Topic Tuesday: Should teachers be required to work in their field of study?

One thing that this COVI-19 crisis has exposed is that there are flaws in many of our systems in place. Education is a massive system in our country that has been consistent in lagging behind most other countries as well as being run by one of the most powerful unions there is. Efforts to catch up with a higher global standard have fallen short in nearly every core subject area, ie: No Child Left Behind and Common Core. With this information, you would think that educators would be humble and open to suggestion, but they are the contrary instead. In my experience, tenured teachers come across as defensive and unapproachable. Many of them have spent their entire lives in the education system (high school to college to graduate school to teaching) and never work in the ‘real world’. I do not intend to take away from the fact that educating high schoolers and college students is not deserving of praise; teachers put up with a classroom full of young students from all backgrounds and temperaments, parents with varying degrees of involvement and compassion, and out-of-touch administrators that seem to be more concerned with statistics than actual education. Being a teacher is a difficult job at best, and they have gigantic responsibility. Therefore, I believe that a job with such responsibility and exposure should have effective continuing education as well as ‘real world’ experience.

I know that one perk of being a teacher is that there are built in vacations into the school year and summers off. Most jobs do not get summers off, and with a failing education system, wouldn’t it make sense to stop rewriting textbooks and lesson plans and require teachers to spend time in their field of study?

Perhaps the music teacher should have to get a summer job in an orchestra or in the music business, the science teacher should work as a biologist or as an EMT, the English teacher could work in a library or teach English as a second language.

Some of the best teachers that I have come across have made education their second career, or not their career at all. In a district that I worked in, there was a retired corrections officer who taught Government. Not only was he so practical and effective in his lessons, but his classroom management skills were top-notch. There was not much that he could not handle in his classroom without calling for assistance. Another teacher I know spent years after his college experience painting on his own and selling his art for a living. He now teaches art in a high school, while still successfully painting on his own, and every aspiring artist in that school flocks to his instruction. It’s possible that it is his laid-back personality, but I think it has to do with the techniques he uses and the advice he gives his students on what to expect after school in the fickle world of art.  

There is something to be said with real world experience and employment. I’m not proposing that every summer teachers need to find temporary employment, but maybe once every five years they need to get into their field. Maybe it could cut down on conference days during the school year or lead to possible grants for their departments. Who knows? All I know is that the quarantines, remote schooling, and hybrid systems are a freaking joke. Teachers are not supposed to teach new content on remote days, but that leads to an information dump on the in-person days. Or, in my experience this year, a complete lack of caring for developmental progress at all.

And teachers don’t even want to get back to a regular school week, after complaining that this school year is too complicated and difficult. Sounds like malarkey to me! If we can play sports, then we can go to school. Get them back in school 5 days a week … with teachers who have real world experience!

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