After donating blood a while ago, I was sitting with two other students. We were introducing ourselves and in the course of our conversation I told them what my major is (Elementary Education). It was interesting to note their different responses. One of them did not look very impressed and told me I should instead be a junior high or high school teacher. And let’s be honest; I think a lot of us pursuing elementary education or other teaching degrees have been confronted with people who seem to think that they are “weak” majors. Sometimes I’ve been tempted to think that myself. But I was flattered by the other student’s response. He went out of his way to respectfully remark how important Elementary Education is.
I think that in order for our school system to reach where it needs to be, we need more people like that second student, who really respect teaching. I don’t say this to try to get more praise for myself, but rather in general, teaching needs to hold a more esteemed position in our society if we want our school system to flourish. When teaching becomes more esteemed, more people are drawn to it, it becomes more competitive, and teachers are more motivated to do well. In my human development class this past semester, we discussed how Asian schools (who are currently doing better than US schools) differ from us. One of the big differences is that teachers hold a more esteemed position in their society. I think this is one of the keys to improving our schools.
So how do we create more respect for teachers? In my opinion, our society shows respect largely by how much we pay a profession. We either need to pay teachers more or come up with something else to make sure teachers are getting the respect they deserve for the key role they play in our future. What are your ideas for promoting respect for teachers?