Kiwis think the teaching profession is becoming tougher and the majority of us say we wouldn’t have the patience to do the job, according to new research.
A recent study, which investigated how New Zealanders perceive the role of teachers in our society, found most of us had concerns with how teachers were coping with the demands on them.
Eight out of 10 (78 per cent) of Kiwis surveyed said they believed the job of a teacher is harder than it was a decade ago and that the career requirements, whether in early education, primary or high school, have increased with time.
However, the huge importance of the vocation has not changed at all, according to the Warehouse Stationery survey, which was conducted to mark the start of the New Zealand’s Most Inspiring Teacher initiative.
While many of us admire and respect the work that teachers do, it’s not a job that everyone thinks they would be well-equipped for given the constant need to hold children’s attention, motivate them, and find ways to make schoolwork relevant.
Many Kiwis (47 per cent) acknowledge they wouldn’t have the patience to take on a teaching job themselves if the tables were turned, and are disappointed with the level of support teachers receive from the community.
The study also highlighted the significant influence teachers have on our lives as three-quarters (75 per cent) of all Kiwis say outside of our family it is teachers who have the greatest impact.
Interestingly, along with educating children in all areas of the curriculum and guiding their social development, the new research shows teachers are also key in shaping the future of many students’ lives, with around four in 10 people (37 per cent) saying a teacher inspired their career path.
The level of that influence may be growing, with nearly half of all young people (47 per cent) aged between 18-24 saying they have been influenced by a teacher in their chosen direction after leaving school.
Teachers not only have to juggle pastoral care with educating students and keeping up-to-date with their field, but are increasingly having to adapt to new systems and processes as ways of working and learning shift rapidly.
Traditional subjects such as English, maths and social studies are losing some standing, with nearly half of those surveyed (44 per cent) saying they believe technology will be the most important subject for the next generation of New Zealanders.
A majority of 75 per cent say we should be doing more for the people who take on the challenging role of caring for and educating Kiwi kids throughout their school years.
Dr Aaron Wilson, a lecturer in the Faculty of Education at the University of Auckland says it wonderful to see how many Kiwis recognise what a complex and challenging role teaching is.
“It’s a profession and a craft, an art and a science. It’s a specialised job that not just anybody can do well.
“Our most effective teachers are intelligent, educated, creative and caring people with loads of patience and excellent communication and organisational skills. They have deep knowledge about what they teach and how they teach it, and about people, learning, assessment and more,” Dr Wilson says.
He says it is heartening to see that most in the community see the need to recognise and support the work of teachers.
“In the past decade or so teachers have had to respond to major changes which include new technology, a new national curriculum, national standards, and NCEA. All these things make teaching very challenging. But there are few careers that are as rewarding. It makes a huge difference to teachers, and to children’s learning, when teachers and parents appreciate each other and work together to make things better.”
The New Zealand’s Most Inspiring Teacher 2015 initiative aims to show teachers how much their students and the wider community value them, and recognise their hard work publicly.
The CEO of Warehouse Stationery Pejman Okhovat says he hopes the campaign will give something back to the more than 50,000 teachers in New Zealand.
“As supporters of the important work teachers do, we are excited to give Kiwis the opportunity once again to thank them by voting and telling them how much they are appreciated.”