With the rough economy over the last few years, there has (rather inexplicably to me) been a sudden surge in the number of people wanting to be teachers. I realized this when I tried to renew my teaching license (yes, teachers have licenses) and the local department of education, usually a model of competent efficiency (giggle, snort) was stunningly, spectacularly backed up. Like by..oh…a year or so.
Holy shister! Forget unemployment numbers and the Fed. A year’s worth of paperwork on Joe Schmoes that want to be overworked, underpaid and regularly dissed by parents and politicians? That’s the only economic indicator I need to tell me that something just ain’t right. And besides the sheer number of people lining up for one of the world’s most obnoxious jobs, I’m guessing that something else just ain’t right. Namely, the reasons for doing so.
Now, perhaps I’m a bit of a cynic, but I believe the becoming-a-teacher-in-the-midst-of-an-economic-crisis thought process goes something like this:
“Oh, poop! I just lost my job! I need a paycheck. What’s something that’s guaranteed? I know…teaching! The world will always needs teachers, and everyone knows something. Let’s see…what do I know? Business? I’m going to become a business/economics/something vaguely related to my previous field teacher!”
Voilá. Problem solved.
Except that the fact you know something does not, in any way, shape, or form, mean you should be teaching it.
I’m not knocking the unemployed. Oh, heavens no. I’ve got too many friends who were hit by the economic downturn (a rather euphemistic phrase that I, personally, think should be replaced with “the economic this-is-gonna-suck-big-buttcheek-for-a-long-time-turn) to tread on those down on their luck. I am, however, snotty enough to take on anyone who thinks teaching is a reasonable solution to losing a job just because you know something. That’s like hiring an astrologer to lead a trip to outer space. Or a chef to build your vegetable garden. Or the architect of the Hoover Dam to fix your clogged toilet. Sure, he may know something about water, but can he deal with disgusting balls of water-logged toilet paper?
That’s right. Didn’t think so.
So in the interest of saving a few of these folks a lot of headache (and believe me, if you haven’t taught in public schools, you don’t know headache) and, hopefully, cutting down the line so I can get my license renewed slightly faster, I thought I’d just offer up a little “should you teach?”pre-test (and if you don’t know what a pre-test is, you’ve already got one strike against you.)
The instructions are very simple. Simply circle “true” or “false” for each of the following statements:
Hormone-crazed teenagers are delightful creatures.* True/false
*Depending on your future targeted grade level, feel free to replace “hormone-crazed teenagers” with “budding hormone-crazed pre-teens” or “squealing groups of small children.”
Answering fifty emails per day while having no more than thirty-three free seconds to read email per day is totally doable. True/ False
Pretending that someone is breaking into your school with a gun and you are in charge of preventing massive loss of life is a great imaginary game to play with kids. True/ False
Fielding behavior issues with my own offspring is so entertaining that I would really like to do it with thirty other children that don’t belong to me. Then go home and do it with my own children all over again. True/ False
Fart jokes are hilarious. True/ False
I love to repeat myself eight-hundred times a day. At a minimum. True/ False
I find extensive trainings on such topics as child abuse, drug abuse, and suicide and an uplifting exercise in learning. True/ False
I love small concrete and cinder-block spaces filled with high decibel sound. True/ False
I absolutely do not need technology to work when I expect it to. True/ False
Everything on my own, personal desk (family photos included) is absolutely up for grabs and/or public use, no permission needed. True/ False
Got it? Alrighty, then. The grading on this one is easy (don’t know easy grading tricks? Oops. Another point against you.) The answers should all be true. Now, since no one is perfect we’ll just hold you to the same standards as our students. A “C” (70%) is a reasonable level of mastery (though certainly nothing to write home about.) If you circled “true” for at least seven out of ten of these questions, by all means…submit your application! We’d love to have you because you’re an even bigger nutjob than we are! However, six out of ten “trues?” A “D”? Nope – sorry. Just not going to cut it. Time and time again, I’ve seen that students with D’s just end up failing the next level, so you might as well cut your losses,. You’ll hate teaching. Dust off the old resumé, and stick with something you know and enjoy. Or at least will enjoy a hell of a lot more than the absurdity that an enclosed classroom of broiling energy.
I’m not leading any trips to outer space. And I’m certainly not building any Hoover Dam. So if you’re not absolutely passionate about education, my not-so-subtle suggestion would be to just stay out of it.
I’ll deal with my own water-logged balls of disgusting toilet paper.
And I’ll like it.