The profession of Teaching - A mini-rant

I was reading a very interesting article in time magazine today on middle school and it's effect on kids. I don't know about you, but in our school system middle schools seems to attract the dregs - the teachers who don't want to be teaching or just aren't qualified for the job. (notice I didn't say all...)

Then there was an interesting online debate over whether teachers get paid enough and I think I found the answer to the question. The problem isn't that teachers don't get paid a competitive salary, it's that all teachers are paid the same. If I'm a doctor or a lawyer or a computer technician or a almost every other work position you're paid according to your performance, so if you put in more effort you get more reward. In teaching, the best you can do is maybe move into management/administration (which is not MY idea of advancement, thanks).

I think in a way the two arguing over teachers being paid enough are both missing the point. If you are an excellent engineer, you will be paid accordingly, if you are an excellent teacher, your pay is the same as everyone else's. If you spend hours after school coming up with new and great ways of getting the students involved, you may get intagible rewards, yes, but your family won't be too happy with you. And the shmuck who's teaching down the hall who does only the bare minimum gets the same wage. Regular reviews and performance based raises are the way to go. Teaching is like a dead end job - you work for fifty years and still get paid the same thing for the same job as the new kid out of college. Why would an intelligent, talented individual want to devote their work life for that? Hence the loud cries that the new teachers entering the workforce are sadly lacking in talent.

And despite the fact I'll probably get flamed up the wazoo for this, I've seen it. I've witnessed a young, talented individual who simply stopped teaching and moved into the work force with the same skills because they felt both unappreciated and unrewarded. It's nice to think that the teaching the kids is it's own reward, but there simply aren't enough people who enjoy kids that much. And enjoying kids doesn't necessarily make you a good teacher. And if you need monetary reward for a job well done why shouldn't teachers get it too?

Well, I could go on but it's late...something to think about



There are other professions that pay based only on seniority and not performance -- manufacturing for example. And I don't think it's a coincidence that both manfacturing and public school teaching are dominated by powerful labor unions. Unions serve a vital role when employees are under-appreciated, but I don't think that's the case right now with teachers.


2005-08-03 5:20 am

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