By Nick McDaniels – My last few posts have not been as positive as they could have been – reflections, to be sure, of the American educational climate. However, Spring Break is upon me, and I am better now. Because after five straight days of sleeping in until 7:00am and getting dressed at…whenever I feel like it, I do love my job.
But it’s not the breaks that make it so great to be a teacher (though sometimes it is). It’s these three things (among others):
- Despite that people bemoan the fact that “teachers aren’t respected,” we, in fact, are respected. Granted, we are not doctors, nor lawyers. We are not paid like them. Nor did we have to go to school for as long as they did. Nor likely, do we carry as much student loan debt. Nor do we have to carry malpractice insurance. And though we occasionally have to tolerate the always funny “those who can’t do…” joke, that is a lot better than what most people say about their doctor or lawyer. I will tell you, when people find out I am a teacher, they respect what I do. If being in a respected profession matters to you, despite what you hear some teachers say, teaching is a respected profession.
- The future is in your hands. There are very few jobs where your work can have an impact for generations. In fact, teachers are probably right up there with good financial planners and the guy who draws the lottery numbers on the evening news in terms of their ability to create watershed moments for families that will impact a generation. If a single teacher can change a child’s life (read almost any “successful” person’s autobiography), then a single teacher has the capacity to impact a family for generations. That’s a lot of responsibility. What a reward, though!
- You have job security. Machines have replaced most of us in what we used to do (…he types as a load of laundry spins in his washing machine). 13 men with a bunch of machines can now mine more coal than 130 men with shovels and picks used to. GM’s robots churn out car after car after car faster than a team of autoworkers could. And while, I, as a good union man, will never endorse machination or outsourcing, I understand that “efficiency” is a primary driver of our capitalist economy. Well, teaching is not — and never will be — a for-profit enterprise on a large scale (sorry to the venture capitalists who are treating it as such, as you will always be the exception to the rule). Despite Bill Gates’s best efforts, the human teacher will never go away. It is, fundamentally, how we are designed as a species, for the younger generation to be taught (to fill in bubbles with a number two pencil?) by the ones who have been alive longer. If you teach, take heart in the fact that your job can never be outsourced to a machine or to a drastically underpaid telephone operator around the world.
I still love what I do for a living. And if you are a teacher, you should too. And if you are not a teacher, maybe you should be. It’s not all (root) beer and skittles, but darnnit, I’m pretty happy.