23 Nov

I get very defensive MOST times-if not ALL- when I hear the words posed to me: “what do you do?” or “where do you work?”

Yes I know they are simple questions BUT simple questions that borders on rudeness and discrimination.  I get defensive because more often than not, I know what their reaction to my answer will be.  I find that people discriminate against teachers to the point where if you have a certain profile, “you do not look like a teacher”.  The question I always ask is “what does a teacher look like?”

I am sick of persons belittling the teaching profession, and conveniently lauding it as one of prestige.  I have been an educator for over ten years and for that period of time, I get the same question, deliver the answer, and get the same discriminatory response. Here is the story of my most recent.



It was Wednesday.  I sat at my desk marking scripts when I received a call from a film director who was contracted to do a television commercial for an organization.  She wanted me to be the talent and play the role of the teacher. I was thrilled because this meant money. She explained that she was contacted suddenly and had a short time to get things done, thus she was selecting me because of my experience in these things.  She explained the concept and I liked it and was also excited about working with her but my excitement turned to apprehension when she expressed that “the clients want somebody who looks like a teacher”.  My defense went up and I asked my customary question “what does a teacher look like”?   I didn’t expect her to have the answer especially since she was only the film director and it was not a request of hers. She instructed me to submit photographs of myself in professional attire for the clients vetting and approval.  With the advent of technology, I was saved from the trouble of rushing to a photo studio to get one. I immediately retrieved two from my phone and made the submission.  I waited. Anxiously.  Later that afternoon, I received an email that had me fuming. The email explained that I was not approved for the commercial because “I was too pretty.”


What are they implying about teachers?  Such a comment is certainly insinuating the negative. Is there a specific profile that teachers should have that I do not know about? I must be missing something.   I find that statement to be so rude that I felt the need to tell these people exactly where to get off.  If someone says he/she is lawyer, does anyone question the appropriateness of their appearance?  When a doctor is out of his medical garb and expressed that he/she is a medical doctor, does anyone question the legitimacy of his appearance for the profession?  I don’t think so. I could go on and on.  So why it is that people questions the appearance of someone who says he/she is a teacher? The funny thing is, no one has ever been able to give me an appropriate answer to my customary response of ‘what does a teacher look like”

It is appalling too that in this era, persons could be so shallow in their thinking.  I grew up in a time where the ratio of mature and young teachers was ten to one but that time is long gone.  As everything and everyone in this world continue to evolve, teaching profession was not left behind as spectator.  So this archaic perception that persons have of teachers needs to stop.   The same way other professions do not subscribe to a specific profile (outside of uniforms), similarly teachers do not. When comments like those are made, they have a negative connotation.  Let us just stop.  And I will continue to be defensive about the statement…well, that is until people get it that teachers are not archaic; teachers are not old; teachers don’t look like mad people on the streets; better yet, until someone can prove to me that there is indeed a specific profile that teachers MUST have.

If you  have a perception of what teachers look like; if you are a teacher and have had a similar experience or seen this happen to someone; if you think this is just a much ado about nothing; Share your thoughts. I really need to hear from you.

*picture taken from Google images




  1. WHAT DOES A TEACHER LOOK LIKE? | educatordorrainereidinspires - November 23, 2013


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