Who Has Less Respect–Teachers, Parents, Students?

I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me… All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.

–Jackie Robinson

A Harris Poll, reported by USA Today, Thursday, January 23, finds fewer adults believe teachers respect parents or students–and fewer adults believe parents and students respect teachers.  In its first such survey, Harris asked 2,250 adults last November 13-18, 470 of whom have children in grades K-12, “to compare their memory of ‘school dynamics’ when they were students with today.”

The percentage of respondents who agreed with the statement “students respect teachers” dropped from 79% to 31%. Responses were virtually identical between adults surveyed with and without children in school.  The biggest drops:  respondents’ impressions of the percentage of parents who respect teachers, which has dropped from 91% to 49%.  Students’ respect for teachers also plummeted, from 79% to 31%.

Coincidentally, I’ve been reading Malcolm Gladwell’s new best seller, David and Goliath.  The author writes, “when people in authority want the rest of us to behave, it matters –first and foremost–how they behave.”  He calls this the “principle of legitimacy.”  And legitimacy has three requirements.

  1. People who are asked to obey authority have to feel like they have a voice–if they speak, they will be heard.
  2. The rules have to be predictable.  They will be roughly the same tomorrow as they are today.
  3. Authority has to be fair.  No one is treated differently.

Anyone who has been in a classroom knows the teacher must earn the respect of his students.  Any parent knows the difficulty of practicing the three requirements of legitimacy.  Any student trying to respect his parent(s) or teacher knows when the requirements of legitimacy aren’t being met.

Parents have the first and greatest responsibility to respect  children and teachers.  Children are expected to respect parents and teachers and be respected by them.  Teachers must respect and be respected in order to teach.

Question:  Can it be otherwise?  

You can leave a comment by clicking here.