Friday, November 20, 2015

Why today’s college students don’t want to be teachers - The Washington Post

Why today’s college students don’t want to be teachers - The Washington Post:

Why today’s college students don’t want to be teachers

Teacher shortages around the country have been big news in the education world this year, as has Teach For America’s recruitment issues and stories about fewer applicants to some college of education. What’s going on? In this post, Stephen Mulcher, who directs the Bard College Master of Arts Teaching Program in Los Angeles, looks at the declining interest among college students in going into the teaching profession and suggests how to turn that around. He assesses the impact that the modern school reform movement — which has put teachers in the crosshairs — is having on this dynamic and makes suggestions about how to turn it around.
Mulcher’s research interests include history education, history of American education, the development of historical thinking processes in adolescents, historiography and disciplined inquiry in secondary classrooms, urban education, the history of teacher preparation, progressivism, and Americanization.

By Stephen Mucher
Campus activism is back in the news.
From Missouri to Yale to Claremont McKenna, protests have drawn attention, not only to historic inequities, but also to the dramatically different ways students experience race and ethnicity in the classroom and on the quad.
As someone who visited over two dozen campuses last year, I am not surprised by these developments. The protests, as well as their critics, say a lot about the state of American university. But this unrest may say even more about K-12 schooling.
My purpose for visiting colleges was simple: To identify and recruit the best graduating seniors to teach in public schools. In the past, my appeal to youthful idealism and meaningful work would have generated some significant career enthusiasm. But over the past several years my recruitment efforts, by most any measure, has fallen flat.
Critics like to argue that today’s generation is too selfish, impatient, apathetic, or distracted for the kind of committed public service required of teaching professionals. I am unconvinced.  From M.I.T. to U.S.C., Appalachian State to Cal State, Michigan to Berkeley, Amherst to Occidental, I still meet brilliant, dedicated, inspired young people who are ready and willing to serve. Many are politically engaged. Many are active in projects that range from mentoring youth in under-resourced neighborhoods to creating ambitious non-profits that address real world social need. Many will willingly accept unpaid internships or join national service organizations upon graduation.  And until recently, many flocked to Teach For America. What I routinely see is a generation that needs to make a difference.
Calling today’s undergraduates privileged or spoiled is similarly reductionistic.  Certainly, economic diversity remains a persistent problem in American higher education. But one can find numerous examples of students who, despite growing up in poverty and navigating tragically under-resourced schools, persevere to become the first in their family to attend college. These remarkable individuals are among the most likely to pursue careers in social work, community organizing, or public health with plans to return home and Why today’s college students don’t want to be teachers - The Washington Post: