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Teaching: The Most Important Profession

Abbey Smithee By Abbey Smithee Published on September 29, 2016

It’s difficult, if not almost impossible, to imagine a world without teachers. How would students get their education? How would any one of us learn anything? A world without teachers would be bleak because educators play a fundamental role in shaping students from a very young age, and consequently society’s future.

There may not be a definitive way to measure the impact teachers make in society because it creates a ripple effect. Students go on to contribute to society in unforeseeable ways, catalyzing even more change. When you consider that students spend 8, 9 or even 10 hours a day in school, sometimes more time than at home, it’s no wonder teachers play such a significant role in our society.

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A teacher’s job isn’t just to educate students on specific subjects such as math, science or literature. There are so many additional components that add up to make a good teacher, from empathy for the students, to the ability to communicate and be flexible with the subject matter in order to match the students' needs. Many films starring inspirational teachers begin with a teacher who is unable to connect with his or her class and then ultimately using empathy and creativity get through to and inspire his or her students.

A 2012 study called “The Long-Term Impacts of Teachers” by Raj Chetty, John N. Friedman and Jonah E. Rockoff of Harvard and Columbia universities showed the economic and social benefits teachers make on their students. A committed teacher can help a student determine which path of study to pursue, or inspire him or her to continue studying in the first place.

Established in 1994, World Teachers’ Day is meant to acknowledge and celebrate their efforts while also leaving room to discuss how to best to support teachers in the future. On the official website, they acknowledge that, “Strangely, one of the most central, vital professionals to society does not receive the respect it deserves in some parts of the world.” If it’s easy to overlook the importance teachers play, it’s because their role is so fundamental and integral to our society.

As the world becomes more global and dependent on technology, the educational needs of the next generation are changing. Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education at U.S. Department of Education, wrote recently, “With the transition to more rigorous achievement standards and better student assessments, a focus on data to drive instruction, and the use of technology to personalize learning, teachers are carrying an incredible amount of responsibility.” He concludes that these changes are positive and exciting, opening up doors to a new generation of teach-ers who are able to be creative with their curriculum and teaching methods. 

 Currently, creating more teachers is essential for UNESCO’s current educational goals. According to a recent paper by the UIS (UNESCO Institute for Statistics), teachers will be in high demand in the coming decades. 

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They estimate that by 2030, there will be a need for 25.8 million new teaching positions in order for every child to have primary education, 3.2 million of which are new jobs and 22.6 million from teachers projected to leave the profession. Given these upcoming shifts in education, teachers serve a more crucial role than ever. 

    Abbey Smithee works as an English teacher and in her spare time, volunteers with children with learning disabilities as a tutor and reading assistant.