“To recruit the brightest and best, teaching needs to be a high-status occupation.” – Lord Andrew Adonis
It is interesting how our culture works, especially here in the US. We idolize those who entertain us, such as actors, actresses, rock stars and professional athletes to name a few. These people bring joy – and sometimes heartbreak – into our lives. With all the attention, time, and money that are put into our love for the entertainment sector, society needs to take a deep breath and reflect on our priorities: should we be elevating these people to sometimes god-like status?
In my opinion, and that of many others, there is no more important profession than that of education. It is the noblest of professions that quite frankly provides qualified candidates for virtually every job. Without educators would we have doctors, lawyers, engineers, politicians, electricians, mechanics, or anyone in the entertainment industry? Yet for all that educators do to mould and inspire young minds to think and make a difference in this world, their profession is constantly dragged through the mud. Our priorities are so out of whack, and if things don't change fast it will become even harder to attract the best and brightest to work with our children. Not for nothing, our children deserve the best.
So what if we treated educators like professional athletes? Let's take a minute and see how things could look if our priorities changed.
Even though the video above is based on comedy, imagine if we viewed educators in a different light, putting them on par with other professions, and greatly above those in the entertainment and sports industries? We have a great deal to learn from other countries that value the role of educators above all else, as noted by Peter Dolton:
“In recent years it's become a truism that attracting good quality and well-qualified people into teaching is accepted as the essential prerequisite to raising educational standards. In Finland and Singapore, teachers are recruited from the most-qualified graduates, all with a second degree. One obvious way these countries have attracted the best and brightest into teaching is by paying them well."
The bottom line is that we won't improve the status of educators unless teaching and education in general is recognised as a worthy profession. It is time for society to shift its priorities. In the short term, let social media be your bullhorn to amplify the essential work you do for children every day.
Eric Sheninger is a senior fellow and thought leader on digital leadership with the International Center for Leadership in Education