Monday, April 21, 2014

Is Teaching a Pathway to Misery?

Via Twitter I stumbled upon this article from Education Week which muses over the dissatisfaction teachers feel over their career. Generally speaking, we're undervalued, underpaid, overworked, or so says the article. Also, according to the article, physicians and lawyers have it little better.


The article makes a good point at frustration over how we are held accountable for outcomes that are in large part determined by forces outside our control. It's true for teachers, physicians, and lawyers. Another good point: that the profession would probably be enhanced by some sort of rigorous board exam qualifying one for the classroom. 

Perhaps teachers, physicians, and lawyers are dissatisfied because we deal in worlds characterized by uncertainty. In other posts I've quoted an influential mentor who insisted that the mark of a profession like these is having the humility to understand that professionals cannot guarantee outcomes, we simply undertake steps to make desirable outcomes more likely. But the work world of 2014 is driven by the certainty data seems to offer, of increasing transparency into how businesses, political officials, and public institutions operate. It's driven by an insistence to cut costs. We are programmed against believing that certainty is something of an act of arrogance, and we are programmed to operate in an environment in which some inefficiency can actually serve some good. Perhaps we're not miserable because our jobs are harder or less rewarding than these jobs used to be, but because the communities we serve are looking for us to deliver outputs we're unaccustomed to delivering with the precision desired. 

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