Does respect come from Union?

Whilst on Twitter this morning I read this:

In an open letter to education ministers around the world, the leaders say that a “declining respect for teachers” will “weaken teaching, damage the learning opportunities for millions and ultimately weaken societies around the world”. 

The full article is here:

http://schoolsimprovement.net/world-leaders-warn-of-damaging-effects-of-erosion-in-respect-for-teachers/

This got me thinking about what we actually mean when we talk about respect and what others use this phrase to mean. As it certainly has the capacity to be used as a mask for something altogether different.

Politicians are forever banging on about the other party failing to respect our profession – this is a noticeable theme quite close to an election – here’s Tristram for example:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-32181849

But often respect seems a way of sugaring the pill of a new initiative or at least a substantial change in an existing one – do this, the profession is told, and you will be respected. Feels rather like telling the pianist in the restaurant that if he/she plays “I did it my way” he/she will be respected as a musician- although the “way” they are doing “it” is clearly somebody else’s.

Perhaps the first step would be to have self respect and have a united voice and approach on things that matter to our profession. I was discussing this with a colleague on Twitter who was firmly of the opinion that there could never be one teaching Union as teachers were all too different. 

I don’t doubt that we are all very different- but so are doctors, the difference being that when doctors speak their Union is – well union and people listen. 

Perhaps this is the first step to the elusive grail of respect – after that we may be in stronger position to conduct     the music rather than simply and occasionally unwillingly dance along?

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