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Sunday, 8 June 2014

Is Teaching a Noble Profession?




Teachers are an extremely important part of any society for a variety of reasons. One of the most important aspects of any society is the youngest generation, they represent the future and the direction that society will take. Teachers can enrich a young generation of children so that the future is a safe, secure and great place to live in for every person in the society. Moving forward in the education of the future we will increasingly need teachers who aim to develop learners instead of teaching them, who help their pupils to become independent (learning to learn), who provide students with motivation and interest for life-long learning and urge them to become autonomous learners. But that is my opinion. So here are some quotes on the importance of the role of the teacher:

To me the sole hope of human salvation lies in teaching.
George Bernard Shaw


The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught, as that every child should be given the wish to learn. JOHN LUBBOCK

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.
Henry Adams
 "Teachers are more than any other class the guardians of civilization." Bertrand Russell
  
Those who educate the children are more to be honored than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living well. Aristotle


Even our own current government have given some great quotes based upon the importance of the teacher. 


'The most successful countries, from the Far East to Scandinavia, are those where teaching has the highest status as a profession. David Cameron in the foreword of The Importance of Teaching White Paper 2010


'This White Paper outlines the steps necessary to enact such whole-system reform in England. It encompasses both profound structural change and rigorous attention to standards. It includes a plan for attracting and training even better teachers. It outlines a direction of travel on the curriculum and qualifications which allows us to learn from, and outpace, the world’s best. At the heart of our plan is a vision of the teacher as our society’s most valuable asset. We know that nothing matters more in improving education than giving every child access to the best possible teaching. There is no calling more noble, no profession more vital and no service more important than teaching. It is because we believe in the importance of teaching – as the means by which we liberate every child to become the adult they aspire to be – that this White Paper has been written. The importance of teaching cannot be over-stated. And that is why there is a fierce urgency to our plans for reform.' Michael Gove says of the 2010 White Paper

So if teaching is indeed such an important and some say noble profession why are so many experienced teacher leaving and why are less graduates and undergraduates applying to teaching? 

'While demand for teachers is growing, recruitment to initial teacher training (ITT) has fallen. Preliminary data suggests a reduction in the number of new entrants for teacher training this year (2013–14).' Parliamentary Briefing November 2013

Just like the question of teaching as a noble profession, the answer is multi faceted: teachers pay freeze, higher pension contributions, increasing workload,  ...... the list goes on. Another often not as widely talked about reason is the disintegration of the very notion that teaching is indeed a noble profession. In short Society has lost all regard for teachers. 

Teachers have become easy scapegoats for all of societies ills and I am sure there is not a teacher reading this blog, that has not encountered lack of respect for their role this academic year in one form or another from the government, parents, the press, social media and in some cases their own school ....... and then as a result of all of this negativity the pupils. The results are stress, anxiety, anger and for growing numbers of teachers the desire to leave teaching altogether.

If we do not value our teachers as parents, governments and indeed society then how can we expect our young people to? Of course teachers need to have and abide by standards, to be highly skilled and committed. In my experience the vast majority of teachers are totally self regulating, driving their own CPD, spending hours and hours out of the classroom preparing lessons and marking books. But where that is not the case we do need systems in place. However, we also need systems in place to support teachers, recognise and respect their professionalism and protect them from this growing tide of accountability to every member of society. 

Teachers have a great responsibility but we must recognise that they also have rights. The right to be treated with respect, to be safe in their work place and to be treated as professionals.