I'm not. Noble that is. I am a teacher because it's what I do best. I don't tune pianos or fix broken teeth or help people get loans for a new house, because those are not the things I do best.
Reading EdWonk's post about an ad for NYC teacher recruitment got me thinking. Whenever I tell folk I'm a junior high school teacher, they tend to look at me with a bit of awe. Sometimes they pat me on the back, and tell me how much we need good teachers. Sometimes they tell me how they could "never do it" and don't know how I can. Some make remarks about how difficult it must be and how I must have so much patience. I have one friend who keeps telling me I should teach at the local community college, because all my knowledge is being wasted on the thirteen-year-olds.
Running through all of this is the thread that what I do is somehow in-between real work and volunteerism. This idea that I'm sacrificing somehow.
I hate that.
I really hate that. I know, most people think they're giving me a compliment, but what's going on underneath is that idea that teachers are a special breed. One that gets its satisfaction not from money or wealth, but from doing good deeds in the world. By thinking of teaching as a "calling" rather than a profession, we are more put into the ranks of nuns and missionaries, rather than highly trained professionals. Isn't there a vow of poverty that most people "called" to the church take? I didn't take any such vow.
I love my job. I'm good at it. But my job is not to impart knowledge. My job is to help my students think. To help them learn. To engage them in higher order thinking skills.
This part will sound corny, so bear with me. My job is one I believe in (even with the stupid NCLB, politicians who have a voucher agenda, and parents who treat me like a servant). I like my job. I don't question the ethics of what I'm doing. I'm never bored. I worked hard to get where I am. I'm still paying off students loans that were more than my first year's paycheck (and I went to a state university). I laugh almost every day. I get to be the center of attention much of the time.
All good things. Everyone should have a job they like as much as I do.
But. Just because I like my job, and it engages me, does that mean I have to give up the financial rewards other professionals earn in other careers?
Where does it say that one doesn't have to make as much money if one has a job one believes in?