Francis: “Teaching is a beautiful but badly paid profession”

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In today’s audience with the Italian Catholic educators’ union, UCIIM, Francis asked teachers “to love ‘difficult’ students more and said: “a computer can teach content. To transmit values you need a good teacher

“Dear colleagues, allow me to address you as such, given that I too have been a teacher like you and I have fond memories of my days spent in the classroom with students.” In his audience with the Italian Catholic educators’ union (the UCIIM – Unione cattolica italiana Insegnanti, Dirigenti, Educatori, Formatori medi), founded in 1944, Francis reminded those present that he too had been a teacher once. “I cordially greet you all and thank the President for his kind words. Teaching is a beautiful profession, … it’s a pity teachers are badly paid…because it is not just about the time they spend in school, but the time they spend in preparation, the time they spend on each individual student.  I think of my own country, where many teachers have to work double shifts just to be able to get a decent wage. But what state will a teacher be in after a double shift? It is a beautiful and badly paid job, because it allows us to see the people who are entrusted to our care grow day after day. It is a little like being parents, at least spiritually. It is a great responsibility!” “Teaching,” he added, “is a serious commitment that only a mature and balanced personality can take on. Such a commitment can be intimidating, but remember that no teacher is ever alone: ​​They always share their work with other colleagues and the entire educational community to which they belong.


“When you were born, in 1944, Italy was still at war,” Francis recalled. “You have come a long way since then! Schools have come a long way. And Italian schools have moved forward with the help of your Association, which was founded by Professor Nosengo Gesualdo, a religion teacher who felt the need to gather together the secondary teachers of that time, who identified with the Catholic faith, and who with this inspiration worked in the schools. In all these years you have helped the country to grow, you have helped to reform the school, you have especially contributed to educate generations of young people. Over the past 70 years,” Francis added, “Italy has changed, schools have changed, but there are always teachers willing to engage in their profession with that enthusiasm and willingness that faith in the Lord gives us.”


Indeed, “as Jesus taught us, the Law and the Prophets are summed up in two commandments: love the Lord your God and love your neighbour (cf. Mt 22,34-40). We can ask ourselves: who is a teacher’s neighbour? The students! It is with them that he or she spends their days. It is they who await guidance, direction, a response – and, before that, good questions!


The Pope asked teachers “to love ‘difficult’ students more … and there are some who really try our patience, but we have to love them more … those who do not want to study, those who find themselves in difficult conditions, the disabled and foreigners, who today pose a great challenge for schools.”


Moving away from his prepared speech, Pope Francis also recognised and underlined that “teaching is a beautiful profession, … it’s a pity teachers are badly paid…”. Here his audience applauded. “Because it is not just about the time they spend in school, but the time they spend in preparation, the time they spend on each individual student.” “It is unfair, it’s true,” he stressed. “I think of my own country, where many teachers have to work double shifts just to be able to get a decent wage. But what state will a teacher be in after a double shift?”


“If a professional association of Christian teachers,” he continued, “wants to bear witness to their inspiration today, then it is called to engage in the peripheries of the school, which cannot be abandoned to marginalization, exclusion, ignorance, crime. In a society that struggles to find points of reference, young people need a positive reference point in their school. The school can be this or become this only if it has teachers capable of giving meaning to the school, to study and culture, without reducing everything to the mere transmission of technical knowledge.  Instead, they must aim to build an educational relationship with each student, who must feel welcomed and loved for what he or she is, with all of their limitations and potential. In this direction, your task is now more necessary than ever. You must not teach just content, but the values and customs of life. A computer can teach content.  Instead there are three things that you must transmit.” Speaking off the cuff again, Francis said: “how to love, how to understand which values and customs create harmony in society.  For that we need good teachers!”


Francis pointed to a saint that is a good example to follow: “The Christian community has many examples of great educators who dedicated themselves to addressing the shortcomings of education systems or to establish schools in their own right. We think, among others, of St. John Bosco, the bicentenary of whose birth we this year. He advised his priests to educate with love. An educator must first and foremost show love.”


Teachers are “by nature open to the future, because there are always new generations of young people to whom you may transmit your wealth of knowledge and values. On a professional level it is important to update teaching skills, especially in light of new technologies, but teaching is not just a job: it is a relationship in which each teacher must feel fully involved as a person, to give meaning to the educational task towards their students.”


“I encourage you,” Francis urged at the end of his address, “to renew your passion for humanity in the process of formation, and to be witnesses of life and hope. I also ask you, please, to pray for me, and I cordially bless you all.


About The Voice Of Bombay's Catholic Laity

Bombay Laity Ezekiel’s Chapter 3 Task as Watchman 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18 When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for[b] their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 19 But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.
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