Teaching: A dying profession?


Molly Wilson

During the January term at Denison, physics grad student Michael Bait sat in on high school classes at Granville and tutored students. Now, Bait is the physics teacher at Granville High School and looks upon these few weeks as the experiences that solidified his plans to teach in high school. Focused on college and his studies, Bait had forgotten how much life and energy exists in the high school environment, he knew this was the atmosphere for him.

Moments like this are few and far between, now, more than ever. Recent studies suggest that the quality of teachers is down and the number students who pursue education have been decreasing.

According to MarketWatch, 4.6 % of college freshman plan to major in education. Majority of these students are doing down other paths and pursuing degrees in fine arts and computer science degrees.

English teacher Keith Mullins has been teaching for 21 years. He got his undergrad at Miami University. His original degree was a bachelor of philosophy of interdisciplinary studies. Four years later he got his masters in education from Ohio State University inorder to begin teaching. 

Through the years of teaching Mulins has witnessed this rapid decline first hand, “In the last ten years of so I’ve had three student teachers and only one of them has continued into teaching,” he said.

At Capital University math teacher Janie Waidelich earned her degree in a field called integrated math, which compares to a math major and education minor. She has noticed the downward trend of students who are choosing to go into education, “kids realize they can make a lot more money and have a lot less stress,” she said, when they chose to go down a non-education path.

Mullins claims that the teacher salaries here at Granville are the highest in Licking County. However, compared to other schools of the same caliber such as Olentangy and schools in Franklin County, Granville pays their teachers around 15% less, according to Superintendent Jeff Brown.

These are factors that have driven teachers to leave Granville and go teach in other areas where they can make more money. Some have even left the profession and have decided to use their skills in another career where they can make more money, according to Mullins.

In 1975, more than one fifth of college students majored in education, in 2015 only one in every ten Americans devoted their college studies solely to education. In a BluePrints Twitter poll, when asked, “would you consider going into teching,” 68% of the people who voted would not conisder teaching as a profession.

This exemplifies the studies reported by MarketWatch, that students are not interested by teaching. However, the 29% of students who selected “yes” are simmilar to Waidelich, who as a high school student knew that teaching was a good path for her because she enjoyed helping students figure out tough math problems to solve.

When she approached her mom about her prospective college plans, her mom told her not to be a teacher. A teacher herself, her mother explained that most of the week, outside of the school day, was spent grading papers and planning future lessons.

Most people prefer set hours and a routine. As a teacher the daily workload and day to day schedule fluctuate, an unappealing truth for most students. Sometimes teachers work 80 hour weeks, according to Mullins. He claims that when people say that teachers don’t have to work as much because they get summers off are naive to the work teachers put in outside of the classroom. “I’ve already worked all those summer hours,” Mullins said.

However, young adults who prefer an energetic and eventful work environment might find themselves enjoying teaching.

Mullins worked for publishing companies before he became a teacher and often times found himself frustrated with the corporate atmosphere, ” I wanted to do something I actually enjoyed,” Mullins said. 

“It (teaching) is a lot more interesting, challenging and changing then what I thought it would be, if someone is worried about it being mind numbingly boring I would say you don’t have to worry about that,” Bait said. 

Despite the negative connotation surrounding teaching, the overbearing theme among all teachers is their dedication and love for their jobs. Education shapes kids into young adults ready to face the next step in their lives.

Bait affirms his love for teaching by saying “I come back because I enjoy it.” He also said that the intangible benefits of teaching are the most rewarding, “When I was at Hilliard there were kids who if I were not teaching there wouldn’t have gone to college.”

Mullins backs up these thoughts with career affirming a moment of his own. He recently recieved a letter from a former student thanking him for everything that he did for the student and their sibilings. “What you notice is that you don’t really see the super cool things until after it,” Mullins said. 

Mullins offers up advice for those interested in teaching, clarifying that the dedication and patience one must have to be a successful and good quality teacher saying, “You have to want this to be able to tolerate a lot of the difficulty and the expectations from the community, the parents and everything that goes into it to be able to do what you want to in the classroom. So if you can’t manage that then this isn’t for you.”

Bait reflects upon his career.

“Nobody knows the future, but I can look back on the past and i can say that it has been a wonderful career for me. I’ve had opportunities to do the kinds of things that I want and had great experiences with students.”