Comedian Reminds Us All How Difficult and Important Teaching Truly Is

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As teachers, our jobs can make us laugh and cry, but apparently, so can comedians when they address our profession. In a recent segment on his show The Russell Howard Hour, comedian Russell Howard does a deep dive into what it’s like being a teacher in the UK. And everywhere else for that matter.

Earlier this year, Howard had the chance to work with children and, like many of us, enjoyed the opportunity to engage with young minds. But when he thought about how great it may be to become a teacher, he realized just how difficult the job is.

Russell Howard "Oh my god! It's one of the hardest jobs in this country!"

Stress and Mental Health Issues

Russell Howard reveals to his viewers that stress is a serious issue for teachers, driving many out of the field. Some of the numbers he shares are shocking: one in five teachers in London reported suffering from panic attacks, 54% experienced sleep problems including insomnia, and 17% had been diagnosed with depression.

And it’s not just a problem for UK teachers – 30 to 40% of teachers in the US leave due to burnout within the first five years on the job, reports NPR.

Budget Cuts

Howard goes on to point out that austerity politics in Britain is forcing teachers to buy supplies and meals for students and calls them “heroes” for doing so. Again, this is an issue on both sides of the Atlantic, with American teachers spending an average of $448 per year on supplies for their classrooms.

  “What are they doing in the face of these cuts? Behaving like … heroes!

Undue Criticism From Students, Parents, and the Media

The comedian also addresses harsh treatment by students and parents. The website is popular with students and features no system for holding commenters accountable for criticism.

Russell Howard "They shouldn't have ratemyteacher, they should have ratemyparents!"

Parents also login to the site to slam teachers they don’t like or agree with, and because people are more likely to make the effort to leave negative reviews than positive ones, genuinely strong teachers are portrayed as villains.

It essentially put teachers on the same level as restaurants on Yelp and allows students to say whatever they want about their teachers, with no recourse for the instructor.

The media is mentioned as well, with one headline claiming it is child abuse if teachers do not touch students. Talk about a catch-22.

Teachers Are Heroic

Howard finishes his segment with a story about a speech therapy teacher helping and inspiring a student with a severe stutter. The teacher is able to motivate the student and show his pupil that success is possible. Later on, the student gives a full speech in front of his classmates in an auditorium.

We promise you will shed a tear along with the student’s teachers and classmates.

Check out the full video below:

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