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Are Teachers The Backbone of Our Country?

Updated on October 21, 2010

A System, A Country

This question sparked another and yet another. What exactly makes anything a backbone of anything? What is the one defining feature of having a backbone that is so important to a country? Where is the correlation between teacher, backbone, and country?

Bear with me, as I tread this question. Somewhere is an answer and I know what my answer is. The harder part is explaining the reasoning behind it. And I have to start somewhere. This answer is a small part to a bigger picture, a different question, another time.

A spinal vertebrae is the ridge that keeps a structure rigid and is the focal point for all connections in the mammalian body. A network reaches out and connects with another network. A simple spark spreads across wires and splits into many different sparks, much like our neurological system and our computers.

A backbone is considered a very systematic network, a cohesive matter of a whole. A person with a strong metaphoric backbone is considered someone with a strong sense of self; a determination for what that person thinks is right; and a strength that says, "Don't tread on me". Basically, the spirit of that metaphor is innate strength that demands and earns respect. It's a system of a person's ability to survive and live.

The backbone of a country, then, would be similar to structure of the body and the essence of inner strength supported by that singular ridge connected to all other ridges.  What system, then, belies this country?  Is it democracy? Is it the will to live the way we want to live? Certainly, a system is in place, but is it helping the body of a whole to survive?  Does it carry out it's original intentions?

What Education Is And, in Turn, What Educators Are

Education has a unique beginning. So does schooling. So does our country. This is important because while the terms have evolved from the 1500s, the core of it remains the same.

Our country began with people who explored, stumbled across something new, and through many trial and errors of massacres, in-fighting, and slavery, reached the point of fully setting in principles of a young country.

Education, on the other hand, has gone through many different countries, eras, and people. The term itself goes as far back as mid-1500s. It, in its Latin roots, literally meant to lead or to bring out. Throughout the 1500s, it took on meaning as to 'train animals' and 'train children'. In the 1600s, it was a training for social norms and training for work.

The word 'schooling' itself is such an interesting contradiction. The term came from segh, which evolved into skhole. It meant 'holding back', in its literal translation. In a less literal translation, it was a term that meant 'holding back from too much work'. That translated, eventually, into leisure. Leisure! Who would have thought?

However, our country had different ideas. Take a look at some of John Taylor Gatto's work in its entirety and you will see what I mean. The history of our country's schooling is painful. The purpose was a militaristic purpose, the idea taken from the long-gone Prussia, in the 1900s.

So, our educators take part in that. Perhaps unknowingly, perhaps blindingly, in the trusting pursuit to mold minds innocently in the guise that learning has to be taught.

"Nothing that is worth knowing can be taught." -Oscar Wilde


So, Are Teachers The Backbone of Our Country?

I believe I can honestly answer here when I say yes and no. Yes, teachers are trained, dedicated, and systematic. They serve a purpose of our country's schooling agenda. But, no, it's not in the spirit of resolved, strengthened spine of united citizens. It is to strengthen the government, not the people.

They do help fulfill the original purpose taken from Prussia. You are disciplined and trained, still, much in the way of military. Here are quite a few examples to consider.

  1. You must ask before you can do basic function like using the bathroom.
  2. You must learn ONLY the material provided to you, so that you can pass standardized tests.
  3. You must be excited to learn the materials teacher provide you, and then drop everything at the sound of the bell. Nothing must ever be fully completed or absorbed.
  4. Your self-respect and how good you are to your parents are entirely dependent on the grades your teacher gives you.
  5. Your parents are not qualified to teach you anything, only to back up everything the teacher is teaching you.
In reality, a question like "Are teachers the backbone of our country?" is a testament to the success of this system.  A backbone to the country should be the people.  Not a profession or someone defined by their career, like, 'teacher'.  No, the strongest backbone in history of mankind has always been the citizens, as a whole.


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    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 

      8 years ago from St. Louis

      Ha,ha. "It hurt my brain." I think I strained mine a bit too. Well done!

    • Sunny Robinson profile imageAUTHOR

      Sunny Robinson 

      8 years ago from Tennessee

      Pcunix, I find that my kids are learning things they aren't learning in school. And most of my memories of school doesn't bring up anything I have actually learned. What I ended up learning was from life itself. Best teacher ever, if you ask me.

      Georgie, as far as manners, behavior control, and things of that sort, those cannot be taught in classrooms. I know teachers feel obligated, along with teaching their lessons as dictated, but it's not their job. That's why I included the quote: "Nothing that is worth knowing can be taught."

      Essentially, if parents and adults in general cannot model what they believe to be correct manners, the children will emulate what they observe. It isn't the system, nor the school, nor the teachers that are responsible for that. It's society, community, and families. If that fails, school isn't going to help it. In fact, it's going to make it worse.

      Thanks for the comments, you two. :)

    • Georgie98 profile image


      8 years ago from UK

      I know a couple of teachers who teach young kids and they are tearing they're hair out, just trying to help some in their classes learn, listen, sit still, shut up and basically just co-operate.

      The teachers have taken it upon themselves to control and try to get knowledge into any child. Whether they are ones who behave or not. But what these people haven't signed on for is to teach them things that should've been learnt at home, like manners and how to behave.

      Schools are deteriorating drastically here in the U.K. I know that if I ever have any children they will go into private education. I'm studying now aged 28, and my tutors are great, but lower schooling is substantially worse.

    • Pcunix profile image

      Tony Lawrence 

      8 years ago from SE MA

      I was thinking about the defects of our education just the other day.

      When I need to learn something, I am not satisfied until I feel that I know it, but in school all that was needed - and all we had time for - was to know it well enough for the test. As you note, nothing an ever be fully studied until much later.

      Oh well - that was a long, long time ago for me.

    • Sunny Robinson profile imageAUTHOR

      Sunny Robinson 

      8 years ago from Tennessee

      It hurt my brain. I'm done thinking tonight.

    • SognoPiccolo profile image


      8 years ago from Wilmington, Ohio

      I definitely like how you approached the subject. Very awesome... =)


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