The NSW Government are intending to introduce tough new tests to ensure only the best and the brightest get in to university to study teaching. Many issues have been raised around this including the fact that the skills required to get a high score on a test aren’t necessarily the skills needed to be the best teacher in the classroom. There we agree. But when it comes to tests being the way to get the best and the brightest, I completely disagree.
To me, the easiest way to get the best and the brightest in the teaching profession is to provide better support and better pay.
I recently met a wonderful young man at a dinner. Being a gentleman he walked me to the station through the city which gave us a chance to discuss a wide range of issues as we strolled. It’s not often you get this opportunity with someone you have just met, so we took advantage of it. One of the things we discussed was his aspiration to become a teacher. His hesitation, he told me, was the $20k pay cut he would have to take to enter into teaching as a profession. Even at the top pay level for teachers he would be earning a fraction of what he could earn on his current career path. This was an intelligent, caring young man. Someone who is passionate about learning, about educating others. Exactly the kind of person we should want to be a teacher. And he probably wasn’t going to be – because of the money.
For me, that’s a big issue. And putting aside the attitude of society towards teachers (everything from “you get too many holidays” to “oh, I could never be a teacher, you must be an angel”) the answer to getting better people into the profession seems pretty obvious.
Want the best and the brightest to do teaching? Pay teachers more.
Higher pay would mean teaching is more accessible to more people, like my new friend who couldn’t afford to take the $20k pay cut as he has a mortgage.
Higher pay would mean more people want to be teachers. Higher demand for entry would raise the ATAR. Bam – only the best and the brightest can get in. No extra tests required.
Want a good quality of education in public schools? Pay public teachers more. Make the best and the brightest want to work there. Make teaching a more respected and desirable profession.
I’m not saying our current teachers aren’t the best and the brightest, my best friend and my husband are both teachers and both incredibly intelligent people, but both teach because they want to help others. That’s a very noble and amazing thing, but we can’t consistently rely on there being enough highly intelligent people who are willing to earn less than they could elsewhere, to put up with attitude from students, parents, society at large, all for a genuine want to help others, to weed out those who think teaching is going to be a bludge with lots of holidays and not much work (and probably don’t last too long in the profession, to be honest, so waste everyone’s time and money).
And we shouldn’t have to.
The next generation of minds are in the hands of these people. Why wouldn’t we want those hands to be the absolute best?
For the love of teaching – Just pay them more!
Do you think teachers are underpaid? Do you feel teachers are undervalued? Do you think they should be paid more?