speak up for our students. They need an improved education system that allows them to contribute to our society. They need the most up-to-date curriculum so they can catch up with students from other countries. They need the knowledge and the skills so they can help our economy. And even for students who may not have the motivation, they are still our students, AND as teachers we can make a difference in their lives. Students may not know now but soon they will appreciate and grateful to teachers who educate them. A few days ago, I saw a graffiti on the wall: “If you can read this, please thank a teacher.”


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University

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