Tuesday, October 20, 2009

In it for the money ... ?

Today’s class discussion really got me thinking about my “investment” in my education. After being in school for five years, money is always an issue. Because I am putting so much time and money into my education, I’ve started to question if it is worth it. In class we discussed how much exactly is invested in our education. Cost of tuition, cost of books, rent and other expenses such as food, internet, and phone, plus the amount of money we would be making if working full time – it all adds up really quickly. Multiply that by 5 years. It’s crazy to think about. In addition, there is no guarantee that there will be a job waiting for me in the location I want when I complete my degree. I’m going to need to work for a while to make up everything I have invested. Thus putting off other plans I have for my future such as having a family. Am I really going to be a better teacher because I went to school for 5 years instead of 1?

A first year teaching salary is not exactly amazing. At the same time, am I going to have to start paying expenses out of my own pocket to provide quality educational materials for those students in my classroom because funding gets cut? Let’s face it, the amount of time and money invested in our education is hardly reflected in our pay. So why do we do it? Hopefully the answer for most is because we love to teach, we want to make a difference, we find the field interesting, or we want to use it as a means to a different end. It’s interesting that we go to school just as long as pharmacists and make less than half what they do in the first year of work. In addition, they are able to sign contracts with a pharmacy to guarantee a position and often receive bursaries to pay for some of their education. I know that this is a very very important job but is it THAT much more important than teaching? Why is it that schools don’t invest in their educators’ education? Educators are not getting the funding and recognition they greatly deserve.

Luckily for me I love children and I love to teach. It will all hopefully be worth it when I am finished. It is more valuable to me to enjoy going to work and make a difference than it is to have a lot of money. Still, the discussion is a little depressing (did Robert mention that this class would be depressing?? I don’t remember). Well, everyone should read this speech and hopefully it will brighten your day! Check out the youtube video as well – it makes me laugh.

What Teachers Make by Taylor Mali


He says the problem with teachers is,
"What's a kid going to learn
from someone who decided his best option in life
was to become a teacher?"
He reminds the other dinner guests that it's true
what they say about teachers:
Those who can, do; those who can't, teach.

I decide to bite my tongue instead of his
and resist the temptation to remind the other dinner guests
that it's also true what they say about lawyers.

Because we're eating, after all, and this is polite company.

"I mean, you're a teacher, Taylor," he says.
"Be honest. What do you make?"

And I wish he hadn't done that
(asked me to be honest)
because, you see, I have a policy
about honesty and ass-kicking:
if you ask for it, I have to let you have it.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional medal of honor
and an A- feel like a slap in the face.
How dare you waste my time
with anything less than your very best.

I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall
in absolute silence. No, you may not work in groups.
No, you may not ask a question.
Why won't I let you get a drink of water?
Because you're not thirsty, you're bored, that's why.
I make parents tremble in fear when I call home:
I hope I haven't called at a bad time,
I just wanted to talk to you about something Billy said today.
Billy said, "Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don't you?"
And it was the noblest act of courage I have ever seen.
I make parents see their children for who they are
and what they can be.
You want to know what I make?

I make kids wonder,
I make them question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them write, write, write.
And then I make them read.
I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful,
definitely beautiful
over and over and over again until they will never misspell
either one of those words again.
I make them show all their work in math.
And hide it on their final drafts in English.
I make them understand that if you got this (brains)
then you follow this (heart),
and if someone ever tries to judge you
by what you make, you give them this (the finger).

Let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true:
I make a difference! What about you?


  1. I love the speech and the youtube video! I think it was a very powerful reminder of why most teachers go into the profession. I don’t think I know any teachers that have said they are teachers for the money. For most of us, the reason we want to teach is because we have a love for kids or we have a desire to make a difference in a child’s life. I remember last year in PSI when we were discussing why we decided to apply to the Ed faculty, almost everyone said that they wanted to make a difference in a child’s life. It’s not about the money for most.

    Although teacher’s don’t make a bad salary, there are definitely many other professions that make a lot more. I left a profession that I probably could have made more money in but I was not happy doing what I was doing. I wanted to make a difference and I felt that I could not do that where I was. What better place to make a difference than in the lives of children?

    Tuesday’s class really made me think about how much my education has cost as well. I have never actually sat down to figure out how much my university degrees have cost me and I think I’d rather not know. You can always think of things in terms of monetary cost but I think the benefit of education outweighs the costs. I’ve always thought that education is never a waste and I thank my grandfather for instilling that in me. He was not given or did not take the opportunity to go to university but wanted all his grandchildren to have that opportunity. I am very thankful that he valued education.

  2. Yes, Robert did mention that this could be a depressing class. This is the only class that I have ever taken that has a disclaimer in the syllabus warning that the subject matter may be depressing.

    I am glad that you raised the issue of “in it for the money…” Almost serendipitously, the weekend before this class, a friend of mine and I had a conversation about why we seek education and why we feel the need to pass it on to others, or more correctly why we want to inspire others to learn. My friend is a PhD candidate and TAs one of his professor’s labs. So my friend has invested a lot of time and money into his education, supplemented by grants of course. I started our heated conversation by asking him, why do you do it? We could be making money hand over fist in the patch or elsewhere. Why do we seek to better ourselves and others? He answered, “I don’t know.” The answer is not encouraging. It is encouraging however that he is perusing his PhD. His actions speak louder than his words. Deep down somewhere, he has a reason, even if he is not consciously aware of it. That deep down answer is more than enough.

    For me, when Robert laid out our educational expenses on the board, I felt that the numbers did not add up. The desire to teach cannot be quantified. As a ski instructor, I never made loads of money. So why did I do it. Firstly, it put me on skis. I am never happier than when I am skiing. Second, I wasn’t trapped in a corner office with a view. Third, ski instructing allowed me to share my passion for skiing with others. Being able to share that passion cannot be calculated in dollars and cents. I would laugh to myself on pay day sometimes, thinking ha! they’re paying me to ski! Teaching in the classroom is much the same for me. Taylor Mali is truly a hero figure of mine. He sums up my investment in wanting to become a teacher.

    I don’t want to be rich. I want to enrich.


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