Editorial: Learning Your Options

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Teachers play huge formative roles in the lives of students. We can all think of at least a few teachers who inspired us and had a positive impact on our lives as academics and members of a community.

This being said, most of us can also recall teachers who were clearly there for the summers off and benefits.

A couple weeks ago, teachers colleges in Ontario sent out a first wave of acceptance letters. Do I know this because I applied and I got in? No.

I know because all on the same day, my Facebook newsfeed was flooded with statuses about people getting into teachers college.

I’m not against people celebrating their accomplishments on Facebook, but I have reservations about people entering into an already oversaturated industry for no apparent reason.

Everyone knows that there are no teaching jobs in Ontario. This begs the question: why are a vast number of students still going to school for an overly competitive profession?

I feel as though students who are on the cusp of graduating are thinking, “I don’t know what to do from here, and so I might as well go to teachers college.”

This kind of rationale just reinforces my belief that the education system is doing a terrible job of giving students an idea of what other options are out there.

It was grade three and we were supposed to go to school dressed as what we wanted to be when we grew up. While the boys came in their assortment of sports equipment, the girls were dressed in business casual, proud teachers-to-be. Looking back, that’s not what is concerning.

Kids naturally try to emulate the adults in their lives. The problem is these same kids come out of high school and even worse, university, still thinking that teaching is the only viable career out there.

Our education system needs to step up and invest in showing students what other careers are out there. But students need to step up, too.

Graduating from university is scary. There is a lot of pressure to know where you’re going and to get there fast.

Teaching is an attractive option when you get summers off, benefits and decent pay. But to me, those aren’t good enough reasons.

I do not want my children to be taught by teachers who are only in education because “they didn’t know what else to do.” I want my children to be taught by the people who know their passion is in education and who truly care about fostering a love of learning.

Meanwhile, these passionate teachers are going to have their jobs taken away by those who only became teachers for a lack of anything better to do.

If the disservice you’ll be doing to your peers and to future students isn’t enough to make you rethink applying to teachers college, take into consideration the fact that you are also selling yourself short.

Don’t settle. It can be tempting, especially when you’ve spent your entire arts education being asked, “Oh, so you want to be a teacher?” Don’t further perpetuate the misconception that the only thing you can do with an arts degree is teach.

Take some time off to figure out where your interests lie. Spend time volunteering, doing an internship or job shadowing. Be willing to tell people you are taking time to find out where you can best contribute to society.

This advice is as much for you as it is for me as, I start to think about what I’ll be doing after I graduate.

I know that the summers off and benefits won’t be worth it when we’re dealing with a generation that doesn’t know how to love learning because they didn’t have teachers who taught them how.

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