Teachers Can Have An Unintended Impact On Students’ Futures

Lecya Santiago, Opinion Editor

Hurtful words that can be said by teachers. Photo by Vy Nguyen.
Negative words that can be said by teachers. Cartoon by Vy Nguyen.

A teacher tells a student that their choice of college major is “useless,” ensuring that the student will never follow their passions again. Teachers are a part of the formative years of every student’s life, watching them grow from children into well-rounded adults. Through attempting to encourage students to follow a sustainable future, teachers mislead them with criticism and opinions of what they believe is right. Teachers can, unfortunately, harm their students through criticism and bias.

The most common reaction towards a creative major is usually, “you won’t make enough money with that.” Art degrees or creative writing degrees are disregarded because of future job opportunities. Still, the reality is that many artists (or art-related workers) can make more than a livable wage. According to a study by MIT, a comfortable salary is considered $68,808 per year, and art directors make three thousand more than that.

Stereotypes as well plague a majority of comments made by teachers: “you’re going to be a starving artist” or “it’s impossible to get published.” These claims are discouraging to young children and teens; psychologists state that such comments regarding children’s futures can lead them to have a critical inner voice and severely affect their mental well-being. As teachers, the goal should be to aid and welcome passion, creativity and encourage students to become someone they can be proud of in their lives. Children will absorb criticism into their minds like sponges. Even though the comments aren’t made to be an attack, children will personalize it and make the criticism about themselves.

At a younger age, kids typically are endeared towards jobs that tend not to make as much or gain much notoriety, but that doesn’t exclude them from jobs people work in. Art is so prevalent in our society that no matter the place, it can be valued for its appeal or usefulness, like a decorative portrait or a painted mug. 

Non-scientific poll of Woodson students. Graphic by Vy Nguyen.

Teachers look over history, but education in the world would be non-existent without the subject. It’s useful in many ways that adults might not notice. Every job is valuable in the way that there will always be someone who requires a service, specializing for those jobs are just as important (or meaningful), and discouraging statements shouldn’t limit opportunities.

To keep a student engaged and leaning towards a decent future, fostering a healthy, positive space to grow in is important. Teachers spend almost as much time with children as their parents do, so their impact is tremendous, and it should be a job taken seriously. Being kinder to children’s ideas will lead to future innovators. A child’s growth can become exponential once they acknowledge their true potential, but first, the work must begin with the teachers.