Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Why teaching?

I've been very fortunate over the past few weeks to have been involved in interviewing potential PGCE candidates. The first question they are asked is 'why teaching?'. I like the simplicity of this question....why this, why now? 

To date no one has said 'the holidays and the pension' though I'm not denying some may have thought it. And these are perfectly good reasons. As a parent the  holidays are very attractive, though I still maintain that teaching is easier than looking after two children under the age of five. The answers do, however, tend to fall into three categories; (a) love of the subject (in this case history), (b) personal experience (usually involving an 'inspirational' teacher) and (c) wanting to do something 'worthwhile' (though there are variations on what is deemed 'worthwhile'. There are, of course, some who identify with more than one but none, to date, who have fallen outside of the aforementioned. For me it is, to a larger or lesser degree, a combination of all three......

I am passionate about history (though mainly political), I was fortunate enough to have an inspirational and brilliant history and politics teacher (thanks again,  Mr Kelly) and, for the past 10 years I have taught because I believe it is a worthwhile profession. I've had my fair share of shit jobs to appreciate that job satisfaction goes a long long way. It is possibly due to my own background that I relate mostly with (c)  though. Not only do I think teaching is a noble profession but  also believe that education has the potential to transform lives......

Growing up on a council estate in North Wales during the 1980/90s I experienced first-hand the emancipatory and transformative power of education. I also witnessed the devastating impact of deregulation and privatisation on communities but will need to save that for another day. Going to university opened up opportunities which I believe every child should be afforded. I am privileged to have the life I have and it is because of a decent state education and a supportive family. For that I have a huge debt of gratitude which I'm still trying to repay. 

Anyhow, back to the purpose of this post, I'm really interested in understanding why people become teachers and would love to undertake some research in this area. i'd be interested to find out, amongst other things, if a teacher's background:

1. Influences their reasons for wanting to teach.
2. Shapes their philosophy on the purpose of education.
3. Determines their pedagogical positioning. 

I'd love to do this a piece of life history research conducting interviews with newly qualified, experienced and retired teachers. Seeking answers to these questions may help with teacher recruitment and retention. And then again, it may not. In the meantime though, why teaching?

* If anyone is interested in being part of this potential research study then please get in touch via email Simond@edgehill.ac.uk or on Twitter. 

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