Updated: Jan 13
Mark Twain, the literary giant who wrote novels such as Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, among other great works, was once considered perhaps the most well-known figure in the world in the late 1800s. The press would run to Twain for a quote about worldly topics before even approaching global leaders and he was never one to let them down. He definitely had some great ones about education and teaching. Many were humorous, but they always got their point across. Twain once said:
“It is noble to teach oneself; it is still nobler to teach others.”
This is not a mindset that was just held by Twain either. If you ask anyone, they will state that teaching is one of the noblest professions. If so many people feel this way, then why is there such a shortage of teachers around the globe?
Is Teaching a Dying Profession?
It is estimated that the world will need 69 million new teachers by the year 2030. The problem is that there are not many young people beating down the doors to become teachers. More and more adults are asking these young people to reconsider even entering the teaching profession.
In fact, nearly half of all teachers leave the profession for good during their first five years on the job. And this is not something they were looking to do when they spent a small fortune attaining their teaching degree just years earlier. Recently, in England, it was determined that about one in six teachers leave the field after their very first year. Obviously, with numbers like these, the teaching profession seems to need a complete makeover otherwise there will be very few educators, let alone qualified educators, left to impart their wisdom to the youth of today.
There are a few main reasons why people are no longer taking Education courses like they once were several decades ago.
The Salary Is Not Ideal
The saying goes that you don’t get into teaching to become rich. This is true. But that is oversimplifying it.
In Australia, the pay starts off rather well for new educators compared to most other countries but then tapers off pretty quickly. In Australia pay starts out between $65,000 and $70,000 but tapers off pretty quickly. Plus, secondary educators seem to make quite a bit more than primary educators.
However sometimes looking at the broader benefits may help entice more teachers. Teaching provides a stable job opportunity in a time of rising casualisation in the workplace with strong long-term demand, clear hours and lots of guaranteed leave. Teaching also provides the opportunity to live in regional areas where the same money can go a lot further. So perhaps framing choosing teaching as a foundation for the type of lifestyle you want to live will bring more students to choosing teaching.
The Price of Study
Once again, this falls under the money aspect. The cost of university can be daunting and the idea of having thousands in government debt can be scary. However new government legislation has meant that the price of a teaching degree has decreased by 46% costing only $3,600 a year. This was intended to bring more students to in demand fields, and I don’t know about you but I’d take a half price degree with clear job opportunities!
Lack of Support and Respect
At one time, teachers were thought of as some of the most respected people in the community. Students and parents alike would regard them highly and greet them with honor and admiration. Unfortunately, the times have changed.
Teachers are often thought of as babysitters nowadays and if the students do not get the grades they want, the parents move in and belittle the educators in an effort to force them to give their kids good grades. The amount of grief teachers receive nowadays is quite astounding.
To make matters worse, the administration in schools frequently do not support the teachers when this type of conflict arises. Why should people want to go into teaching if there is low pay and a lack of respect across the board? It is tough to sell people on a profession that is no longer held in high esteem where it seems the media and the public is more likely to condemn a teacher rather than assist them in educating the youth of today.
Is there a solution to this lack of respect? Not an easy one. But if we all as individual strive to treat the teachers we encounter with the respect they deserve, perhaps we can help bring about change.
Focus on Standardised Testing
The emphasis on standardised testing is at an all time high around the globe. If the students are not receiving high scores on these exams, the teachers can be disciplined because of it. While there is a need for proper teacher evaluations to ensure students are receiving a quality education, factoring in standardized testing to such a large degree is maybe not the best path to take.
Rather than focus so greatly on test scores, more administrators need to enter the classroom and witness firsthand how educators are performing. Sometimes teachers work minor miracles and can take students that did not have a future and change their entire life around.
Safety and Location Is a Factor
Schools used to be considered a safe place where seldom there was violence or threats. Nowadays, depending upon where a person teaches, it can be like a war zone.
Plus, sometimes the location is a factor just like in many professions. You have to go where the job is in demand. For instance, in Melbourne, Australia, the government is offering an additional $50,000 to those teachers who are willing to relocate to more rural areas that are struggling to find qualified teachers. This huge bump in pay can be quite enticing and the lower cost of living in these areas can make that extra money go further than anyone in the city could imagine.
The Final Solution
There are no easy answers to the teaching shortage around the globe. However, if more time is spent trying to determine solutions that can be put into effect in the near future, the world of education can change for the better sooner rather than later.