During the spring of 1990 I was arguing with some friends about the problems in education. We talked about kids falling behind, teachers not doing their jobs and families struggling to get ahead. It was a great conversation by a group of people who had no idea what they were talking about. After a long pause someone said, “There’s nothing we can do about it.” and then someone else added, “Unless you become a teacher there’s no way to solve the problem.”
Everyone kept talking but I stopped listening. I couldn’t stop thinking about the solution to the problem; Become a Teacher.
“Okay,” I finally asked, “who wants to come with me and become a teacher?
No one joined me but they all supported me in my goal to become an educator. Thus began my quest to save the world, one child at a time and although it’s been over 25 years I still believe that the best way to make a difference is to become a teacher.
Helping students understand English, Math, Science and Social Studies is only part of what a teacher does. Educators also work with student’s social and emotional well being to help them become better people, but this is the part of being a teacher that most adults don’t know or care about.
To truly understand education and the teaching profession you need to enter the field. Saying you know education because you were once a student or because you have kids in school just isn’t enough. At parties and get-togethers I find that almost everyone has a story to explain why education is such a failure.
“I had a teacher once who did this,” or “I had a teacher once who didn’t do this.” They can all tell me about the teacher who failed them.
“Teachers today are terrible! They don’t care about the kids at all.” Then they say, “Not you though. You’re one of the good ones.” They’ve never seen me teach, never seen me in a classroom, yet I’m, “one of the good ones.”
In fact most people have never seen anyone teach and they are making huge assumptions about them. As I talk to them about their perceived view of the problem I offer my solution.
“Join me.” I say with enthusiasm, “Become a teacher and stop bitching about the problems with education.”
Then the conversation usually changes. “I don’t want to be a teacher.” they say, “Do you know all the stuff they have to put up with?” I smile and nod my head.
“Yeah,” I say, “but you also get to help solve the problem.”
We, the teachers of the world, are the reason people excel as doctors, lawyers, accountants, athletes, artists, and every other profession. Without us who would teach them their trade and skills and help them become better as professionals? Students may naturally excel at one skill or another but they need someone (a teacher) to help them tap into the skills they need to develop.