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Bruno: You Should Probably Become A Teacher If That's What You Want To Do

76738710_0b864eeca3_nOver the last couple of years there have been a number teachers quitting their jobs in high-profile protest over aspects of education reform that they do not like. This has led to some debate, particularly among critics of reform, about whether now is a good time to go into teaching.

Most recently, Stephanie Rivera argued that quitting in protest - and discouraging others from entering the profession - amounts to giving up the fight against reform. This, in turn, prompted fellow reform critic Gary Rubinstein to respond that he doesn't think most prospective teachers "can endure" the current era of reform and that it's probably better to give up the fight in the short term because "education needs to hit rock bottom" anyway.

 Implicit in this discussion are at least two peculiar assumptions: that recent changes in our educational institutions will substantially diminish new teachers' job satisfaction and that new teachers enter the profession to fight a battle for large-scale institutional change.

Those assumptions may very well hold for Rivera, Rubinstein, and many of their readers, but it's not clear how well - if at all - they hold up for prospective teachers as a whole.

Certainly, the last decade of education reform has substantially changed the work of many teachers, especially elementary, math, and English teachers in low-scoring schools. Many other teachers, however, have experienced education reform much less directly or intensely, and in any case many teachers are probably not as sensitive to those changes as Stephanie or Gary.

People also go into teaching much as they go into other professions: for a wide variety of often-complicated reasons. Some new teachers are looking to change or "defend" education, but others enjoy talking about their subject matter, like working with kids, or appreciate the vacation time.

This means that the answer to the question, "Should you go into teaching?" is: it depends.

If, for example, you really hate the idea of giving kids multiple-choice tests or are really excited about teaching science or history to very young students, you're probably not going to find many satisfying teaching opportunities today.

On the other hand, if you have a pretty good idea of what the job entails and it appeals to you, it may very well make sense to go into teaching. Of course, you may be disappointed and eventually decide the work isn't for you, but that will always be the case for any potential occupation.

Ultimately, then, whether other people think you should become a teacher is mostly irrelevant, especially when their reasons are heavily rooted in their personal ideologies or professional preferences. Teaching has a lot to recommend it and if it's something you want to do with your life you should probably go for it. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)


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