Teaching? – no way, say school leavers.

School holidays have begun and teachers are having a well deserved break (to work on their programming). However, all is not well in the teaching profession.

In NSW, teachers held stop work meetings last week to discuss Principals choosing staff rather than the current method of staff placement that uses seniority. They plan to strike when school resumes. Victorian teachers will take industrial action for higher wages. They argue that they are paid $10,000 less than colleagues in NSW. On top of all this, education ministers will consider a national strategy to raise the status of teaching, to boost morale within the profession and make it more attractive as a career choice for school leavers. In fact, Professor Geoff Masters, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Council for Education Research has even posited attracting high performers into teaching by making entry highly selective, to drive up the status of the profession. Forty percent of teachers in the profession today are set to retire within the next five years.

Is it the entry scores or something as simple as pay scales and basic working conditions that are turning students off teaching as a career? When the proposition of differentiated pay for “better” teachers was put up, the question that arose was, would the collegiality of the profession suffer and would this lead to a differentiated experience of education for students in poor areas?

The image of teaching as a profession has plummeted over the last decades as teachers have had to broaden their duties away from the ‘three R’s’. They have become, of necessity, behavioural managers and the moral compasses for their students, working within an increasingly cluttered curriculum that takes more and more of their available time away from the continuity required to meet the literacy needs of their students. While the complexity and the responsibility has risen, the remuneration has fallen below that of other professions.

In fact, teaching offers little scope for professional advancement to salaries commensurate with other professionals. Couple this with the high costs associated with tertiary education and exploding housing costs, and the increasing litigious attitude of parents, is it any wonder that bright school leavers choose more profitable careers.

Teachers are getting burnt out, worn down, and generally overwhelmed by the constantly increasing weight of expectations from governments, parents and society. Simplistic solutions will not change the basic lack of respect that society gives teachers. If we truly valued education and the high levels of responsibility that these caring professionals carry on behalf of society as a whole, then remuneration and working conditions need to improve.

Entry scores you say, boost morale? Hello! don’t they see the elephant in the classroom?


~ by abstraktbiblos on Wednesday, 16 April, 2008.

One Response to “Teaching? – no way, say school leavers.”

  1. With so many demands put on teachers now a days its no wonder teachers are quitting before their 2nd year of teaching. The curriculum is being based once again on all that needs to be covered before taking the standarized tests. Therefore teachers can not concentrate on other important topics such as diversity in the classroom / society, obesity in young children, drop out rate in schools, teen pregnancy etc.. We as educators need to find the hidden curriculum and as hard as it sounds imply it into our curriculum.

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