I have something I need to get off my chest. I don’t have a One Thousand Gifts style list to go with this, since I just blogged earlier this afternoon.
Exaggerating is lying. I’m pretty guilty of this myself, but I’m finding I’m pretty convicted of that because of how angry it’s making me with everything that’s going on between the unions and the province and everyone in between.
Liberally biased news sources are painting teachers as lazy and greedy, telling readers we’ve had 34% wage increases over the past 8 years. I’ve been in this for 5 years. I haven’t seen much of that… not to say that I haven’t had raises, I have, every year but this one… but I’ve certainly not increased that drastically. I’ve heard many skewed statistics. They make all teachers look bad. They make it look like we deserve what’s happened. They make it look like it’s perfectly justifiable to make cuts and freeze wages. But the ones that are biased toward the Provincial Government’s cause sure make a sincere effort not to comment on the Labour Laws and the Charter Rights that are on the chopping block, which is what anyone that I talk with is concerned about.
The Queen’s Park Rally For Education had anywhere from 4,000-20,000 people at it, depending on the news source you read. That’s a significant gap in attendance. Pro-Provincial Government sources would have readers/listeners/watchers believe that there were fewer in attendance than when teachers gathered similarly to protest Mike Harris, suggesting that maybe we don’t care as much now? ETFO and OSSTF would have you believe that there were 15-20,000 in attendance. Which one is true? Were there actually 10,000 and no one wants to tell the truth?
A blog I read this afternoon says that elementary classes have a minimum of 30 students in them, and the author goes on to do math from there that is supposed to defend our case. And in part, it helps. I stand behind the sentiment. But I haven’t had a class over 30 since 2010, and that was only one class, 40 minutes per day. And the only reason it was over 30 was because they had more French classes than a full time French teacher, so they took the 4s from the 3/4 and added them to the 4/5 for French, pushing the 4/5 to 34 students. Primary classes are still capped last time I checked, which means that this can’t possibly be a sound statistic, unless he was referring to high school class sizes, but he’d just finished talking about elementary school responsibilities. My experience spans 4 schools in 5 years, in 2 different school boards, so again, unless this is board specific and I’m not aware, it sounds like he’s trying to paint a picture of elementary school class sizes in Ontario generally sitting at 30 and above, which is not true.
I’ve read that we have a 12-year salary grid. Unless it’s different for each board, which I sincerely doubt, we have an 11-year salary grid. I’ve read that we have 250 minutes per week of Prep time. I have 240. Again, this may be board specific, but if that’s the case, it needs to be clear, because otherwise it sure looks like authors are embellishing statistics to make their argument stronger. We don’t need a stronger argument. The truth is all the strength we need.
I don’t need to continue and rant on and on and on about all the discrepancies. Most of them are minor, but when they all add up, we paint ourselves in a pretty poor light. Anyone does. Is there no one out there who will report the truth? The facts? Without twisting them to generate more support for their side of the cause?
All this to say, I feel convicted about my tendency to exaggerate. I feel there’s a stark difference between hyperbole and exaggeration though. I sincerely feel that there’s a difference between “I have, like, 400,000 things to do tonight,” and “It took me like 4 hours! (when in reality it took 2.5).” I don’t feel guilty about or convicted of hyperbole. It’s pretty clear that it’s a literary device used for dramatic effect. But I know in my own personal experience, I tend to use exaggeration to make my plight sound worse and try to garner pity or extra help or more support, or whatever the case may be… it’s almost always selfish and for my own gain, or in an effort to avoid things I don’t want to or don’t feel I should have to do. And I need to stop.
So if that’s the one good thing that’s come out of all of this political back and forth, so be it. May I not lose hold of that conviction, may I be reminded on a regular basis that exaggeration only makes me look an idiot when it becomes clear what I did, because there are many journalists and bloggers out there that I’m pretty disappointed in right now for all of their exaggerations. When we twist things to make our situation sound just a little bit more dire, or just a little bit better, we are sinning. It’s a lie.
I don’t want to do it anymore.