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Do you remember the phrase, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach”? I was thinking about this cynical comment, attributed to H.L. Mencken, and wondered if the teachers who chose to be teachers in the 20th century were aware of his statement and if their decision to become teachers was affected by it.
Nowadays, I wonder if teachers appreciate being in the profession. Was there a time when they were genuinely proud to be teachers? Did the requirements of the profession drive them away? Did the types of students they had to try to manage make teaching too difficult? In my exploration, I found that teachers joined the profession for a wide assortment of reasons, and they also left for just as many. I also thought about recent posts I’ve written about the teachers’ unions that were making outrageous demands for their members, and that the teachers didn’t necessarily agree with what they were demanding, but didn’t know what to do about it. What I know at this point, however, is that teachers were highly regarded at one time, and their reputation as a profession has taken a beating. So I wanted to know why at least some of them signed up, and why others decided to leave.
I remember the time when parents would almost always support a teacher over the complaints of their children, especially if it was obvious that the children were probably misrepresenting what the teacher had done or said. The parents insisted that the teacher had the last word and that the children should straighten up. Although it’s unclear whether a parent should have always sided with a teacher, their reaction to a child’s protest demonstrated that the teacher was held in fairly high esteem.