Are School Teachers a Dime a Dozen?

Today I read this comment about teachers – School teachers are a dime a dozen  – and I realized that if one person expresses this idea out loud in print then probably tens of thousands more quietly express it in private. Given that this is presumably the case, it’s no wonder our society relegates teaching to an inferior status. Why treat teachers like professionals if in fact they are a dime a dozen?

What astounds me about this comment is what it reveals about how people think about people. In other words, if anybody can be a teacher of children, then the human mind must be something very easy indeed to understand. Also, if the people who spend many hours a day year after year with one’s children are a dime a dozen, then one’s children must in fact not be very complicated at all.

Yet we know for a fact from the teachings of science as well as from everyday observation that the human mind is in fact terribly difficult to understand and the raising of children is extremely hard work. If it was anything different we would have a much less troubled world. After centuries of people trying to figure out what goes on in the brain we are only just beginning to put the pieces together to get a picture of how this part of people works.

The comment about school teachers unwittingly displays an astonishing lack of awareness  of the complexity of what it means to be human. How can such a lack of awareness exist?

I can only conclude that somewhere along the line a lot of school teachers messed up. If they had been doing their job well surely the commentator would know too much to be able to make the kind of statement he has made. Which brings us full circle, back to the question of whether school teachers are in fact a dime a dozen.

I would argue that the comment itself  proves school teachers are  not a dime a dozen. Clearly the writer – and the tens of thousands of  like-minded others I am presuming exist – was educated by some of the dime a dozen teachers our system currently allows into the teaching profession. This writer cannot be faulted for having been poorly educated. These students must have been moved from grade level to grade level without having really been taught much of importance. We need to make sure we no longer allow these dime-a-dozeners to get a teaching license. Instead let’s make sure teachers require students to at least try and understand our marvelously complicated minds.



Kathreen Harrison

About Kathreen Harrison

Kathreen Harrison is a public school teacher in Maine. She has a master’s degree from Bank Street College of Education and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College. She has worked in a variety of schools in New York and Maine in a number of capacities – French teacher, gifted and talented teacher, elementary school teacher, and curriculum coordinator for island schools. She has lived in Maine for 20 years and has a particular interest in school reform.