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In Defense of Teaching

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Nancy Flanagan offers a trenchant response to a U.S. News & World Report piece calling teaching one of the most "overrated" careers in America. She writes:

To understand why teaching is satisfying and gratifying, you must approach it as a believer in the complex, redemptive and transformative power of education.

The person who wrote the U.S. News item—which, as Flanagan suggests, comes across as almost offensively shallow—clearly does not.

7 Comments

Well, yeah. The US News piece was pretty pointless (this is news?). But then, on the other hand, their description matches pretty closely with what a lot of teachers are saying (too many different learning levels in one classroom, gotta spend summers doing job-related work, pay's not that good, and you gotta dance to the tune of somebody higher up).

I did like Flanagan's piece--but I do think we've got a ways to go in upgrading perceptions--and it has to start with the teachers themselves.

Couldn't agree more that a new description of teaching has to begin with teachers themselves. And the US News piece did pretty much the same number on other "overrated" careers, repeating hackneyed ideas about being a doctor, lawyer or architect. All careers offer challenges as well as rewards, but there wasn't a lot of substance (or veracity) in the article.

I thought the section on teaching was particularly egregious, however.

Enough said for the US News piece. I am preparing as we speak to enter teaching after being in the corporate world for twenty years. Most of the information that I find on teaching focuses on the difficulties. I personally cannot wait to begin and am glad to be reminded by Ms Flanagan that great educators approach teaching with the glass half full.

Great thought, Chris. Having retired, after 30 years as a high school social science teacher, I can truthfully say that the "negative" always seems to get front page. Criticism always seems to be on the lips of outsiders. Yes, there are issues in teaching just as in any other career. It's not an easy job. But if you find that you have fallen in love with teaching, as I did decades ago, don't let the whiners, criers, complainers, rude parents and inept administrators disrupt that passion.
When the bell rings and the door closes, give your students 100% and let the dice fall as they may. Good luck to you. You are embarking upon the most important job in the country.

Of course, what he did not mention with his repeated focus of "summers off" is the hours spent working nights and weekends. I generally work from 7:00pm to 11:00 each night and part of Saturday and more that half of Sunday. The "summers off" is generally a little more that a month. It is an extremely hard job. It is also a "job" that many in other professions would not last a month in.

Of course, what he did not mention with his repeated focus of "summers off" is the hours spent working nights and weekends. I generally work from 7:00pm to 11:00 each night and part of Saturday and more that half of Sunday. The "summers off" is generally a little more that a month. It is an extremely hard job. It is also a "job" that many in other professions would not last a month in.

Let me first say that I love teaching and I love teaching great kids. I HATE teaching kids that other saintly teachers have learned to view with sympathy. Kids who are constant disruptions and kids who need so much of your attention because they are lacking in attention in their life. I want to teach kids who love to learn. That is 75%. But the other 25% make teaching a headache. I don't mind the low kids, it is the disrespectful ones. Couple that with the EXTREMELY long hours that I didn't mind when I was single with no kids. Now the only reason I stay is for summers off. I could make a lot more money in the private sector, but 2 weeks a year off with my kids isn't enough.

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  • Marie: Let me first say that I love teaching and I read more
  • Caroline: Of course, what he did not mention with his repeated read more
  • Caroline: Of course, what he did not mention with his repeated read more
  • Vince: Great thought, Chris. Having retired, after 30 years as a read more
  • Chris Van Meter: Enough said for the US News piece. I am preparing read more

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