4 Things Every Elementary Education Major is Tired of Hearing

With the holiday season right around the corner, it’s never too early to start dreading that distant family small talk. All is well as they’re prodding you about why you still haven’t brought a significant other to the function, but suddenly you’re backed into a corner and forced to talk about how school’s been going. “What’s that you’re studying again?” they'll ask. And when you proudly reply that you’re in the amazing field of education, you’re given a handful of outdated sayings and unwarranted responses. As a future teacher, you have a road of amazing experiences ahead of you but, along the way, you’re going to run into a ton of people who just don’t get why teachers want to change the world.

1. "You aren't going to make a lot of money"

We get that no one should spend thousands of dollars on college to go into a career that doesn’t pay much. But for us, it isn’t about the money. We chose to do this because of the reward of seeing growth in others. There’s more to life than money. Even if one day we decide that the paycheck is just not cutting it, we can always go administrative, but even the average pay rate for principals is still less than the rates for financial advisors or construction managers. Either way this isn’t the end all be all of our lives, so stop making it seem that way.

2. "You must have a lot of patience for kids" or "I could never"

You're right, I do. That’s how I can stand this conversation right now. A lot of people forget that they were once kids with a million questions. And the best response to those who “could never” is that they won’t ever have to. That's why I'm here. You're welcome.

3. "At least you'll get your summers off!"

We do? This is news to me! Now, teachers do get a vacation or two, but any free time they have is spent preparing lesson plans, setting up their classrooms, and anticipating their students' needs. Did I mention that this isn’t a paid vacation? Teachers are basically unemployed for three months of the year, trying to juggle a second or third job just to keep food on the table. But yay, summer vacation!

4. "That sounds easy. You get to color all day!"

This is one of my favorites. I have yet to spend a day in a classroom where the sole task of the day is to color. Yeah, we get a little crafty here and there, but calling it easy is a stretch. Mariane M., an Elementary Education major at Carthage College, says that “some people might not think it takes much to be a teacher, but it takes a lot of passion and effort to do anything in education.” Lauren U., also pursuing Elementary Education, has a shared experience with this, telling HCC that “as I was working on my homework, a group of people sitting next to me were studying for their finance midterm. One student in particular was getting frustrated with a concept that he couldn't remember. Someone else studying with him told him not to worry, that he will remember it, and that at least he'll have a reputable degree by the end of all of this, unlike graduates in education. His friend then proceeded to tell him that a degree in education is the easiest degree to get.”

As education majors, we spend hours a day sitting through lectures and presentations, putting ourselves through the lessons that we will one day teach our students. No matter what anyone says, being a teacher is a tough job and if you really think about it, no one successful is where they are today without a teacher. Jacquelyn S., an Elementary Education major at Carthage, says “although I hear all of these things about teaching, I'm still choosing to follow my heart and my passion and become a teacher. I know I'll work long hours, sitting in a classroom grading and assessing students but that is my future, and teaching is what I'm passionate about. I will never let what anyone has to say about my future career stop me from doing what I have always dreamed about doing."