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Parents Are Telling Kids That Teachers Have To 'Earn' Their Respect, Says A Music Teacher Who Strongly Disagrees

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High School Teacher Standing By Student Table Teaching Lesson

Teaching — especially in the United States — is both a challenging and demanding profession. Teachers consistantly go above and beyond for their students, yet often are undervalued and underpaid. 

On top of that, one public school educator believes many parents aren't properly instructing their kids how to treat their teachers.

A music teacher disagrees with parents telling their kids that teachers must 'earn' their respect.

In a TikTok video, a music teacher named Teresa responded to a comment from a parent, who claimed that her daughter has no reason to be polite if they haven't earned her respect first. Disagreeing with the parent's opinion, Teresa explained that many other parents have the same idea that their children don't need to respect their teachers until that respect is granted first.

"While I might understand where this mindset comes from, the problem is that we're teaching this to kids with zero context and zero nuance. There are three major problems that I find with just simply teaching a child that teachers have to earn their respect from day one," she said.

   

   

Teresa says that parents should be teaching their children that respect and kindness are a baseline condition.

When you walk into the classroom on day one, there should already be a level of respect, especially for a teacher, and you shouldn't be starting from below the baseline and working your way up. 

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She also believes children are encouraged to defend 'disrespect' with any type of reaction, no matter the setting. "I think we can teach them that if they feel as though they've been disrespected, there are ways to go around dealing with that type of situation without calling their teacher an effing b."

"I don't understand why we are trying to teach our kids to be violent and ugly even when someone else is not treating them exactly the way they want to be treated," Teresa continued. "When they're out in the workplace and grown and they're trying to hold down a job that they want to keep despite the boss not being the kindest person, they're gonna need to learn how to be a little bit more diplomatic."

There are ways to deal with people who are being truly disrespectful that don't involve violence or inappropriate namecalling.

The music teacher also expressed concern with children's behavior within the classroom — specifically when they disrupt the learning environment at school. 

"If you're a student that walks into class and you decide you're gonna act whatever way you wanna act and call the teacher whatever you wanna call them and disrupt every lesson because you don't think you need to listen to that teacher, you're affecting the learning environment for every other student in that classroom. It is a selfish decision all the way around."

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In a follow-up video, Teresa explained that she's heard many parents tell their children that they don't have to be nice to people until they're nice to them first. She acknowledged that people who believe they deserve respect innately are the only ones who think other people should unconditionally show them respect and kindness.

"You just treat people with kindness, everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and respect. Even when somebody is making you sad or mad, there are ways to react to that that are still out of kindness and love," Teresa said. 

   

   

She insisted that children shouldn't be taught that everyone just owes them kindness, and teachers don't just wake up every day and think they can't wait to be mean to their students. Yet, that's what she believes parents are teaching their kids. 

"Why is it that we are not teaching our kids to be kind and respectful to people out of the gate and then when something feels wrong or off then we should also be teaching them how to react to that situation without throwing things or breaking things or calling people names?"

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Teachers already have to deal with so much from not only their students, but parents, school administrators, and the district. They're expected to give their jobs 110%, in and outside of the classroom.

They work during breaks and in the summers, they spend money out of their own pockets to make sure their students are getting the best of the best. So to deal with this kind of behavior and lessons that their students are being taught before they walk through school doors every day can be hard.

As Teresa pointed out, this type of lesson from parents goes beyond the classroom. 

Children who are not taught to respect others unconditionally will struggle with the concept of other people's feelings and may prioritize their own needs and desires over the collective well-being of others.

It's about empathy and realizing that there is nothing wrong with giving people the baseline of at least kindness, because it's true that respect is earned, but you shouldn't show someone disrespect right off the bat, especially if they haven't done anything disrespectful to you.

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.