Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

You are here

The Roles of Teachers

jkang's picture

"These problems are emotionally draining for teachers, testing the limits of their capacity for empathy.  If they erect a protective barrier betwen themselves and their students' lives, then academics will surely suffer; but they cannot turn themselves into social workers, a role for which they have no training. 'I give a chunk of me to everyone,' Alina says. 'I know who these kids are.  I know what I can get out of them, but I can't change their lives.'"   (Kirp 19).  

I think it is important that educators care for their students and understand their lives outside of school.  However, the quote above illustrates the limitations of empathy and potentially caring "too much."  It makes me wonder, what is the role of teachers in such situations?  Is it really possible to find balance between caring about their students while not getting emotionally drained?  What support can be given to the teachers to aid them in such situations?  

It also makes me think about funding in urban schools.  I am sure there is a correlation between lack of funding in schools with higher rates of violence and less support for students' emotional and mental health.  In these circumstances, teachers may have to step into the role of counselors, social workers, and other support staff.