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Recently over lunch, a dedicated career teacher told me that she could no longer advise anyone to go into teaching; the joy is gone, she said, with teachers now locked into regimented lesson plans and required to spend all their time chasing test scores. She also worried about what we’re doing to kids in the classroom—demanding more and more of them at younger and younger ages. There’s no time now to let them be kids, she said, or color outside the lines, if they get to color at all. It was a depressing lunch.
I drove home with a lot to think about, especially since I had encouraged my own daughter when she decided several years ago to change careers, earn a second college degree, and go into the classroom. Had I steered her wrong? Remembering our animated conversations after she began teaching, however, I don’t think so. Teaching may be different today—the demands greater and the stressors more intense, but it still engages the heart and the mind in ways unlike those of any other profession. No two days are alike, and every day is a fresh opportunity to achieve something glorious, even for one unforgettable moment.
Students aside—and that’s a big aside—it’s true that our profession is less respected in some quarters than it once was, for reasons that seem to be bound up in politics and publicity. If a teacher is arrested for some terrible offense in any part of the country, it becomes national news; a steady drumbeat of these stories erodes confidence, creating the impression that teachers somehow have degenerated into an immoral lot, not to be trusted. On the positive side, however, every time teachers risk their lives or lose them trying to protect their students, which seems to be happening more and more frequently, their actions make the news, too. Ask the parents of those students if teachers can be trusted.
How to decide whether a four-year degree is right for you.
In a post from May last year we pondered the question, should everyone go to college? And what might still be surprising to some, the answer was a resounding no. As eNotes editor and college professor Jamie described it then,
I believe anyone who wants an education should pursue one. But I also see many incredibly gifted students who have skills that they are actively discouraged from mastering because they are supposed to have a Bachelor’s degree. I see young people who have no real interest or desire to stay in school another four years who are miserable and many who are racking up debt when they could be doing something they enjoy, avoiding debt, and making money.
The prevailing opinion in America is that every student must go to college; if they don’t, they’ve somehow failed, or been failed by the system. Yet the cost of an American college education is among the highest in the world. So, if that college degree does you no favors in the job force, or if you drop out before completing your four years, you’re burdened with a mass of student debt to shoulder for the next twenty years.
That’s why it’s important to look at the costs of a college education, weighing out the pros and cons of each side and determining what’s right for you. If you plan to spend your life in academia, of course a university education is a necessity. But if you’d be better suited to a skilled trade, would the debt and time spent out of the workforce pay off? Here’s an excellent infographic from affordable-online-colleges.net to help you weigh your options. You might be surprised by what you find, like the high success rates of those who choose a two-year college over pursuing a Bachelor’s degree.
Read on and let us know your thoughts and questions!
10. Patron: If I was feeling particularly existentialist, what book would you recommend for me?
9. Patron: Hi. I’m looking for a book called Bay Wolves. Can you help me find it?
Me: Sure, let me look it up for you… Hmmm, sorry we don’t have any books by that name. Do you know the author’s name, maybe?
Patron: No, but I think it’s spelled kind of weird, like B-E-O… wolves.
Me: …Do you mean Beowulf?
8. Patron: Can you help me find the Law Library?
Me: [pulls out a map] The Law Library is right here. You just walk down this street, turn this corner, and you’ll be there.
Patron: Thanks, hopefully they’ll have a book about Newton’s Laws.
Me: Uh, maybe you’re looking for the Physics Library instead…?
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