NGS News

Why is there a shortage of teachers … and how can we help?

We live in a world where criticism comes more easily to many than praise, and a world where media reports frame the way we think. Many of us who have been in the education space for a long time would know that we rarely hear students today saying “I want to be a teacher.” In fact, I hear almost the opposite – “who would want to be a teacher?” This isn’t because a child’s experience of school and views about teachers are negative. Rather, a feeling that teaching is not something that is a worthy career or satisfying role. Many simply see it as hard work.

Teaching is hard. Being an educational leader is hard. But many things worth doing are hard. In return for the hard work, teaching is a job that is satisfying and often puts a smile on one’s face. It is also a profession where friendships are formed, both professional and personal, with incredible colleagues – there’s nothing like spending time on camp, or an early morning playground supervision in winter, to develop these relationships. 

I often hear students thanking staff for a lesson or for helping them in a variety of ways. I wonder why then, this doesn’t translate into career choice or positive media stories. The research in outlined online here, examined 65,000 media articles and systematically analysed the stories about teachers. It concludes that we must do more to ensure that we do not blame teachers for failures in education, as this is having a negative impact on teacher recruitment. It certainly has an impact on morale.

How do we get positive stories into our communities and into the media? I think one way is to talk about the impact of teachers with family and friends and to challenge the negative stories when we hear them. Teachers give their working lives to improve the lives of others – and they deserve far more.