The Value of Teachers

A speaker in a conference I was watching online in a DistruptHR event talked about the different levels of teaching that takes place for employees. When I graduated from college with a BS degree in business and started my first job, I had to be trained on what was expected and had to learn the operations. Organizations worldwide hire employees who have been taught and educated in school. Once hired, the same employees are taught and trained how to do the job for which they have been hired. In almost every occupation this is the case. Those who graduate in software engineering or programming know code and kernel level development, but they still need to learn the applications utilized by companies to be productive. Those who graduate in accounting still need to learn the organization’s accounting system and reporting mechanisms. Medical professionals go through extensive training after college or graduate school before they are ready. I could give many other examples, but suffice it to say, in almost every occupation and profession an employee must be taught or trained to contribute.

I say “almost” every occupation and profession because the exception is teachers. Most education majors who attend a reputable college or university are required to spend significant time in an early childhood, elementary, middle, or high school classroom. The students are not just present, they are active in teaching students while a student. Education majors could walk across the stage at graduation, receive their diploma, and step right into a classroom and be immediately productive. Many education majors, like my daughter graduating from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC, have already been developing and presenting lesson plans. She has been observing, working, and teaching in the classroom since she was a Freshman.

Imagine the value of an employee in any industry with this ability. Day 1 they are ready to do the job without additional training. Training costs would be slashed. Profitability would soar. The learning curve would be miniscule. The economic impact would be in the billions of dollars.

Our teachers have been prepared to create immediate value. But how do we in the US treat this incredible resource? We under pay and overwork them. We create work environments filled with politics that have nothing to do with educating children. We make them beg and borrow just to get financial resources to purchase supplies for the classroom. In many cases the teacher pays for these supplies out of their own pocket. We treat one of the most important professions a person can pursue as one that is less important than most. I think it is shameful.

My daughter chose her education path because, from a very young age, she wanted to teach and help young people learn. She never imagined doing anything else. She will graduate with high honors in May and a school will be incredibly fortunate to get her skills, dedication, and passion. Many students do not consider education in college because of the reasons above. It is time for us to get mad. It is time for us to demand that a system be created that attracts the best and the brightest and produces a product anyone would want to buy. It is way past time that we take education seriously and make it a priority. And if you think teaching is easy, just go spend a day in a school and see what the job is really all about.

Know a teacher? Thank that person for their commitment to selfless service. If you are teacher and are reading this: THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!!

To Your Success!
Richard Davis, SPHR, SHRM-SCP


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