I love this time of year, immersing myself in the new semester, seeing the students, meeting new ones, and hearing from those who have gone on to greatness as well as those who are struggling in this down economy. Bottom line, I love being a teacher… Professor as the case may be. The list of reasons why is long and someday I may compile my top ten or hundred as the case may be.
There is one thing about being in the education field I dislike – a simple saying, “those who can, do and those who can’t, teach.” Even I’ve been guilty of uttering these words adding my own fresh, snarky commentary, “those who can’t teach teach gym and those who can’t teach gym become… fill in your job title here.” Like many sayings, nothing could be further from the truth.
The reality is I’ve known and know some amazing teachers/professors. Their titles are varied; Tenured, Adjunct, Visiting, Clinical, Assistant, etc. but regardless of title they teach because they love teaching – the same reason I teach. We have a passion for the field of study and hope to leave an indelible mark on our respective industry by shaping and teaching its future, not because of any limitations in ability.
The topic of what I “make” came up in class the other day. For many, salary is an immediate roadblock to teaching. Most professors (especially the non-tenure) earn very little, receive limited benefits and all with no long term commitment from the Universities they work for. But, again, that’s not why we teach – at least that’s not why I teach. There are moments I wish I earned more – and then I talk with a student or meet with a group and am reminded that the compensation I receive, what I make, can’t always be measured in dollars.
Taylor Mali said it best (warning, language):