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Know your worth

by Rebecca Thomas

‘If you are good at something, never do it for free.’

- Joker

Having been a long term advocate for the philosophy of ‘paying it forward’ and knowing how hard educators work to support their tamariki I pondered on this comment.

The Educational Dollar

There is no doubt when you Google the worth of education to corporate companies, assessment designers and resource makers there is money to be made in the name of learning. UNESCO says “About $4.7 trillion is spent on education worldwide annually.’’

Like it or not, education is indeed a trillion dollar business. So, how come our educators aren’t driving Teslas?

Often the corporate world of education and the educators world of education clashes.

This clash is driven by monetary gain and competitiveness in contrast to helping others and society. The materialistic orientation of business and the humanistic orientation of academics become conflicted. I anticipate anybody in the corporate world would not be inclined to do something for free, especially if they were good at it.

The view I have in the trenches however is one that contradicts the initial statement. I have yet to meet a teacher, caretaker, support worker, who can afford an extravagant lifestyle due to the hours they work. There is no overtime, no clocking out machine, there is no off switch at lunchtimes and after school meetings. Daily, I see good people all around me do plenty of things for free.

Usually a workforce can be motivated by prospects of promotion, higher salaries and better working conditions. Without these obvious incentives for teachers, why do they work so hard?

At a time when they are all feeling the effects of inflation, they are tired and under-resourced, they keep going, they keep giving - teaching is rather an unusual job.

The power of human emotion

Someone once told me, 'you can never spend a thank you', but that gratitude implies humility — recognition that we could not be who we are, or where we are in life without the contributions of others; gratitude is a deep, complex phenomenon that plays a critical role in human happiness. How many of you have kept a kind note or card from a parent or a student for several years? How did these messages make you feel?

(The Emotion Wheel created by Robert Plutchik 1980)

Plutchik believed that humans experience eight primary emotions, and each of these emotions has a polar opposite that is also included on the wheel:

  • Joy, and its opposing emotion, sadness.

  • Fear, and its opposing emotion, anger.

  • Anticipation, and its opposing emotion, surprise.

  • Disgust, and its opposing emotion, trust.

It is normal to find yourself in between two emotions. You feel joy, but you also feel anticipation. Maybe you’re proud of your class' achievements, or are particularly excited about the year to come. Plutchik covered these emotions, too. In between each emotion is an emotion that combines two adjoining emotions:

  • Anticipation and joy: optimism

  • Anger and anticipation: aggressiveness

  • Joy and trust: love

  • Trust and fear: submission

  • Fear and surprise: awe

  • Surprise and sadness: disapproval

  • Sadness and disgust: remorse

  • Disgust and anger: contempt

Educators' daily routines and interactions are filled with this kaleidoscope of emotions. Maybe that's why they teach? There is a “magical” feeling of well-being when you work within a school, coming to work every day is often something to look forward to. Its a place where you can be happy, accepted, respected and valued.

Just by feeling valued, knowing you have made a difference seems to counteract any financial benefits, maybe that's why good teachers work so hard for free.

As you struggle to make it to the end of term and exhaust yourself supporting those in your care, know that your dedication is being paid forward, paid forward to impressionable young people who you are helping to support.

There may be many people who don't see your value teachers, just don't let that someone be you - know your worth.

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