It’s not just in the United States where veteran teachers are feeling a bit unwanted in the push for young recruits from programs such as Teach For America.
The Guardian newspaper in England published a post in its Secret Teacher blog, written by teachers who write anonymously, with this headline: “There’s an insidious prejudice against older teachers.’ The piece refers to a program in England called “Teach First,” which, it turns out, is a founding partner with Wendy Kopp’s Teach For America in a growing network of dozens of organizations in countries around the world that try to change the teacher corps. It’s called Teach For All, which I wrote about in this post:
Teach for All is a network of like-minded school reform organizations in countries around the world that, as the website says, “all recruit outstanding university graduates and young leaders of a variety of disciplines and career interests to commit two years to teach in high-need areas, providing a critical source of additional teachers who ensure their students have the educational opportunities they deserve, despite socioeconomic factors.”
Teach First, whose patron is Prince Charles, is having the same effect on many veteran teachers in England as Teach For America is having in the United States, at least according to this Secret Teacher blog post. Here’s part of it:
Until not so long ago I was a happy classroom teacher, with happy pupils in a happy school. A teacher who had been officially and consistently recognised as teaching successfully over a long period of time, by many different professionals – leaders and colleagues, visiting headteachers and Ofsted inspectors. Now, despite years of successful practice, I am feeling vulnerable and hunted….
…. There have been big changes in my school and my instincts tell me that I am being watched. I don’t think I’m being paranoid, I believe there is an unspoken and insidious prejudice against older classroom teachers in many, but not all, schools. In our age of blame, scapegoats need to be found and, being at the bottom of the pecking order, classroom teachers are an easy target – particularly the older ones. We often seem to be unfairly perceived as unmalleable or even as troublemakers, instead of as a rich asset.
The hype about Teach First doesn’t help this feeling of unease; [Secretary of State for Education Michael] Gove himself talks about the best generation of young teachers ever entering the profession. So it is no surprise to me to hear reports of a widespread exodus of older teachers leaving the profession…. Politicians and policy advisers need to be careful about using divisive language. The implication at times is that Teach First graduates will be saving our children from existing useless teachers….
Read the whole post here.