17 February 2011

The Nobility of Teachers

At dinner Sunday afternoon, my mom got on her soapbox, this time complaining about Mitch Daniel’s attempt to run education like a business.  This seemed especially hypocritical of her, for she voted for the man way back when he was promising to run government more like a business, and because she claims to be a conservative, both socially and fiscally.  Needless to say, I was quite perplexed to hear her complain about how having higher education standards and breaking the Indiana teachers’ union was a bad thing.

As she continued her harangue, she began to complain about how Mitch Daniel’s was trying to use monetary incentives to modify teacher behavior.  And then she pointed out how “teachers aren’t in it for the money.”

She needn’t have wasted her breath around me, for I am one who fully supports the complete privatization of education.  And this includes repealing the mandatory education laws.  Still, her claim of inherent nobility nagged at me for most of the week.

Now, it’s true that my parents don’t make a lot of money as teachers, and I highly doubt that either one of them would show up to work if they weren’t paid for it.  But that’s not what bothered me.

Instead, what nagged at me is how she was essentially claiming that teachers are inherently noble for thinking beyond their pecuniary interests, as if everyone is to applaud them for being so gracious and wonderful.  When I thought about it, I realized that most workers, at least of the salaried variety, are not drawn to a specific job by money.  What I mean by this is that few people are solely concerned with wages when choosing a job.

I know I’m not.  I wouldn’t work as a painter, roofer, construction, or in IT if I didn’t love doing that work.  While I wouldn’t work for free, I also wouldn’t work if I hated it.

Unsurprisingly, teachers are the same way.  Are wages a factor for teachers when making career decisions?  Absolutely.  Are the sole concern?  Absolutely not.  That teachers are not driven solely by “greed” doesn’t make them special; it makes them like everyone else.  And, as such, I refuse to applaud them for the indistinct accomplishment of being a normal human being.

UPDATE: Turns out teachers aren't so noble after all.

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