Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Target Targets Teachers

I may be getting a bit sensitive here, but these commercials anger me.

First, Target treats us to a second grade teacher who apparently is only slightly less mature than her charges.  Maybe the produces thought that they were dispelling the stereotype of the overachieving Asian.

Of course, all music teachers are frustrated lounge singers or out-of-place hipsters.

And every coach is old, gruff, technologically illiterate; they also hide a secret past as a United States Marine drill instructor.

Like all stereotypes, the ones that Target is perpetuating have some basis in reality.  These commercials, however, exacerbate a problem that this Ariel Sacks post points out:
. . . while teaching is very difficult, it can look easy to the public. Some . . . reasons are that it is seen as "an extension of child-rearing" which doesn't require professional training. Also, everyone has been through school, so thinks they know about teaching.  The knowledge and skills K-12 teachers teach are skills all competent adults have, so "the impression of ordinariness is hard for teaching to shake...As a group teachers are too visible to be inscrutable and too numerous to be elite...They don;t have the distance, obscurity, and selectivity of the high-status professional...Everyone is an expert on education, except the educator."
The teachers I know are not perfect.  We try hard to do the best we can to use our gifts and limit our foibles.  We don't need a major corporation perpetuating myths and attitudes that make the job more difficult.  Target can successfully sell school supplies without perpetuating stereotypes and education myths.

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