Sunday, June 21, 2009

Where are the teachers?

I was looking through my daughter's yearbook and I noticed something interesting. The yearbook contained the pictures of all the students in the school along with their name and what they want to be, when they grow up.

I saw a lot of doctors, dentists, rocket scientists, astronauts, firemen, ballerinas, princesses, singers, actors, musicians, etc. What surprised me was that not one student wanted to be a teacher! That struck me as odd, since most kids love their teachers (at least, in their elementary years).

What this means is that there is not a lot of publicity about teachers, and being a teacher. Kids pick up a lot of what they want at home, and in a lot of cases there is parental influence on their decision. Most parents would not want their kid to be a teacher, since teaching is not a coveted position (especially in the United States). Graduate level teaching is another matter. At that point, children would know a lot about the world, and teaching staff in higher education do get paid well and are known and respected a lot more.

There are several reasons why the education system in the US is failing, and this is one of them:
Lack of good teachers.

Why do we lack good teachers? Because, a majority of students do not want to be teachers. School teacher is not a glamorous job. Most parents dread when their kid comes home and says that she wants to be a teacher.

Teaching, as a profession, is not respected, whereas, great teachers are always remembered and respected. If the profession is not respected and sought after, it is hard to attract talented people into it. I am not going to go into the reasons why the system is broken. There has been a lot of debate about this and many smart people have come up with great suggestions.

It is going to take a lot to fix the system and start attracting talented people into this profession and make teaching a coveted position it once was.