What has inspired me now, at this stage of life, to consider Education as a field of study? Better late than never? Truth be told, when first I forged my way in the world, I would say, “I’d rather go on 42nd Street than be a teacher.” Instead, I went to business school and worked as an Administrative Assistant in Manhattan, before I was married. It was a wonderful experience, and then I began raising a family.
“Clearly, people decide to become teachers for many reasons.” Hindsight is always 20/20. If only I had known then what I know now. Being very involved in my sons’ education, benefited me, as well as my children. I learned and grew up, too. This served as a refresher course and also taught me what is necessary to communicate with the child’s mind. I might mention here that I had two refresher courses. My youngest son was born when my oldest began college and the middle son was in high school.
Bringing my years of experience into the world of education, I feel, has many advantages. Attending college, interacting with the kids, and having several professors suggest I consider continuing in Education was a huge influence in my decision. Also, to be honest, since my youngest graduated college and moved to New York City, two years ago, I miss being part of the New Generation—feeling their energy, excitement about life, and, quite simply, just knowing what is on the horizon. Not being a dinosaur! William Ayer’s quote from his book, To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher, really struck a chord for me: “………. They may love what happens to themselves when they are with children, the ways in which they become better, more human, more generous.” I never want to lose that feeling!
There are two consistent cons to teaching and both are justified in this country: l) Lack of support and respect; 2) Salary for educators. It is different in other cultures. In taking college French I and II, I learned a great deal about education in France (and other European countries). Teachers are more revered than doctors or lawyers, and are afforded equally respectful salaries. However, we live in the United States, a country still in the infant stage, well perhaps now, toddler age. So, unless one is considering moving abroad, this is what you need to deal.
One thing I have witnessed, though, is the flexibility and security the teaching profession can and does offer. While raising my family, I often thought how terrific it would be if I had had a teaching degree. It can offer a mom and/or dad the opportunity of “being there” for his/her children and also having a meaningful career. Where else could you be home after school, off on the same holidays, and never miss out on a summer respite while children are growing up—invaluable. The other side of the coin is the business world’s instant gratification of a presentable salary in order to afford some luxuries; i.e., home, two cars, vacations, etc. I watched so many friends benefit in this way in the early years, but their high-powered jobs fell by the wayside. Those who are now on top, realizing a secure position in life, are the teachers, police, fireman, etc. Higher paying careers come and go and do not offer the opportunity of flexibility, growth, and self-satisfaction for a job well done, while also contributing to the betterment of society. Sometimes, one needs to look at the big picture, a lot now or a steady, rewarding, and secure future?
The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.
-William A. Ward