This post is written as a follow-up to the earlier post in 2010 and 2011 below:
This week, daddy has a patient, who is a school teacher coming to seek consultation for anxiety attack in the hospital. The patient is a nice and courteous gentleman in his late 30s, who suffers from anxiety attack (symptoms which include fast heart rate, trembling, giddiness, chest discomfort and sometimes fainting spells).
His panic attack was triggered when the school reopens this week and the stress in school caused him to have this unfortunate episode. Luckily his symptoms resolved after a period of rest in the hospital and he went home with some medications.
Are teachers today very stressed? Yes, they are very stressed, especially in the current education system. Both daddy and mummy have been teaching in the universities for a number of years and we can say that the students/parents today are very different from the students/parents 10 years ago.
Most people who are working today have 1 boss. If you are lucky, you have a nice boss, if you are unlucky, you have a nasty boss. But ultimately, you only have 1 boss. For those in the service line (eg sales or counter staff), you have 2 “bosses”, one is your real boss and the other is your customers which you also call them your “bosses” because they can either make life good or difficult for you.
For teachers, they have to deal with 3 different group of bosses. The students, their parents and the school administration (i.e their Principal, Ministry of Education etc.). Unfortunately, all 3 groups of them often do not agree with one another and that caused a lot of stress to the teachers. The students may not want to study and makes a lot of noise in the class, their parents want the teachers to teach their children but cannot apply corporal punishment (eg caning in the older days for naughty students) and the school Principal wants the teachers to stay back after school for different types of CCAs, organising National Day events, fund raising etc.
Our society has also become more educated and demanding. Parents today are quite different from parents 20 years ago. Today they demand more from the education system. This is the same across all service industry. My patients today are more educated and demanding, that I need to spend more time with each patient to explain their illnesses in more details and provide the different treatment options for them to decide. Many years ago, patients will normally listen to what the doctor recommends and agree without any questioning. The government has also realised this in the recent general elections that people want to be consulted more and not just top down decision.
Thus, if you look at the poor teachers, they are still stuck with having 30-40 students in the class, still having the similar teaching load as their predecessors 20 years ago, but they have to work longer hours with more meetings in the schools and with parents, and the students today are also more demanding and spoilt.
Daddy used to have a group of friends who started off as teachers 20 years ago, when we were still young and go for regular exercise together. Today, only 10% of them are still teaching, the other 90% have either quit teaching and become tuition teachers, changed career and worked in other industries etc.
How could the government improve the education system, since all of us have a stake in it, as our kids are in school now? They need to provide more time for each teachers (eg reduce their teaching load by hiring more teachers) to enable them to have time to engage the students and parents, and also let them focus what they do best, which is teaching. Not fund raising, organising community events etc. These can be done by hiring non-teaching staff.
Hopefully, there will be less teachers suffering from anxiety attack in the future.