Sunday, November 18, 2012

"Teaching's a crap job."

"I've done that crap job in Japan. People couldn't pay me enough to do that again. Besides I'm wanting a real job with a good future." This blanket statement appeared in response to a post on G+ where I've found most people are thoughtful with their comments.

If there's one way to get a whole profession offside, that's it. Dismiss every job even remotely associated with teaching as "crap" and with no future. Ouch. 

Needless to say, it was tempting to retaliate in kind, but I resisted the impulse and let my thoughts settle. What did I really think? Why did I feel so insulted?

This person didn't know I was a teacher, so presumably hadn't deliberately set out to be hurtful. But she also hadn't made any effort to assess her attitude or explore what she disliked about the position she'd held in Japan. 

I had thought of offering a few suggestions: questions she could ponder, people she could talk to, articles to read, perhaps some books. But after that rude statement, I didn't feel particularly generous. 

I replied as follows: 

“You may not have realised that by dismissing teaching as a 'crap" job and stating that it's a job with no real future, you're insulting every one of us who has devoted our lives to improving outcomes for students.

Students come in all varieties - they could be disability students, adults returning to study, migrants, special education children, crusty old blokes who need some workplace training, university students and a massive range of other people who need and seek skills from teachers. Are they really all 'crap' jobs with no future?

Without teachers in one form or another, essential skills couldn't be passed on to future generations as efficiently - think of bakers, pharmacists  doctors, nurses, aged care workers, road workers, engineers to name a few. 

The effect of hearing my profession dismissed rudely and thoughtlessly as a "crap" job with no future hurts.

You may have meant to say the position you had at a specific location in Japan didn't suit you or your personality. That would have been valid, honest, understandable and shown a courteous respect for others who have enjoyed a fulfilling career teaching in one form or another.”

In hindsight, there are things I could have added or discarded. Rearranging the paragraphs would have been good. However, I doubt it would have made any difference, the writer of the flippant statement didn't return. Some people have little desire in gaining self awareness and no interest in thinking about how their words and actions affect others.  

I wonder how many others have had their career described as a "crap job"? What do you say? How does it make you feel? Do you try to explain the positives or not bother at all?

You might have been working in the field for 30+years; moved from area to area adding to your enjoyment as you shed the aspects you dislike and focus more on those which compliment your interests, strengths and values.

I’ve written about my love of working with adults and those with learning difficulties in Learning Difficulties in Adults.  I've also discussed some of the challenges of working with adults who’ve become redundant in Redundancy Hurts. I've drabbled about teaching and students during the A - Z April blogging challenge - quite a few of the drabbles are included in this list.

The benefits of my teacher training course have stood the test of time and I’ve enjoyed many challenging roles as well as struggled though a few jobs that didn't suit me.

Whilst I now work mainly in as a career counsellor in private practice, I bring the skills of a teacher with me. The word ‘teacher’ doesn’t define me or my career, but it’s part of who I am and has provided me with rich insights and opportunities.

As a study skills teacher I’ve worked with young people as well as adults. It’s been at various times challenging, rewarding, stressful, infuriating and fulfilling. As I discovered gaps in my skillset, I upgraded and refined my skills: career counselling, learning difficulties, Acceptance Commitment Therapy and further courses in counselling.

Each of these courses has been taught by a teacher. On the whole they were keen, motivated and motivating professionals, encouraging their students to see, acknowledge and build on their strengths. To dismiss the profession globally as crap does a deep disservice to the dedicated people who help others improve their self esteem and job opportunities and even reach their potential. To imply that teaching is a job of lesser value is insulting to teachers and students worldwide.

If the person who made the above remark chooses to retrain, I wonder who they think will present the course? Will they be grateful for the opportunity to learn something new or build on an existing skillset? Will the course open up job prospects, provide entertainment in the form of a hobby, dance or exercise class or help her learn to cope with loss or bereavement?

By using the word "crap" a whole conversations has been closed down.  The opportunity to share, support and learn has gone. 

So while teaching might not suit everyone as a rewarding career it should be a valued and valuable profession. It's far more than a job and it can have a good future.

Who teaches circus skills?
Who passes on the knowledge of mosaic, how to train animals,
make The Big Top, costumes or railways?
Words are powerful, they have the ability to close down or open up dialogue. Which do you choose?



Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue .. we're all teachers, though some of us may not have qualifications as such.

Love the post - you've set things out really clearly.

I read a brief quote by Seth Godin - who is known for his pithy comments / articles ... except of course I sent it off into the netosphere and can't find it again! Essentially it said ..

If you have a job - (lucky you) and enjoy all aspects of it - then you can leave with your head held high. His was much pithier than that!!

i.e. working as a janitor is as important as working as a manager - probably more so ..

Cheers - well written ... Hilary

sue said...

lol Hilary, I do that too! He's right though, we need all sorts of people in all kinds of jobs.

The crappy job is in the eye of the beholder - we all have different needs, desires, skills and dreams ... and I believe it's courteous to be respectful about the choices of others... It's also important to remember that this horribly pervasive negative attitude can rub off on children and encourage them to be disrespectful and see teachers as fair game ... which sadly impacts on young people who'd make great teachers wondering why they'd bother when there's such disrespect.

Talking of good teachers, you're a wonderful one in the blogosphere :-)

Manzanita said...

Dear Sue,
Been a long time since I've posted. And it hasn't been because of my crap job. Ha... Kidding.

Consider the source, my dear. Who would want to be taught by anyone who called anything a "crap something." So you know what kind of a teacher she must be. My mind was in tune with Hilary as I thought that we are all teachers in a way. I learn something every day from people who are not aware they are teaching. You also teach with your posts. You give such marvelous information about topics that are often new to me.

You are so far above that, it's not worthy of your concern.
Love ya, Manzanita

sue said...

Manzanita, I fully agree that we're all teachers - for good or ill! I often think one of the joys of blogging is learning from people around the world; you've certainly opened my eyes to not only nature in your part of the world, but dance too. thankyou