Teachers Are Underpaid (And That’s Bad for Us and Future Generations)

It’s time to wake up and address the real issue in education

Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD

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Photo courtesy of author

The door is open. An energizing buzz fills the corridor. I can feel the adrenaline rush and excitement.

Well prepared, I am entering the classroom.

“Good morning and welcome,” I say with a loud voice, while glancing through the room. Suddenly, it’s quiet. More than two hundred pairs of eyes are staring at me. It’s obvious that the students don’t know what to expect. It’s the first class of the semester.

The pressure is on.

As a teacher, I cannot permit myself to have an off day. Today is the day I must pitch the course to them. Clearly, I hope to see all the students (or more) again during the second lecture next week. My performance must be convincing, attractive, and serious. It’s a balancing act. I don’t want to come across as a clown. The class must be inspiring and interactive, teach the students about the subject, and focus on skills training and competencies at the same time as well.

There is never a dull moment as a teacher. You never stop learning either. I always have to innovate and experiment. In the fast-changing world, students’ expectations and behaviors are continually changing. What and how we teach is never the same.

Let me give an example. When I started more than twenty-five years ago, books, the blackboard, and chalk dominated the profession. But now, there are many different ways to present content and introduce students to new topics, knowledge, and skills. Videos, games, hackathons. Not once have I given the same lecture. It’s fascinating to work as a teacher, develop your own unique style, and work with the next generations.

But there is one problem — and that problem starts to hurt all of us.

Teachers are underpaid and underappreciated.

This isn’t just another complaint…

Teachers earn less (or better: a lot less) than other comparably educated professionals. The salary and other perks cannot be compared to similar and often less demanding jobs — jobs in which off days are possible and routines dominate.

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Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD

Prof (law) exploring the collision of life, work, and technology, with a current project in the works - a sci-fi novel.