Athletes & changing adult diapers…REALLY???

polar plunge 4

By Kenneth Justice

~“I just couldn’t do it……I tried, really I did, but at the end of the day I quit

The other day at coffee the young woman sitting next to me took a break from her studying for a test and struck up a conversation with me, “I’m studying to be an optometrist” she told me, “Actually, I already have all of the coursework done for a degree in nursing but on my first day working my clinical’s at the hospital I couldn’t take it and quit

Apparently, on her first day at the hospital the young woman had to change the diapers of three different older adults….and she couldn’t stomach the experience and informed her advisor that she wanted to change majors.What the young woman thought ‘hospital work’ entailed, I don’t really know. I even asked her that exact question and all she could do was laugh, “Honestly Kenneth, I thought I could handle the dirtier aspects of hospital work but I guess I found out that I couldn’t” she said

The conversation reminded me of my experience years ago when I volunteered at an Alzheimer’s assisted living home. Many of the patients were in the final stages of Alzheimer’s and rarely understood where they were or what was going on. I would watch the men and women nurses who tended the Alzheimer patients and admired their patience and diligence in working with these people. The pay was incredibly low, and I remember wondering why anyone would want to work in such a demanding and difficult job for such a low amount of money.

It’s a strange society that we live in; teenage singers can make millions of dollars singing pop songs that other people wrote for them…….and yet the men and women in human service who are truly making a difference in the lives of others barely make enough money to get by in life. One of the lowest paid professions in the United States is that of teacher; with the exception of rich suburban communities….most teachers make well below the national average of salaries. It often perplexes me that the men and women we hire to teach our children are so underpaid.

Yesterday I read a story about a football player that wants to renegotiate his contract….he wants a long-term deal worth about 82 million dollars. There are have been many stories written over the years about our culture’s obsession with sports and the propensity we display in paying athletes millions of dollars to kick, hit, or throw a ball……yet underpay the teachers, human service workers, and ministers who dedicate their lives to serving people.

But what good does it do to complain about this disparity if we aren’t going to do anything about it? Last week a woman and her daughter came in for a quick coffee, “We’re on our way to gymnastics” the mother told me, her daughter couldn’t have been any older than 8years old. “It’s a full time job to do gymnastics; we go five days a week for three hours each day, but my daughter loves it!” she said.

Of course I didn’t condemn the mother, and I don’t want to disparage her in this article. But I can’t help but wonder; if we as parents are going to involve our children in athletics 3 hours every single night…..then can we really complain when we see athletes getting contracts for a hundred million dollars and see our teachers barely making above the minimum wage?

– One of my concerns with our culture’s fascination with sports is that I wonder if it is not robbing our children of their childhood

My favorite sociologist, Neil Postman wrote, “Even childhood games have been replaced by organized sports (Little League, Pee Wee, etc.) which are more like adult sports”. Have we robbed our children of their childhood by involving them so much in organized athletics that their childhood looks more like that of a professional athlete than that of a grammar school kid?

There is a lot of injustice in the world….and I guess on one hand this area of income disparity isn’t the biggest deal. After all, with massive numbers of people in Africa suffering from HIV, and all of the thousands of innocent victims in the Sudan suffering from the cruel and inhumane ongoing saga that plagues their land I suspect I need to be careful in not over-stating the issue of income disparity.

Yet nonetheless, I believe it is important to keep an ongoing conversation going about the subject of income disparity; and specifically about being more thankful for the people who work those ‘difficult’ and sometimes ‘dirty’ jobs. Shouldn’t we as a culture be more thankful for that nurse at the hospital who changes diapers…then for the man or woman who can run really fast?

Of course, maybe I am wrong. Maybe it is more important to celebrate and cheer our sports hero’s than to be thankful for teachers and all of those people who sacrifice their lives to serve the public.

Time for another coffee,

Kenneth

 

If you haven’t heard I’m currently on a tour of 100 coffee houses around the U.S. & Europe visiting with readers, bloggers, and everyone else in between. I’d love to have coffee with you! Check my homepage for dates and locations.



Categories: Culture & Society

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60 replies

  1. I have to agree with you. Nurses and teachers are the worst paid, under appreciated jobs, and yet the most important. Far more important than paying for a politician to buy a new Z3 or a soccer player to score a goal.

  2. This is an injustice and inequity so timeless it is like original sin. I’ve never understood why some of the kindest most self-less work we do as mankind goes unrecognized and unrewarded while the opposite – the showmanship, the drug-induced superstardom- gets celebrated. They say we all want to be entertained. Fair enough, but if this is indeed our driving impulse then what hope is there for change?

    • Many may disagree with me but I believe it begins with parents; if mothers and fathers are going to make athletics the priority with their children…. than doesn’t that simply teach the children that ‘sports is what really matters’ ? I wonder; the parents who take their children to volunteer at homeless shelters and soup kitchens; what kind of adults do those children become?

    • Hmm. Both my kids do sports and excel at it. I am proud of them for what they achieve. But I celebrate their academic achievements in equal measure. Recently I told the elder of the two that the thing she did to make me proudest was an act of kindness she performed to a poor person on a bus. I think sports and entertainment and academics etc are all fine and healthy if as parents we help our children to understand and value the right set of things. What do you think?

    • I’m definitely not ‘bashing’ participation in sports…… for me its a matter of priorities. If our children get the vibe that our priorities are more focused on their athletics then I suspect that will reinforce within their minds the idea that sports is more important

    • i don’t know about that…my nieces and nephew play or played volleyball and basketball in high school…and yet one is in dental school and wants to help impoverished communities, and my nieces are both social work majors in colleges.

  3. Regarding a teacher’s pay, a couple of observations. #1-They get a pension that the rest of the “real world” doesn’t. So when I have to take money from my salary and store it away, teachers, by and large, don’t. #2-They are offered tenure on day 1 of their THIRD year teaching, making it very difficult to fire them. Again, the “real world” isn’t usually afforded the same luxury. (In what world does tenure IMPROVE performance? Anybody want their doctor to have tenure?) #3-The usual teacher works 180-200 days, well below the 240-260 that those in the “real world” put in. #4-Due to the teacher’s union, their pay is not open to the free market, where amazing teachers would most likely make great money and under-performing teachers would be paid less or fired.

    I have spoken with dozens of Education majors around various colleges and universities and it is my experience, that many are entering into the profession for the EXACT reasons I just mentioned, NOT because they have a passion to shape and mold the future generation. Obviously I am painting with a broom here, as there are no doubt, countless teachers entering and doing the profession for what would be best described as altruistic motives.

    • I don’t know the work you are in. It doesn’t seem like education. The things you said are wrong and offensive to teachers and others.

      My pension contributions came from my salary.
      Tenure offers some job security.
      180-200 days at 12-14 hr/day plus courses and advanced degree work at night and in summers.
      There are no free markets available to earn the imagined great pay of your “real world”.

      Your broom is too course.

    • Thank you Jim, for your candor and feedback. I am not sure where I was wrong and it talking about these issues is by definition, offensive, then you have big problems.

      Can your pension payout EXCEED your pension contribution? You and I both know that answer. It does not work that way for me and the rest of the non-pension workers.
      Why are teachers uniquely offered absurd job security? Is being critical of job security offensive?
      You agree to the amount of days that you are contracted to work, again, not sure how that is offensive.
      We agree that there is no free market to dictate what a teacher’s salary should be.

      Tell me where I was wrong, because I don’t see it.

      Did you have any interest in answering my question as to when tenure actually improved performance? Or do you just want to accuse me of being offensive? My father-in-law is a principal, my mother-in-law teaches and I have spoken at length with them on this topic. In addition to the countless classmates in college etc that have gone on to become teachers. Besides the fact that as a tax payer, I AM THE ONE PAYING! Are you really telling me that I am categorically NOT allowed to criticize the system that I have to pay for?

      Was I represented at the negotiating table? Nope. You had tax payer recipients arguing with tax payer recipients over how to divide tax payer funds. Good for you Jim in Iowa. Strange that no tax payer was allowed in on the conversation. And when we do, we are summarily offensive. Great. I see our kids are in the hands of those that have ample critical thinking skills.

      Throw a rock into a pack of dogs, the one that yelps, is the one that got hit. I guess it hurt, huh Jim?

    • Good day, sir. I was an education major, and many of my friends and family were teachers, or are currently teaching, including my father, mother, father-in-law, and uncle.

      I do agree that tenure should be reformed. I had a high school band teacher who was known to be violent and abusive… to this very day, he has never been arrested or fully censured for his crimes. Crimes? Yes. He assaulted the choir teacher in the cafeteria when I was there, in full view of faculty and students. When he taught at the crosstown school many years before that, he slammed a student up against the wall.

      The usual teacher works 180-200 days, well below the 240-260 that those in the “real world” put in.

      Cite your sources, please. Many of the teachers I know took up jobs during the summer, not all of them directly related to their profession. I also do not believe this accounts for time spent grading papers, giving students additional help, private instruction (pretty common for music teachers, actually), field trips, fundraisers, student/teacher conferences, open houses, and more.

      We agree that there is no free market to dictate what a teacher’s salary should be.

      What about private schools? What about tutoring/learning centers? For-profit higher education institutions? How much hold do teacher’s unions and tenure have there?

      Does this account for any expenses that teachers often assume– paying for materials out of their own pockets? Perhaps more free market principles might account for this, if teachers could itemize and submit all of their expenses that are not covered by the school. But then, we would have accounting hours that would need to factored in to your previous argument.

      Besides the fact that as a tax payer, I AM THE ONE PAYING! Are you really telling me that I am categorically NOT allowed to criticize the system that I have to pay for?

      On a slightly different topic, this reminds me of the old “steak on food stamps” that has morphed into “no donuts, chips or cookies on food stamps” argument. I’m on disability– Medicare/Medicaid. Y’know, “fixed income” poor. I don’t like it when I find people abusing the system– like summer meal programs. When people abuse the system, it makes it harder for me… always. More paperwork, more hassles, and often more judgment. So I appreciate what you are saying.

      Yet I find much to be desired in your tone.

      This specifically:
      Was I represented at the negotiating table? Nope. You had tax payer recipients arguing with tax payer recipients over how to divide tax payer funds. Good for you Jim in Iowa. Strange that no tax payer was allowed in on the conversation. And when we do, we are summarily offensive. Great. I see our kids are in the hands of those that have ample critical thinking skills.

      Throw a rock into a pack of dogs, the one that yelps, is the one that got hit. I guess it hurt, huh Jim?

      I would that Cousin Mitt and the Romneys (oh yes, he’s related, in a somewhat distant way) know that some of the Pratts on the other side of his family tree are some of the 46%, like me. I haven’t paid many taxes lately, save for sales tax.

      Was I represented at the negotiating table? No, much of the time I am not. I have not the money to get people to speak for me. But I would like to think that I should still be allowed to be part of the conversation. I work hard for my children, even though I am not employed. I work very hard to make sure my children have an excellent education– there is hard documentation of this, and I know my children’s teachers will say so… betwixt the IEP meetings for my son with autism, and the 504 meetings for my daughter with ADD.

      I would go on, but I don’t think I should have to. And if you would likewise speak in such an authoritarian tone to me, know that I will ignore you.

    • Mea Culpa for the tone, so very hard to convey passion without conveying insult or being authoritarian. I will reject the idea that my even bringing these issues up is by definition offensive and that I was wrong.

      I was offered a teaching position, which I rejected. On the contract it stated the pay and that I would be obligated to work 189 days. One of the points made in the article is that teachers are summarily underpaid. I contend that considering they are only obligated to work 180-200 days, that they are in fact, able to find additional work during their long breaks. And that income, or at least the opportunity thereof, should be factored into their wages. If they so choose to take a long break, that is their prerogative, but working 40-60 days less than a typical career should be expected to have a negative impact on the amount of income. Certainly there are teachers that pick up extra work, and in doing so, enjoy more income. But I digress.

      Again, I apologize for the tone, and I hope that I clarified my position regarding the contract length.

    • No. It didn’t hurt. I consider the source.

    • Please explain then, how I was so offensive? And I apologize if my tone was more insulting than passionate (see above).

  4. Your post reminded me of another which I read this morning, strangely you both touch on the same subject and both present it really well. I’m not sure of the politics of sharing a link to another post but felt it’s ok as it’s not promoting my own work, you can delete this comment if I’m doing something wrong http://23thorns.com/2014/02/19/snorkelling-lessons/

  5. Being one of the low income caretakers of this world, I applaud this posting. I love what I do. I have worked in the schools a special education aid and as a Nursing assistant in home health care and assisted living nursing home. I have to give the nursing student credit forgetting out in the beginning, it never gets any easier. It is a job you either love or hate. No in the middle here. Right now I work in an adult day program for Developmentally Disabled adults. I love my job and the clients I serve. I am poor but happy and feel like I am making a difference in their lives.

  6. I completely agree with you about the overpaying of people who work in the entertainment industry. I don’t believe it is healthy for the individual or the economy.

    As for sports, there are a lot of great things that one can get as a result of sports…don’t throw the baby our with the bath water. In school, we used it to break up the academic subjects which helped the students quite a bit. It was also used to teach the students non academic skills such as team work.
    Quick story: I had a class that was about 50/50 jocks and nerds. We were playing kick ball and as often occurs, the nerds didn’t pay attention half the time and missed balls etc. This would cause the jocks to yell and scream at them and call them names. I decided to use this as a tool to shift their viewpoint a bit on teamwork and help. I split the group up, took all of the nerds and made a team with me as the captain. I put all the jocks together and made the biggest loudmouth a captain and challenged them to play against our team. We had one week to prepare…daily practice. I did what I do, improved skill, encouraged improvement and forgave mistakes…with encouragements of getting closer. Meanwhile, my team could overhear the jocks yelling and screaming at each other during their practice. We would all laugh because they were so good at it but seemed so angry with it. While we were not so good but getting better and having lots of fun. When it came to the games week. We did lose a few, but we also won a few and that surprised the jocks and bolstered the nerds. They realized they could do things that weren’t in their comfort zone. The jocks realized that people get better with positive reinforcement and that being a team means building strength into the whole…not just being the single star player.

    By the way, no disparagement is meant by calling half of the class nerds. from what I hear, they have done pretty well for themselves…usually found in the top end of the income scale. 🙂

    Also, a simple way to avoid wasting time in school studying a career that you just can’t do is by insisting that high school students do internships in the field of their chosen career. This gives them hands on experience in the field and will help them determine if this is the make or break field before they invest time and money on college.

    I worked a few years as an executive in a skilled nursing facility. I agree with you about the staff who care for them…wonderful people, so happy that someone isn’t put off by the job as it is SO needed. But, I couldn’t do it myself.

    • Understood… I took it as “the students that were book smart”.

      I’m a self-professed geek, and I have some hobbies that are considered highly technical or intellectual. Now and then, people will tell me, “I’m dumb” with whatever subject I’m attempting to help them with– usually computers. I strongly discourage them from saying that. I usually say such things take time, practice, and immersion.

      While there are areas that people may have talent or an exceptional mindset for (I don’t have the mindset for programming, coding, and scripting, even after trying off and on for 20 years), I think many people sell themselves a bit short and can do fairly well with encouragement, as you so brilliantly related.

  7. Well said! My mother has worked in human-services for many years and she was always having to work two jobs because her pay was somewhere around $8-10 dollars per hour. She worked very hard and her clients/patients always appreciated her compassion for them.

    I like the point about young children having their childood robbed because it is so true. Parents are fist-fighting each other over matters of their kids sports matches and teaching them very bad ways of looking at the games they are playing and sportsmanship.

    It is so engrained in our society anymore that even so-called “recreation” leagues that are supposed to be “just-for-fun” have become ultra competitive leaving no genuine environment to play a sport for fun.

    Sorry kids!

    • Parents are fist-fighting each other over matters of their kids sports matches and teaching them very bad ways of looking at the games they are playing and sportsmanship.Parents are fist-fighting each other over matters of their kids sports matches and teaching them very bad ways of looking at the games they are playing and sportsmanship.

      Precisely. This has been written on quite a bit, hasn’t it? I remember when my daughter was showing some athletic talent. When she was young, many would ask about gymnastics instruction– I’d usually say, “we haven’t the money.” I was hoping she’d participate a little bit in school sports when she got to middle school. When I mentioned this to my grandfather, he immediately talked about competition and his competitive outlook. I had great difficulty explaining that is not her mindset at all. She has decided for now to participate in band… having been a music student for many years; I am okay (err, who am I kidding? I’m pleased as punch) with that, especially as she chose the instrument I started band with as well.

  8. Another beautiful post! I love how you think!

  9. Perhaps the discrepancy comes from the fact that an athlete can always change a diaper but a nurse never can run so fast 🙂 I’m just being silly, Kenneth. I see this incovenient being global as a fresh teacher or nurse has no more than 300 dollars per month here…and both of them try to make extra money for paying their bills by teaching extra-school even with a kid of first grade (saying they cannot explain so well in the classroom and they need more teaching hours like to prepare the kid extra-school not even afterschool) This drives me nuts as where is the world are we going to?

  10. One key thing I believe kids learn in playing among themselves is logic and collaboration as initiated by themselves. In organized programs, the coach is in charge, and they are going as taught. There’s a huge value in learning to be self-directed. But there are also values in organized sports. Maybe it’s all about the timing and age appropriateness of the child.
    And yes, I’m a teacher, but I’m not going to get on a soapbox about pay. I’d settle for general respect from the public first.

  11. You are touching a nerve in me.
    “One of the lowest paid professions in the United States is that of teacher.”
    I am a teacher, 38 yr in classroom plus 6 after in education related work. I agree whole heartedly that our priorities are backward toward paying the wrong people the most, etc. I never entered the field for the big bucks. I enjoyed teaching others about things I felt were interesting and important. Still do on my blog.

    I listen to Obama and others, such as NY mayor Deblasio, speak of the importance of pre-K and early childhood education. Hooray I think. Keep talking and say it loud and clear.

    This problem in our society has so many facets it is impossible to address them in a comment box. But…keep talking, Kenneth and say it loud and clear.

    • Jim, I’m sure you will agree with my friends and family that told me parents’ involvement is a critical element for kids’ success in school. They tell me this regardless of their political affiliations, and I also believe that getting parents “fired up” will touch on many of those facets. How will we do that? I don’t know. I do my best, for now.

    • That certainly is true in all of the instances I have seen. Keep doing your best. Thanks for your comments.

  12. Good morning from my end of the world…I have to say when I saw the title..I flinched…this is the field I have entered…and I find so many people..trying to persuade me to do something else that pays me my value…and whoop..that sets me off into a tailspin..
    We have such an inflated sense of what we should be paid..and who should be checking us out..and what is our value..and our value is or should be based on what is within us…
    I agree..professionals and such are vastly overpaid…and there are some great disparities in paychecks for those who do 99% of our labor..me being one of them…yet..and I preface it with this..
    We have created this picture this dynamic…
    Teachers pay..and common workers pay..not good…but we have set up an economy..where we buy items that are hugely overpriced and really not needed…why does anyone need a 500.00 I phone..when many people do well off of a 1000 minutes..10.00 a month program..? So yes..there appears to be a problem..and the money made seems to not support our purchases…but perhaps our purchases is the problem..
    I am in the field of nursing..which is hard work..but it is hard work on the soul…physically anyone with two cents could do the job..we simply have lost the ability to properly care for ourselves..noted through obesity…etc.
    Starting pay is about 12.00 per hour and that is as a CNA..the stepping stone to nursing..and a most valuable position..because you have the most contact with patient and your impact is huge…. Figuring to be.. roughly with taxes..about 1600.00 per month…How can anyone not live off of that and well…
    We have set up in our heads that we need this or that…and in truth we do not..I take the bus all over..and walk…I make multiple meals and use them over the week..I have a very simple phone..which half the time is not active..and my communication is email…why not…?
    We are lazy and conditioned..and believing we deserve something we do not…and it shows in how we treat people…
    Life is not about making a superstar…life is about finding that star..that smile..that light within each one..and using it to do what we know to do..love each other..and make this road fantastic…
    For the lady in your story..she seems sad to me…glamor and notoriety is not found in changing an adult brief…but then life is not about that..it is about paying it forward…one action at a time…her choice set off a chain of events…just like my choice to glove up..and provide someone with a bit of dignity..different directions we go…

  13. OMG, its 2nd time I read it. Brilliant. Its really open my eye about Ironic thing. I remember, when my father was still alive, he was so active to help people for education. We live in village, we need education for poor people, the government is too busy with corruption. My father open afternoon class for primary school. The teachers were willing to not to get paid for teaching.

  14. I think we are to consumed by what the pay check. and throw all our eggs in one basket. not thinking about the rest.
    it is why Idols is so popular as well or x-factor or the voice. it is the one ticket to be rich.
    And a shame that our teachers make so little money and being so important giving a wisdom for future life.

  15. Great post! I work in medical field and going for nursing, so I’ve seen it and done it all. Experience is the master of art. You have a good point about comparing the salary between saving and caring for people’s life and entertainment, fun sports, looking sexy jobs.. Lol
    Few mom’s I talk to often tell me that the main reason of forcing their kids to sports is because that would keep them out of trouble, out of drugs.. It’s that weak parenting feeling; living in fear and insecure.

  16. I totally agree with you about the sports thing- I just don’t get it. There are so many studies out about the benefits of free play for kids, yet parents continue heading faster in the other direction, pushing their kids into structured activities. Even in neighborhoods with families, the streets are eerily empty. It’s sad. How many of these kids are really going to be professional athletes? Is the time and money, the loss of childhood, really worth it? Values are so mixed up. I see tiny ones out at soccer practice, barely out of diapers!

    • I think part of it is that parents may be structuring things tight so kids have less time to get into trouble. Yet I would concur with you this has been taken too far in some cases.

  17. at it’s core, it’s about the value we place upon the most vulnerable among us…children, the elderly, the weak of mind and body and spirit, the poor. You’re a good man…

  18. I think some parents involve their kids in team sports because they want them to get some fitness in. When kept as just a game, it can be a great way for children to make friends. I’m from a very small town, so – outside of high school sports – athletic teams were pretty low key. All the towns around me had baseball clubs with girl and boy teams. There was really no pressure because the whole thing was volunteer from the snack stand to the coaches. It was one of the big ways our small towns made money.

    I agree that people take sports way to seriously, but I also think they have the potential to bring people together. For example, my mother was my coach all the years I played softball. When my brother started played softball, she volunteered as his coach as well. It was a family event. It was actually quite impressive how all those boys respected my mom. I remember one game, my brother’s team showed very bad sportsmanship. At the end of the game, she took them all aside to give them a piece of her mind. Here she was, a 5 foot 2 woman sternly talking to this big 6+ foot athletes and they all hung their heads like sad puppies. As they should have for the kind of behavior they displayed. I just think it’s cool they displayed that kind of respect for her.

  19. This is one of my pet peeves! Why do we place so much value on sports figures? Is it because they are physically superior to us and we want to emulate them or is it because we want their power and money. Our values are upside down; we should be striving to make our mark on society by the amount we do to help others not by sitting on the couch and cheering for an athlete to be superior for a day, a month or a couple of years? What’s the benefit of that?….probably only in the enrichment of the athlete’s wallet, certainly not his soul.

    • I think much the same could be said for anyone that is considered an entertainer– quite a few athletes cross over into TV/film and music. Many of them date and marry actors and musicians.

      Part of this I understand as diversification and investment. The income of all these professionals is typically unstable, so I understand they need to have options. But yes, I do think our values are still backwards. You’ve been reading recent news about the NFL, yeah? I definitely think the U.S. Senate should review their tax-exempt status.

  20. Having also worked in an Alzheimer’s facility, I fully understand why a person would do that job for such little pay. I wasn’t paid much and also changed my fair share of adult diapers, but it was still by far the best job I’ve ever had. I loved going to work everyday. Those people were so precious. My feeling is and was then, that these elderly people paved the way for our generation. They raised us, educated us and led us to where we are today. The least we can do for them is to repay their hard work with love, kindness and care.

    Should healthcare workers, educators and pastors get paid more than athletes? Yes! Those athletes provide hours of entertainment, while they *play* with their friends all day. But the others sacrifice their lives, their time and their family doing the dirty and hard jobs that are required to better the health and living conditions of people. Obviously, one is more important than the other. We can do without sports, but we can’t do without health, morals or education.

  21. It does seem that money is the main thing that people consider when choosing careers. I have no idea why sports are more important to most people than other things. People notice that sports stars make a lot of money. I think this is why so many parents want to turn their kids into athletes. If that is what the kid wants to do, then that is nice for them, but most of the time children lose their childhood in favor of what the parent thinks is best.

  22. It’s the same all over the world. Coming from Croatia, I can say our society embraces succesful athletes, especailly football (soccer) players and with every World Cup or European Championship we forget about all the problems and live and breathe for those few games. Meanwhile, we grumble and resent our teachers and our medical workers when they dare to speak out and ask not for a raise, but for the goverment to not cut their wages. I often hear someone saying about teachers: “What are they complaining about, they have a two month vacation every summer.” Not long ago, most respected members of our society, especially in rural parts of my country, were the “three kings” – a doctor, a teacher and a priest. Today, it seams, we are not talking about deserved respect and true value, but about social recognition based on instant fame and fortune. Unfortunatelly, many future athletes and pop-icons who are just toddlers today, fall victims of their parents ambitions and unfulfilled personal dreams.

  23. You are speaking my language! As a former teacher and health care assistant, I completely agree with you! “Even childhood games have been replaced by organized sports (Little League, Pee Wee, etc.) which are more like adult sports” I don’t typically do this, but if you have time, you might be interested in a post of mine from last summer about my youngest son wanting to “play” tennis. http://wp.me/p3fJ4S-A0
    My son may never play tennis again…

  24. I agree with you, Kenneth.

    In Australia, some of the most important jobs e.g. nursing & teaching can be the lowest paid (depending on whether you work in the private or public sector).

    Some nurses tasks and skills are just as important as the higher paid doctors. These days, teachers have to teach, do parenting, help those in their class with special needs and so on. Some teachers need to do supervision and parenting because both parents work and have not time to guide their children in life skills. Its up to the teachers to install manners, create community awareness, care for the environment, learning to share, stop bullying etc. Much of this should be instilled by the parents.

    Teachers in the private sector have some 13 weeks annual leave per year in Australia, but much of this is spent on school camps(which now are often run in term holidays), studying, lesson preparation, gaining more skills in extra-curricular activities and so on. A lot of their 13 weeks holiday is not a holiday. (I only have worked in the private school sector for 17 years I must admit – not the state school system, so can’t comment on that).

    …….and nursing, well, if the nurses weren’t so skilled and observant, I think many more patients might die before the doctors do their ward rounds. Besides who wants to deal with personal hygiene and cleaning unsightly open wounds and such. I think nurses earn every cent they’re paid (and deserve more).

    I think it’s sad that parents fill their children’s outside school hours with classes, formal sports, music lessons and a whole lot more – I rather see children riding bikes, climbing trees and having friends to play. I’d rather see children outdoors in the fresh air (where possible). Of course, its no longer safe to allow younger children out in public parks or local streets to play unsupervised, with all these strange pedophiles and molesters. And then there are the neighbourhood gangs who think nothing of ‘picking’ on innocent younger children.

    Personally, I think some of the social problems we have today are the result of violence in computer games, movies and TV and other media. Why do news and magazines highlight the social misfits and local crime? Why doesn’t TV news incorporate good news?

    …..and with both parents working to pay the bills, there is not necessarily an adult to supervise what their kids do, indoors or outdoors. Sometimes both parents need to work to pay the bills, but I might also suggest sometimes both parents work to pay for the unnecessary extras like additional dance classes, gym memberships, mobile phones, computers, several tvs, 2-3 cars or expensive holidays. In Australia you need close to $100 to take the family to the movies or a major sporting match (if you include snacks).

    Whatever happened to good old-fashioned camping, hiking, BBQs, taking the children to the local pool or leisure centre, school friends for sleep-overs and so on? Have these inexpensive activities fallen by the wayside in favour of paying other people to look after your children for you (or do your parenting for you)?

    Sometimes I wish children could have the childhood I had 50 years ago. Call me old-fashioned, but it was a lot of fun and SAFE.

    • “whatever happened to good old-fashioned camping, hiking….”

      I think people are too busy attending their children’s sports games so they don’t have time to do much else 😉

  25. Thanks for this post. I agree completely. And there are some great replies. But, I think there is a nuance too this issue that many of the replies do not pick up on and perhaps you do not highlight either. Much of the focus seems to be on money and whether we pay the “caretakers” enough. I think it’s also about who we admire. And in fact, many do admire nurses and teachers. But you are right, we admire athletes a whole lot more and are willing to pay them immoral amounts. But focus for a minute on the issue of who we publicly and regularly admire in front of our kids. A few weeks ago I noticed on the front page of my local newspaper an article about a figure skating event for kids. The kids were quoted as saying they want to be like the Olympic athletes when they grow up. That is not because these athletes make a lot of money. It’s because they are admired and praised in public. Kids see and hear them talked about on television all the time (around the Olympic season). It struck me that the people our kids see us admire and look up to are in fact athletes, entertainers, and perhaps highly paid professionals. Our kids see these as options for their future.

    I would argue that there are individuals that we admire even less than teachers and nurses, and who often are paid less as well. These are artists and scholars. Although we do not pay K-12 teachers or nurses as much as they are worth, we do admire them. How often have you heard a research biologist, or a philosopher, or a historian, or even a professor of literature publicly admired for his or her scholarship. Yes, there are a few exceptions — like Nobel Prizes in various fields. But these are few and far between. And these awards do not tend to be things that our kids even hear about (especially from parents at home). How are they going to begin to think that they could be a great mathematician, or physicist, or visual artist. In contrast, athletes are featured every day in a whole section of the paper. Entertainers are center stage on our televisions every night. Is it any wonder that kids want to be athletes and not scholars or artists? Like us all, they want to be admired, to be respected, to be looked up to. We need to do some deep soul searching about what we are encouraging our kids to be.

  26. I wear nappies at day and night

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