Freitag, 25. Oktober 2013

Motivation to become a teacher - one for the money, two for the show?

Now that I’m in my final year of teacher training and I'm so close to the finish line, a questions keeps popping up, on why all the new students decide to take on teacher training. To be fair, sometimes I ask myself the same thing about people already attending teacher training. When you start at my university, there are admission interviews, where you are asked a couple of things, while they try to find out what your background is and why you want to attend teacher training. Of course interviews like these are easy to manipulate. I’m not talking about manipulating the interviewer, I’m talking about manipulating yourself and making yourself believe intentions that might not be ones really pushing you (or might not be reasons you could publicly state without drawing ire of the your counterpart). So I’d like to think more about the situation or idea that started the process. 

Probably one of the two most common reasons I’ve heard, is that back in the day, the person got to spend time with smaller siblings, or younger relatives or the young family members of friends. The fact that this was a lot of fun, leads many people down the path to becoming a teacher. There is nothing wrong with that, but sometimes I think people don’t realize the difference between spending time (i.e. playing) with siblings or children they know, and working with kids and youngsters in a school environment. Obviously this person could have discovered their talent while spending time with those kids and now wants to build up on that. I’m not sure there is a distinction, or I don’t know if anyone could tell that apart, but the basis remains the same - these people have experienced interacting with children as being something that means a lot to them and as something they want to do more.

The second reason, which I never really understood, is that many people want to do better than one of their own teachers they had in school. I know I had a couple of really bad teachers, e.g. disrespecting their students and just treating them like nobodies. Maybe my coping-mechanism is different, but as soon as I left school, I just completely eradicated those people from my memory. I couldn’t draw any motivation from those situations, because I know better. This post is actually connectable to those cases. Judging from the experiences students, including myself, had in their schools, those teachers maybe had not so noble reasons to become a teacher. Again I’m not talking about the obvious one that they manage to tell themselves, I’m talking about the real reasons deep down. Anyway, many students get their motivation because they think they can do better, and want to do better then their own teachers. It is a valid reasoning, but if they don’t have any talents or the proper social skills and work ethic, then it’s a nice wish, but probably not smart. As a sidebar, where I’d add the same argument, is people wanting to become a teacher because they had such great teachers and enjoyed school so much. Again, nice idea, but not smart.

The third reason has more to do with our economy then anything else. The last couple of years, and probably for a few more, there is a pretty big teacher shortage in my city. Even if you are not from the city it is something that is intriguing. Although everybody knows that the pay is not worth the stress you might face, but in this case, you are basically guaranteed a job, a job which you probably won’t lose that easily, and your pay will be pretty decent in a couple of decades. Now if I read that last sentence to a stranger trying to convince him to start education, I think more times than not, they would gladly accept. 

I can’t blame anyone for any of those reasons, all of them are valid and understandable, but sometimes I can’t help but think about the kids those people are going to work with. Of course in an ideal world, if you show up and are willing to work, the proper teacher education program will form you into an acceptable teacher. Not only that, but I think that it can change people and spark something inside them and change their true motivation deep down, because either way, apparently education means something to them.

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