10 conclusions about Roman education, after two years of working as a teacher

Between 2020 and 22 I spent two years as a teacher of secondary education in Bucharest, a respectable period of time, during which I can notice, I say, enough of some features of the local education – part of it, part of modern temperaments. Below is a list that is not meant to be exhaustive and cannot be exhaustive, but that it claims to be honest. Especially since my educational adventure is over.

1. Bullying of proper teachers is severe, teachers are not protected by anyone (on the contrary, they are put on the ropes)

In these two years of teaching, I’ve come to the conclusion that mental endurance should be the first quality of an integrated teacher. Good preparation is just a close second, but not by a long shot. I can say from my own experience that a teacher who does his job in the right way, ignoring the pressures of management and especially parents to give the highest grades, will be harassed to the bone. The means of pressure are varied – from “anonymous” attacks and insults on the Internet, to “repeated calls for order” in the director’s office, to permanent “pear” blackmail at the Inspectorate (a sinister attempt to intimidate, never put into practice before).

Although “bullying” has entered the public debate in our country, I have not heard much talk about the mental health of teachers in Romania, even if it is a major topic. With teachers intimidated by the (very common) set of parental and administration concerns, the Romanian school has slim chances of recovery.

2. There is a very negative and destructive cult of compromise and negotiation of rules

The inflexibility of rules is the basis of civilization, and the starting point for the development of any great society. It was no coincidence that the Romans said “Dura lex, sed lex” meaning “law is hard but law”. When every man in society has his own law, or version of the law, chaos occurs. Here’s what I found out pretty quickly as a teacher: Nothing is more repugnant to the little Romanians I’ve taught than to have (prevent a saint!) a deadline for their submissions on a project, or a low grade! The rule of thumb, verified countless times, was that students went over the allotted time, tried to get extra time, or just ignored the deadline. In the case of grades, especially in papers, the rule was that grades should not be accepted and assumed, but rather an attempt to ‘increase’ and ‘sweeten’ them. So, the complete lack of seriousness, acceptance of the rules of the game, the assumption of self-esteem.

What can I say about projects copied entirely from the Internet (immediately ranked first for plagiarism) or about solutions copied from “audience wisdom” sites like Brainly? What else can I say about parents who show up at school periodically to have a discussion with me about how to “correct” (read: “How do we fix that?”) the undervalued media (perhaps because of plagiarism, they are considered by them to be an excused escape!) ? Choosing the easy option, compromise, is not easy (as some might be inclined to claim!), but it “leaks out” with serious consequences in adult life as well.

Intellectual theft today, from the Romanian school (visible even higher … the government!), translates over the years into incorrect citizens, evaders in all areas, parents who resume the circle of compromise with their children. Which is tragic for the future of Romania.

3. Young teachers are constantly humiliated

Nothing is worse, in today’s Romanian school, than being a young teacher. In my two years in the schools where I studied, there were few exceptions of people with whom I could establish a cordial relationship based on mutual respect – a kind secretary, seniors willing to “take the pulse” of the new generation and share their experience, a gossip mechanic, or Nice guard.

For the rest, I and other fellow colleagues of my generation were subjected to a wide range of criticism: word-of-mouth, apparent disregard, administrative harassment (and a prolific sacred bureaucracy!), unwarranted complaints, and treatment “from above” from all sorts of middlemen of regional origins who suddenly turned to ” Urban toasts, insulting appearance, etc.

I will always remember the arrogance of those who feel they are “feudal lords”, who do not move through the prism of the holder’s position, safe in their warm place in the Chancellery.

Of course, this climate of rejection, which is often harsh, can sap your momentum. My case, was not always ready to respond to the infatuation with the cynicism of the whip and the wall of the vertical, but I had countless colleagues who turned against the “hospitality” and “packed their bags”, leaving the system – some of whom did not return until the end of the year! However, the Roman school could not afford to lose anyone, be it students or teachers. More young teachers, on whom our future depends (which is not a figure of speech)!

4. Grades are an absolute fantasy

This is one of the fastest and most powerful detectors. With a simple look at the catalog of a random school (however, I had the experience of two grammar schools and a national college with grammar lessons) I can note, in amazement, how many of my classmates (I would estimate the percentage in 70-80%) gave the same score to all students, and always Score… 10. I say it with all ownership: you can’t give the same grade – always 10! – For all the children. Once, because many of them are functionally illiterate, have difficulty dealing with elementary concepts and have serious arguments with logic and the Roman language, what can we say about the general culture! Then, because even a talented child can have a bad day!

You can relatively easily identify teachers who have graded as realistically and honestly as possible, since, as usual, there is variety in their evaluation model. They were a “matrix glitch,” to quote a famous one.

Rather, a uniformity in assessment, a desire not to “disturb” (children, parents, managers, etc.) in the right degree, which would have destabilized the status quo undoubtedly comfortable for all parties and would have affected their image of a “team man” (Read: resilient), it was evident in many of my fellow teachers I met. Personally, I regard this renunciation of morality (and of legal obligations, in the proper gradation) as a cancer of today’s Roman professors. An immoral court, but also an illegitimate court.

Fearing Do Not Disturb, these teachers bring truly gifted children to the same level as the class idiot. But in doing so, they destroy any notion of merit. If even a career illiterate (which also annoys the class), in Romania, 10 (in fashion, painting, music, religion, various choices, etc.), just like the best students, then where is the difference? I’m not talking about the hypocrisy of the national exam codes, which, under the pretext of GDPR, hide the same treacherous desire not to “do harm” with stupidity, rudeness, and lack of performance. Roman education is charade and because grades are often an absolute fantasy.

5. Most teachers have the mentality of a writer

Of course it is a strong sentence that may sound too categorical. However, it is the reality of the school (Romanian, for now, because I have no other foreign experience) that it is very easy to get carried away, as a teacher. You can easily get into an easy and self-sufficient routine, especially when you gain a little ‘experience’. Once you “understand” how things are, life as a teacher can become very comfortable, in the bad sense of the word. This, despite the fact that all programming documents of education (laws, school programs, etc.) speak of the teacher as an individual who must show creativity, which activates and amplifies the potential of his students, who are constantly developing, etc.

No matter what good things looked like on paper, the reality in Roman schools was much different. A real culture shock. In practice, I have met many teachers with the mentality of a civil servant – remind me of the words of Eugene Ionescu of Ociga without Sembri – “a civil servant does not joke”. And I don’t read books, I might add.

I met quite a few people in the Roman school who could be “suspicious” of cultural interests, beauty, or any desire for development. In general, the discussions in the Chancellery revolved around the holidays and the “bridges” of May 1 (real obsessions, anticipated with the utmost attention), the rudeness of students, various gastronomic recipes … In very few cases, I discovered anything remarkable interest in raising the intellectual level and spirit The moral of the students, or (forbid the saint!) the well-being of the nation… Absolute concerns, most notably phanariot, were: job security and possible “cicubuc” (read: meditate every day).

So, the legal expert Caragjal (not Penny, he was also a former school inspector, so a man with a good knowledge of the system): “The Roman is born a stockholder, lives as an administrator and dies as a pensioner.” Here is the Romanian recipe for happiness, which many of my former colleagues applied (and will continue to apply) daily, on the principle: “Time passes, we give another ten, and the paper goes.”

6. Nobody from the Romanian Education Department had even a vague idea/intent to improve the system. On the contrary, everything is done to destroy it

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