"the great majority [of teachers] to be extremely hard working" and
"The ones most critical of their colleagues, often from the get-go, are often the very ones who seek to escape the classroom from very early on. Unfortunately, many of these end up as administrators or union hacks, or else find a comfortable niche from which they can continue to pour disdain on their own peers."
NY Times OPINION | April 19, 2009
Room for Debate: Teaching: No 'Fallback' Career
By The Editors
Teacher "shortages" may not mean that jobs exist.
As private sector professionals lose their jobs or suffer cutbacks in pay and benefits, more and more of them are thinking about second careers. Public service is suddenly popular with all generations. Teaching may not pay a lot, but it comes with relatively good benefits and, in public schools, job security in the form of tenure after three years. But this fallback fantasy may be unrealistic, despite reports of a possible teacher shortage in the next several years. Does such a shortfall really exist? What does it take to become a teacher, let alone a good one?
- Pam Grossman, professor of education
- Patrick Welsh, teacher
- Tom Moore, teacher
- Michael Podgursky, economist
- Kenneth J. Bernstein, teacher and blogger
Response from AJ:
You can see a majority consensus on some matters -- such as the experience (around 3 years) needed, by most, to achieve competence in teaching, & the extreme difficulties of the initial (& even subsequent) years. However, once again, even from teachers (such as Patrick Welsh) one finds a negative, condescending opinion towards their own colleagues. In my experience, although I have found teachers unduly submissive to authority (often misused & unwarranted authority), I have also found the great majority to be extremely hard working. Indeed, the nature of the profession makes this inevitable.
The ones most critical of their colleagues, often from the get-go, are often the very ones who seek to escape the classroom from very early on. Unfortunately, many of these end up as administrators or union hacks, or else find a comfortable niche from which they can continue to pour disdain on their own peers. But another remarkable fact is this view of teachers as being almost to the profession born -- they either have it or they don't. This is eerily similar to the view of students as either "being able to do math" or not -- or the view that kids will either "get it" right away or never. While familiarity with subject matter, as well as a modicum of compassion & patience, are clearly necessary, as also a belief in human potential, the role of experience & learning and the possibility of the basic tenets being teachable, appears to be lacking -- even among teachers. The fact that far too many teachers leave within the first few years, is mentioned -- but not highlighted. Doing so would have led to the question, "Why?" -- the very thing that no one publicly wants to face up to. It's not the money, although that used to play a part.