Teachers and spoiled brats

When in 1963, Andreas Papandreou decided to enter politics, references to him in that segment of the press that were kindly disposed toward him referred to him as the «professor.» Then academic titles ranked high with Greeks. Similarly in Germany, Chancellor Ludwig Erhardt was referred to by his academic title of Dr Erhardt. These days, in Greece at least, the value system has changed. Naturally an academic title is no guarantee of a person’s effectiveness as a prime minster, and even ordinary lawyers like Eleftherios Venizelos and Constantine Karamanlis can be capable prime ministers. In the prevailing scale of values – to a great extent determined, or even worse, reflected by trash television – professors rate very low in the hierarchy. Of course, the social disregard in which many academics are held is to some extent due to the members of that community themselves, just as with our own. However, this applies not only in the heart of the Balkans but also in Western Europe. France’s new National Education Minister Xavier Darcos – no doubt prompted by the imminence of parliamentary elections – has recommended bringing back the use of the second person plural between teachers and pupils, while also suggesting that pupils be required to stand up when a teacher enters the classroom and for pupils to know the national anthem by heart. In a poll carried out in Italy by the daily Corriere della Sera, over 90 percent of respondents said they wanted pupils’ respect for teachers restored. The question raised is whether this could lead to more state – albeit democratic – authoritarianism over young people. Should such a possibility suffice to make us disregard the need – even here – for greater respect to be shown to teachers, especially by spoiled brats who would otherwise never show respect for anyone unless they were to profit from it?