The problem with teachers as heroes

At first glance, the phrase “teachers are heroes”, often paired with adjectives like “silent”, “true”, or “unsung” is an easy way to praise, thank, or sympathize with teachers for their never-ending work. But beneath the pretty words, hides a dark side to the oft-used phrase. In isolation, the phrase could have been used to convey the thankfulness of parents and students to a teacher. However, due to its frequent use in the professional world, the term “hero” has become almost synonymous to “sacrifice”. Teachers’ self sacrifice has become standardized, where they are expected to be constantly superhuman and vilified when they are not. In the end, teachers who are not able to keep up with the exhaustive constant self- sacrifice can feel inadequate. 

Not only does this expectation dehumanize teachers, it deflects attention from the underlying issues that teachers are currently propping up with their health; mental, physical, and emotional. Why is it that we rely on the overburdened teachers to hold the line when the federal, state, and local governments fail to provide the resources and funding that schools need to fulfill their basic academic purpose and then also be social service providers?

Teachers shouldn’t be martyrs for just wanting to educate their students and give them the tools to succeed in life.

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