Why Become an Educator?

I was tweeting today with a former ASCD Conference Scholar about interviews he’s doing to fill positions at his school. @ScottHerrmann is a principal in Illinois and just one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. He’s also incredibly passionate about education and those that want to mold young minds. Today though, he shared an interview that made us both shake our heads.

Question to interviewee: “Why do you want to teach?”

Answer: “I got laid off from Abbott so I figured I’d become a teacher.”

Seriously folks? Unfortunately, this seems to be a growing problem. Another former educator in my office said that with the new emphasis on bringing in people who’ve worked in the field and not been educated in the education pedagogy, more and more administrators are facing interviews that go this way. The candidates no longer have a job in the private sector, so they figure they’ll fall back on teaching, because anyone can do that right?

While I’ll be the first to admit that formalized training without practical experience isn’t going to make the best teacher either, I hate to see the de-scaling of the industry so completely. Practical experience in a direct industry is helpful, and can contribute valuable knowledge, but a great educator needs to know more than how to do the skill; they also need to be able to teach that skill, so that others will also be successful.

As the United States moves forward in its conversations on what’s needed to make education better, hopefully this is a topic that will get a little conversation time.

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