I wish I could be a teacher again

Some thoughts from ThoughtBox's Founder Rachel Musson on why she left teaching:

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People often ask me if I miss teaching.

Yes. Yes I do – and what’s more, I really wish I could be a teacher again.

I wish I hadn’t had to leave the profession because I no longer believed in what it was doing and where it was going. I wish I hadn’t had to leave my secure monthly pay check, my pension, my holidays, my community and my security. I wish I still spent my days surrounded by bright young minds eager to learn. I wish I still had my colleagues around me and the vitalising camaraderie of the staff room. I wish I hadn’t had to leave the mainstream and go it alone in order to be able to try to educate in something I actually believed in and something that made sense.

I really wish I could be a teacher again.

I wish that we hadn’t created an education system where exam results and competitiveness were given more value than the nurturing of young people’s emotional health. I wish we hadn’t somehow decided that the value of our education system was in teaching kids to pass exams rather than to inspire them, to fill them with wonder and to prepare them for living.

I really wish I could be a teacher again.

I wish we hadn’t stopped trusting teachers to the point where we make them justify every single thing they say or do. I wish we hadn’t made teachers’ lives so stressful that their mental health is suffering and they are leaving the profession in droves. I wish we hadn’t started punishing children from as young as five years old by testing them against each other and then branding them as “winners or losers” for the rest of their time in school. I wish we didn’t stigmatise those who couldn’t jump through hoops and then give them nothing to aspire to other than moving up the ranks from set five to set four (or whatever the demoralising equivalent may be).

I really wish I could be a teacher again.

I wish we hadn’t decided that education was the “engine of our economy” and the point of school was to prepare students to be a part of the economic growth of our country. I wish we didn’t punish those who thought that maybe, just maybe, life was about something other than money. I wish we hadn’t monetised learning. I wish we hadn’t cut school funding for the arts in favour of more “academic” subjects. I wish that all children could learn to understand the value that music, theatre, art and dance can bring to their lives and how much they teach us about what it means to be human and alive. I wish that we hadn’t started selling off playing fields and football pitches to housing developers so we can furnish more computer labs. I wish we hadn’t stopped letting children play outside.

I really wish I could be a teacher again.

I wish we hadn’t compartmentalised learning into boxes, separating knowledge from experience and delivering it in abstract chunks. I wish we didn’t say that some subjects were better, harder, more important than others. I wish we didn’t use the term “soft” to describe skills such as integrity, compassion, communication, teamwork, responsibility, kindness; deflating both their worth and their meaning. I wish we gave these “soft skills” some air time, embedding them into the ethos of our schools and allowing our children to truly value their meaning, rather than abstractly teaching them in short, often optional, lessons.

I wish we hadn’t developed a system that punishes those whose emotional life is so full of turmoil it won’t sit still and be quiet.

I really wish I could be a teacher again.

I wish our young people’s mental health hadn’t deteriorated so rapidly over the past five years. I wish our government wasn’t failing to recognise why this was happening and that our school systems have a tremendous part to play in this decline. I wish the nurturing of emotional health wasn’t seen as something you can “teach” but more as something that was embedded at the very core of our learning and was seen as vital to every school.

I wish we would stop punishing our young people if they don’t fit the mould.

People often ask me if I miss teaching. Yes. Yes I do – and what’s more, I really wish I could be a teacher again. But right now, I don’t want to be a teacher in a system that makes no sense. More than anything, though, I wish I wasn’t having to work to change a system that makes no sense, in order to be part of something I actually believe in.

I wish we could all wake up to the fact that this system isn’t working.

I believe that our children deserve an education that values the whole child. I believe that our children deserve to be educated in empathy and emotional intelligence, as well as learning information. I believe that teaching our children how to think and to feel helps them to make sense of the world. I believe that our education system is broken and it is time to fix it.

I really wish I could be a teacher again.

 

If you agree that our education system is broken and needs fixing, please sign your name in support of a different approach to how we educate our children.

www.thoughtboxeducation.com/education-evolution

Rachel MussonComment