Musings on education
Something new each week starting soon
I respect maids, aka housekeepers. They are outwardly patient even when they may be overworked under the weight of an oppressive hand. They may want to quit but actually may like the children in their bosses' family. So they don't quit.
I respect teachers They are outwardly patient while they may be overworked under the weight of an oppressive hand. They may want to quit but actually like the children in their schools. But they don't quit.
The similarity ends there. Teachers are professionals but are often not treated as such.
The reality is that many teachers in the US and other countries want to quit, partly from lack of respect. Many teachers leave the profession early on and the nagging feeling doesn't go away for many throughout their career. The reasons?
Of those who stay on, according to a poll conducted by the NEA, 45% of them have considered quitting because of the recent love affair with high-stakes standardised testing imposed from above. Is this also a form of lack of respect for teachers as professionals?
How to change these dire straits that exist in so many countries?
A good start is to look at a country where students are succeeding, stress is minimal and teachers' lives seem more balanced: Finland.
Finland, touted as having consistently high ratings as an educational system, largely due to:
The process of becoming a teacher lasts about six years, people stay in the profession for 40 years, and the average experience of a teacher is about 16 years (Source: Finnish Lessons 2.0).
Finns think of teaching as a high-status profession in the same way as law or medicine.
Students strive to become teachers. Finnish society is not a place where, in the words of Woody Allen "those who can't do, teach, and those who can't teach, teach PE". Teachers in Finland are professionals and are treated as such.
Now, time to reflect on other countries. The US is but one example. Among 34 developed countries (OECD Countries), the US scores 17th in reading, 20th in science and 27th in mathematics. Can this be related to the results of a new study that shows that 17% of teachers leave the profession within 5 years.
So is it time to treat teachers and teacher trainees as the professionals they are and aspire to be? Some quick changes are due:
In the end, teaching is a partnership. Teacher, school, family and society all benefit from a healthy learning environment led by the teacher.
A good teacher is like a good doctor. You should trust your doctor's judgment. You should trust your teacher's judgment.
Both are professionals and have much more education and training than a maid.