I am halfway through my degree, which means that I am finally going to have to come to a decision about my future career. For a long time there was only one option, but as the weeks have passed I have become increasingly uncertain: in the face of all the negativity about teaching, do I really still want to be a teacher?
Three reasons why my answer to that question is "no"
1. Stress and workload – It is clear that stress looms over teachers because of the pressure to meet targets and deliver a lesson that doesn’t sound like a lullaby. Just a cursory look through education blogs can tell you that teaching is an overworked and underappreciated profession where burnout is common. Do I really want to put myself through that?
2. Classroom battlegrounds – I think a sense of control in a profession is desirable and I am not sure teaching can achieve that with large class sizes and poor whole-school behaviour management strategies. Clearly, there are exceptions, but the perception you get is that, in many schools, behaviour is a constant and very real issue.
3. A lack of trust – The curriculum is, in essence, the ‘teaching bible’ in schools today, but this state intervention does constrain the autonomy of teachers in the classroom. As they are with the same class all year long, surely teachers should have more input in the curriculum than merely choosing how to follow the instructions given to them?
And yet, there are also three reasons that keep teaching in contention when it comes to my future plans, despite the problems outlined above.
1. Making a difference – Most of us have teachers to thank for getting us where we are today. Even Nicky Morgan had to thank Mrs Thynne at the annual Tory conference. The lessons taught by teachers stay with us forever and help shape the kind of person we are, so (in a way) being a teacher makes you almost immortal.
2. An exciting and varied vocation – My family are all teachers, so I know first-hand how the job changes every day and that makes it an exciting and engaging profession to work in. The idea that each morning you could have an entirely new experience is exciting and appealing.
3. Job security – Teaching is a stable profession, despite teachers sometimes believing accountability does not make it so. While in the private sector the constant fear of redundancy is very real, in teaching that threat is largely absent and so for a graduate with student debt, it is a very attractive proposition.
As yet, I have not come to a final decision on whether my future will include a career in teaching. But with every passing week, more negative stories about teaching seem to appear and that makes a decision to enter the profession that much harder.
Farzana Khan is currently an undergradtuate at UCL IoE studying for a BA in education studies