Tuesday, January 9, 2018

What are We Doing to the Future of Education?

What is the future of education?  No wait... Perhaps that is the wrong question.  To get closer to the heart of my initial question, maybe I should pose a different question. Where is the future of education? Now that not only asks the question but answers it as well.  The future of education is sitting in the seats our classrooms today, so how is the  future of education doing?  Does the future of education even want to accept the challenge of becoming the future of education?

I had the opportunity to hear the presentation about the future of the teaching profession in Texas from TEA Deputy Commissioner, Martin Winchester. In his presentation he shared a starling statistic.

Did you know that only five percent of high school seniors showed an interest in becoming a teacher?

Yes only 5%!!!

That means that 95 percent of our students are completely turned off to education as a viable career choice. I have to admit that I am one of those 95 percent. When I was in high school, I had no desire to become an educator. In fact I had a teacher that regularly told his class that the worst profession ever is the field of education, public education specifically.

Now think about this. 

What profession do students get exposed to more than any other profession? The answer is education. They see everyday the stress, hard work, and frustration that teachers deal with on a daily basis. They see the way the system works, and could it be that very reason that 95% of our students do not want to even consider a career in education?

There are many reasons that students don’t choose a career in education. The first reason is money, and that is something that our government and our country must address if we want the future of education to improve. Teachers deserve to make more money than they do.

Secondly, the teaching profession is belittled on a regular basis. Think about every movie about the education profession that you’ve ever seen. The setting is a disastrous school with horrible students, and only one teacher, the main character,  cared about education while the rest of the educators did not. Furthermore, the media perpetuates the false narrative that education is failing.  Nothing could be further from the truth, but the negative perception is the reality of education, and it influences our students every day not to choose the noblest profession as a career.

But I think the last reason (and more important reason) that students don’t choose education as a career, is that we, educators, fail to market the profession as a noble profession. Think about the way we speak about education.  Think about the interactions that we have with our peers about problems in education.

Our students are listening. Our students are watching. Our students are being influenced daily about the profession we have been called to.  Do our words, do our actions, and more importantly do our reactions influence our students to come to the profession or run from it as fast as they can?


The last point that I would like to make has to do with education leaders. What are we doing to our teachers that makes our students see teaching as an awesome profession. All of the work that we ask teachers to do, does it help them or does it overwhelm them? Are we asking teachers to do the right things, or the cliché things that ultimately don’t lead to positive results or more importantly excited and empowered teachers?

Our students are watching. Our students are listening. And our students are being influenced by the way we leaders value or devalue our teachers and support staff. 

The future of education is sitting in our desks today. Everything that we say, everything that we do, and more importantly everything we don’t do is helping or hurting the profession. We must challenge ourselves to get real about the profession that we profess is so important.  We should ask ourselves these questions. What are we doing that makes students run to the profession, and what will we stop doing that is making our students see education as a horrible profession. The answer to these questions are the clues that will lead us to the next step that we must take to convince and recruit the next generation of educators.

The future is now, but will we be present enough today to pay attention to that future?

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