A personal and only marginally relevant response to the merit pay discussion

“[Teachers] get up early and do this very difficult job, pay for their own school supplies and work on lesson plans – all for very little money and little recognition,” he said.”The idea that you would use money to motivate them doesn’t seem to make sense.” -Daniel Pink, quoted in The Columbus Dispatch, emphasis mine

Money has never been much of a motivator for me in general, but that’s because money has never been an issue for me or my family.  (There, I said it, and hopefully I can continue with this post without feeling like a total hypocrite.)  I know I am in a far better situation than many people of my age, education, and occupation.  I know that walking away from a perfectly secure job in search of something more fulfilling is a privilege that millions of people don’t have (which is why I still feel kind of guilty about it).  I know that saying I didn’t become a teacher for the money may ring hollow because of my circumstances, but I’m going to go ahead and claim it anyway.

I became a teacher so I could keep learning for my whole life–about my subject, my students, and myself.  I never wanted to be one of those teachers who goes by the book and cruises through her 35 years without changing a thing.  We live in a big world and even if I can’t learn everything, I intend to try!

I became a teacher so I could share in my students’ successes and walk with them through setbacks.  I don’t think we ever outgrow the need for someone to be on our side; I know I haven’t.

I became a teacher to educate, which comes from educe, meaning to bring out or develop that which is latent.  Seeing people grow is probably my favorite part of existence.

I don’t know of a fair system for compensating teachers, because so much of the work they do is intangible.  To pay based solely on test scores or even on evaluations of teaching is simplistic and perhaps a bit demeaning, as though all teachers do is deliver a product.  I don’t want to think of a child, or any person at all, as a mere product, but then how do you quantify any of the helping professions?  I don’t know, and I don’t pretend to know, but all I can say is that it would be nice not to be treated like a machine in a factory.

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2 thoughts on “A personal and only marginally relevant response to the merit pay discussion

  1. Anna says:

    This is Anna. I’M READING YOUR BLOG NOW, finally found it =) just forewarning you haha.

  2. theolinwolffgard says:

    You were and will be a fabulous teacher. I was proud to share a room with you. As for the rest… You could probably guess my opinion. Long days with a polychronic/ rational anarchist… You poor soul. Lol

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