Why do so many teachers leave the profession soon after they are qualified? I would argue that there are two main reasons. Firstly, because bureaucratic and political interference means that they cannot do their job properly thus taking away any satisfaction at a job well done.
Added to that is the criticism and aggression of parents that is often directed at teachers. The second reason that many teachers leave the profession is that they realise that they aren’t good teachers and are unsuited to teaching. Here I discuss these problems and some options for dealing with them.
I would argue that bureaucratic and political interference is discouraging to teachers. Teachers are being told what to teach and how to teach it by people who have no qualifications nor experience with being a teacher. They do not understand the problems of teaching nor of being a teacher, yet they dictate often unworkable and unrealistic conditions under which teachers have to work.
Irate and inconsiderate parents are another problem. Again we have unqualified people criticising teachers. They often look upon schools as somewhere to send their children to keep the out of the way. I know of one parent who told her child’s teacher that she, the teacher, was only there to look after her child while she, the mother, was at work. These parents have no respect for teachers nor education and see schools as little more than child minding centres.
It is easy to understand why these teachers leave the profession. Why should they put up with unqualified interference and aggressive parents when they go elsewhere and find less stressful jobs?
The solution, although not a perfect one, is to keep the politicians and bureaucrats out of education unless they are qualified to interfere. The organisation of teaching and education should be left to those qualified and experienced enough to know what they are talking about. That is, the teachers.
The second reason why so many teachers leave the profession is not so easy to explain and justify. It is unfortunate that these people do not realise that they aren’t good teachers until after they have been, and have incurred the cost of being, trained. It would be much better if they could be found out earlier, preferably before they start their training as teachers, and directed into other fields of employment. This would save cluttering up the universities with the wrong people and would provide more places for people who do have the talent for teaching and will become good teachers.
The best solution would be if people with this talent for becoming a good teacher could be identified early and encouraged to become teachers, instead of the current system where anyone obtaining enough credits can enter teacher training, regardless of their potential for being a good teacher.
I can understand these people leaving the profession. To realise that one is not good at a job because of lack of talent is frustrating and depressing. If these people were identified earlier in their training, or better, before it even started, they could go into some other profession for which they do have the talent, thus having a better, more productive, and happier, life than being a failed teacher.
I am not saying that these are the only reasons that some teachers leave the profession, there may be personal or temperamental problems, but I believe that they are ones that can be dealt with to a greater or lesser extent. I have discussed some of the ways in which these problems can be dealt with above, but the ultimate aim must be to remove the dissatisfaction caused by the situation in which teachers find themselves.
Some teachers are able to cope with the difficulties and the interference and also have the talent required. These stay in the profession, become the mainstay of the profession and good teachers. The others leave, for one reason or another, and are a loss and cost that the profession cannot afford.