Once the event got started, it a few speakers took the microphone to thank everyone for attending...and then a parade of affirmation for the educators in audience followed. Speaker after speaker took the mic to share their stories about how "teachers matter". Some administrators talked about teachers in their building, some parents shared about their children's experiences, some politicians talked about family members who used to be teachers, and even some teachers themselves shared about how they knew that teaching, as a profession, was important. As the buzzwords and rhetoric began to fill the room, I couldn't help but feel a little offended. After all, the more you feel compelled to say something...the less true it actually is.
Now just to be clear, I believe teachers matter, I'm not saying the statement itself is untrue. I don't, however, believe that statement ever needs to be uttered because, by nature, it's already self-evident. I don't walk around saying "Doctors Matter" or "Lawyers Matter" or "Farmers Matter" because it doesn't need to be said. It's like saying "Oxygen Matters" or "Water Matters". If something actually matters, no one should really need to affirm it. So last night, as I listened to speaker after speaker assure everyone in the audience that Teachers Matter...it became pretty clear that either the speakers don't believe it to be true...or they think most of the world disagrees as well. Either way, it's the definition of condescension. It's like when I post a picture on Facebook (a rare event for me for this very reason) and someone starts "wow, you all look great!" My first reaction is usually "...I didn't ask" followed by "your validation is irrelevant" and finally "you clearly missed the point of the picture".
Of course, this is just one example of the many phrases that get bounced around that, when stated, are completely untrue. Phrases like "I'm in charge!" or "we have to get together soon!" might sound great initially, but their very existence means the contrary is truth. If someone is really "in charge", everyone already knows it. If you "have to get together" with a friend...then you'd already be doing it. Like Mark Zuckerberg fictionally said in The Social Network: "If you guys had invented Facebook...you would have invented Facebook."